A recent project localising an American website for realise in China got us a bit curious. Does the cultural difference between Western and Chinese translate to how websites are designed? The websites covered in this study are:

  • News and Searches:
    Google.co.uk & Baidu.com
  • Online Directory:
    Yahoo UK & Yahoo China
  • Educational Publishers
    Pearson & Higher Education Press
  • Universities:
    Harvard University & Peking University
  • Online Book Store:
    Barnes and Noble & Bookuu
  • Business Studies –
    Stanford University & Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business
  • Business/Financial news
    Bloomberg & BizNewsCN

Appearance

The study shown, regardless of website origin, all 14 websites examined has consistently shown a conventional layout. Where the logo is situated on the top left, navigation along top of the page, followed immediately by key content and ends with simple sitemaps at the footer. 

Colours

China’s history and culture has long established it’s own set of colour symbolism that varies slightly from that of the west. Therefore when designing a website for China, one should make sure colour chosen fits into it’s culture correctly. One example of website variations for different target audience can be seen from the Peking University website as shown below.

The screen capture on the left (fig 1.1) for the Chinese version of the site shows a clean and simple design with emphasis on the colour blue, which in Chinese Culture represents Trust, Calmness and Relaxation. Where as the screen on the right (fig 1.2) showing the same website in English, focuses its design using dark red, this is to establish a sense of Leadership, Courage and Strength.

A common pattern seen in all website is the use of light coloured background with dark coloured text. (Screen capture of all websites studied can be viewed in Appendix A) The study also shown many of the Chinese websites have a tendency of using shades of blue, as stated above, this is used to help the companies and institutes establish a sense of trust.

 

Content structure and strategy

To analyse content structure of the 14 selected websites, each were examined in terms of the amount of text (file size), images and links per page as well as loading time. This is to achieve a quantifiable method of understanding how website content differs between the two sides.

The following table shows an overall summary of data collected. A detailed overview of data collected from this study can be seen in below

 

  Western Websites (Sum) Chinese Websites (Sum)
File Size 5568 kb 9841 kb
Links 2147 4190
Images 307 images 671 images
Loading time (From US) 12.28 seconds 91.4 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 61.66 seconds 83 seconds
Average Loading time 36.97 seconds 87.2 seconds

 

Using the information collected, we have established the following:

  • Western websites tend to have a higher text to image radio then Chinese websites, which are often text heavy
  • Western websites focuses each page with a smaller amount of content, while Chinese web pages has higher content concentration and many more external links per page
  • Chinese websites are in average 154% longer in page length than their Western equivalent sites (Screen captures of tested websites can be seen below)
  • Chinese websites tend to have a longer average loading time, tested using both servers from Hong Kong and US

 

Screen captures for all websites under research

 

 

Appendix B

 

  Google News Baidu News
File Size 113 kb 367 kb
Links 362 666
Images 52 images 43 images
Loading time (From US) 0.7 seconds 9.38 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 8.96 seconds 4.71 seconds
Average Loading time 4.83 seconds 7.045 seconds

 

  Yahoo UK Home page Yahoo China Home page
File Size 542 kb 1.9 MB
Links 170 1185
Images 60 images 103 images
Loading time (From US) 1.23 seconds 17.07 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 4.26 seconds 7.82 seconds
Average Loading time 2.75 seconds 12.45 seconds

 

  Pearson Higher Education Press
File Size 388 kb 685 kb
Links 156 250
Images 7 images 32 images
Loading time (From US) 1.68 seconds 9.47 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 2.95 seconds 8.98 seconds
Average Loading time 2.32 seconds 9.23 seconds

 

  Harvard University Peking University
File Size 1.7 MB 269.3 kb
Links 189 26
Images 43 images 32 images
Loading time (From US) 1.94 seconds 9.58 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 21.09 seconds 5.72 seconds
Average Loading time 11.7 seconds 9.4 seconds

 

  Stanford University Cheung Kong GSB
File Size 388 kb 286.4 kb
Links 111 111
Images 46 images 24 images
Loading time (From US) 1.97 seconds 6.12 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 3.1 seconds 12.7 seconds
Average Loading time 2.53 seconds 9.41 seconds

 

  Barnes and Noble Bookuu
File Size 1.7 MB 6 MB
Links 723 1729
Images 168 images 410 images
Loading time (From US) 2.93 seconds 29.65 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 16.17 seconds 36.97 seconds
Average Loading time 9.55 seconds 33.31 seconds

 

  Bloomberg BizNewsCN
File Size 737 kb 334.3 kb
Links 436 223
Images 53 images 27 images
Loading time (From US) 1.83 seconds 10.13 seconds
Loading time (From HK) 5.13 seconds 6.1 seconds
Average Loading time 3.48 seconds 8.12 seconds

 

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About Chi Wai LI

Happily accept I'm a #geek but hate to sit still all day. Digital Creative and Founder of Getfit.hk. #HongKong

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