The characteristics of a good website design are not the same depending on countries. Making the right decisions will increase traffic and improve your company’s image. A great website in Europe will be seen as sad in Japan, colors don’t have the same meaning, numbers neither… If users are familiar with your design, they will trust the brand better and stay longer. So let’s see what the best websites look like in Japan and how to improve yours.
Case Study: Starbucks
As we can see, the style is more refined, whitespace filled. There is less text, almost none. A big font size is used for the main information (titles, drink names). The menu is on the upper left side and the ‘sign in’ button on the upper right (as usual in the West). Drinks are briefly described by their flavors, characteristics (creamy, cold, ‘vibrant’, smooth, lush, sweet, etc.) and / or category (wrap, cold brew, coconut milk, etc.). A button ‘Learn more’ avoids adding too much information and redirects the user to a list as refined as the one before.
Besides, one color dominates: green, which symbolizes spring in the West. Graphics are also very large, with a small touch of color different for each drink.
On the other side, Starbuck Japan is more compact, more crowded. Only one coffee is described, the last one released. The menu is on the right and left sides since Japanese is traditionally written in columns, from top to bottom. News about Starbuck is shown on the right side, with more text than on the English version, and many small graphics. A small description is written on the main graphic (on many other advertisements, it is handwritten). The font size of the drink name (written in English) is big, but small for everything else. Information is not the same in the two versions (you should not translate word for word!), the drinks are not described on the main page since their names (in kanji / hiragana / katakana and romaji) are enough.
Pink dominates on the right side because it symbolizes spring in Japan, with cherry blossom trees. A wide range of colors, however, is also displayed on Japanese websites: pink, blue, green, yellow… It is not repellent, on the contrary (even in big cities, flashy colors and neon advertisements take over). The logo is shown on the cup, it is a famous brand that Japanese customers like. Having a character or a mascot is a great idea, you will sell more in Japan. The main picture is also rather cute, with pink flowers and colorful stars/flowers as chips. Remember that cuteness rhyme with business in Japan.
In Japan, a large amount of text and small graphics are favored and many different colors are displayed. The websites may seem busy from a Westerner’s point of view. Cute characters or pictures are popular among Japanese users, as text on graphics (on TV too, text takes over the screen). Besides, even though some studies have shown that slides are not efficient, many Japanese websites keep using them. A study by Akamai.com and Gomez.com also revealed that users leave a website if it does not open after 6 seconds. The resolution of pictures is therefore less important. Visit other Japanese websites to become aware of what users expect when clicking on a link!
Reference: www.starbucks.com www.starbucks.co.jp www.infocubic.co.jp/en/blog/website-design/how-japanese-website-design-differs-from-the-west/