3 Tips for Web Development and UX for a Japanese Audience
If you’re new to international expansion – or perhaps new to expanding into Asia – you’d be forgiven for thinking that one website is pretty much the same as the next, regardless of the language used.
For Japan, this doesn’t hold true and there are some very specific web development approaches plus UX considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when designing for a Japanese audience. Here, we’ve rounded up three key tips to help your project get off to a successful start.
Tip 1: Get familiar with Japanese design
Japanese websites are actually very different to western styles. Even established big name brands like Honda, Sony and Starbucks maintain two very distinct aesthetics. Knowing what Japanese consumers expect and are accustomed to seeing from websites will go a long way to successfully localising your web dev project.
An easy way to begin to understand those differences and be able to confidently apply some local knowledge to your own project is to spend some time immersing yourself in Japanese websites. Try comparing the .jp and .com versions of a favourite brand and the different visual design traits should be immediately apparent.
Japanese web development tends to be much more text heavy and a lot more written information is made available to the visitor. If you visit Honda.com for example, you’ll be presented with a wall of images. Head to Honda.jp and the focus is predominantly on text.
Japanese sites tend to also use a bright colour palette and be more information dense – this is what Japanese consumers expect and are familiar with so you’ll need to adjust your own web design accordingly to offer visitors an experience they feel comfortable with.
Tip 2: Adjust the UX to your target demographic
The demographic you’re targeting in Japan will have a huge bearing on the UX. Older demographics or example tend to have greater buying power but are much more likely to use a desktop device than access the web from a smartphone.
Younger consumers tend to use mobiles more and are more accustomed to using their smartphone to access daily news or communicate with peers on social media. Of course, mobile and desktop websites and UX differs greatly so you’ll need to be very aware of who you’re targeting and their preferred means of accessing information online when designing your Japanese web site.
Tip 3: Familiarise yourself with consumer expectations
The Japanese consumer is different to the typical American shopper in just the same way the American shopper is different to a British customer or French lead. You need to spend time studying those expectations in order to craft a site that a Japanese consumer is comfortable using and than funnels that consumer through your sales process.
Some experts in Japanese web design say that you shouldn’t have a small font for example as older consumers won’t read a piece of information if it’s presented in text smaller than 16pts. An abundance of information is preferred over a minimal aesthetic but even how that information is presented can be challenging for non-native speakers as text can be formatted both horizontally and vertically – something that is a difficult concept to understand for the uninitiated.