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Ways to Design for a Global Audience
  • By Luke Covell

    Website Designer

Check out some of the following ways to design a website for a global audience:

Keep a Minimal Design

Due to the fact you are designing for a large, international audience, you have to be careful with some design factors as it may not be perceived in the same way in other countries. You need to make sure that the website does not:

  • Offend anyone
  • Is accommodating to other languages and cultures
  • Supports most browsers and devices
  • Performs well for anyone who is using the website no matter their location

Using a minimal design always allows you to present information in a clean and simple way, and will not have as many chances to cause offence to a person that is using the website.

Make a Correct Colour Choice

Choosing colours for a website with a global audience can be a lot harder than choosing colours for a local audience. Some of the obvious colour considerations such as accessibility will affect both local and global audiences. The main issues arise when trying to choose colours due to different colours can have different meanings depending on the country of the user. To avoid any issues some of the larger eCommerce websites such as Amazon use a neutral based colour scheme. Although the logo and the images are colourful, the natural colour scheme is done to stop any inappropriate colour being used as a major colour.

Consider Images

Images are another element that need to be taken into consideration when they are added to a website. Adding images to a website can be the main part of the styling, but the images that are added need to avoid being unintentionally offensive. Some companies have an easier time to achieve this than others depending on how the site has been designed. Some larger sites will change the images that are displayed to each of the regions that they provide the services for however, this can be a difficult task to do while allowing the website to load fast no matter where it is being accessed from.

Optimising image files can be another important step that needs to be taken to make sure the website that has been designed loads fast for everyone. This is an important step as people will be accessing through a large array of devices with different connection speeds.

Layout & Translation Importance

Responsive design means that you don't have to worry about issues arising from people using different types of devices. Although there can still be some layout considerations that can come from the site being accessed from other countries for example issues with text translation. When the text has been translated to another language it can cause the design to be different to the original version. This can be due to the text taking up a different amount of space than the original. Some of the main issues that can cause the difference in the length of the translations are:

  • The translation not being fully accurate
  • Varying alphabet letter sizes
  • Different amount of set spacing used in the language
  • Text Direction (for example right to left)

Close attention needs to be taken to make sure any slight differences caused by any of these don't cause major issues with the design of the site. Below shows a difference in the length of the content that is present in the English version versus the translated version.

 

The translated version of the site shows a few areas where the text becomes longer than in the original site. The biggest difference is the paragraph under the “choose from an array of fencing Styles” paragraph as this goes onto an extra line compared to the original. Due to this being longer it makes slightly more of the image to the side of it shown.

Simplify Form Inputs

Simplicity is key when you are designing fields for forms on a website. A simple form can make it easy to enter the content needed no matter what country the site is being accessed from and more importantly will not prioritise one user over another. Something as simple as a separate First Name and Last Name inputs can be confusing in some cultures that are used to entering the information the other way around. Another issue can arise when asking for an address. Different fields would need to be completed in order to get an address from someone in England versus someone living in America. Carefully designing contact forms can likely increase the amount of success a site will have internationally as people in certain areas won't want to use the site if they feel like the site has not been designed to cater to their geographical region. Below is an example of a contact form that is clear and simple, it also uses labels outside of the field which can be beneficial for accessibility reasons as well:

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