When brands and organizations seek growth by expanding into a global market, they may find that their digital products are not as popular as in the domestic market.

除了营销因素之外,一个常旅客的原因是他们的网站和应用程序最初在当地人口统计概况中开发和测试。对于国内集团来说,这一点是什么may not make any sense to people from a different cultural background。This is why designers must modify the products for a global audience and test with that target audience to validate the modifications.

Two Types of Adaptation

For digital products with crosscultural audiences speaking different languages, there are two adaptation approaches:

  1. 翻译means that the interface language changes depending on the target audience. The look and feel of the product stays the same; the only difference is the language.
  2. Localizationrefers to making the design of the digital product culturally relevant to the target audience. This type of change is often more dramatic: visual presentation and content strategy can be totally different.




In contrast, Pharmacy Online, an Australian pharmacy website, showed different designs to its Chinese and English-speaking visitors. The navigation, information architecture, visual design, and promoted products were all different.

制药在线.com.au。英文版(上)和中文版(下)有不同的信息架构、视觉设计和内容呈现。本网站已完全本地化。例如,中国版本将英雄形象改编为庆祝节日(the Year of the Ox) that was a major event in China at the time this screenshot was taken.

其他数码产品中期下降dle ground between localization and translation, tailoring their content and visual presentation to a certain degree.

例如,H&M的中文版和美国版有着相似的外观和感觉:它们使用了相同的信息架构和视觉设计。然而,中文版强调Lunar New Year Sales在所有横幅图片和使用的亚洲模型;美国版本推广了一个特殊的集合,与本地模型。

The H&M website used both translation and localization. The US (left) and Chinese (right) versions looked similar, but the models and sale events were localized. The American design promoted a new special collection, while the Chinese one emphasized Chinese New Year sales.


Still, sometimes it’s not feasible, worthwhile, or even necessary to have local designs for every culture, especially for smaller businesses. In this case, products or services rely mostly on translation and simply offer multiple language options.


Factors Impacting Crosscultural Designs

For a specific digital product targeting international audiences, you must decide how much to tailor the products to users from different cultural backgrounds.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • The heterogeneity levelof your target audiences
  • General cultural differencesbetween your target audience and domestic users
  • How much cultural factors impact user behavior and the tasks supported by your product
  • 品牌形象that you want to establish
  • 潜在价值你的目标市场

The Heterogeneity Level of Your Target Audiences

First, identify culturally distinctive segments and their percentages, especially when your users are scattered all over the world.


苹果网:法国版France(left) and加拿大(右)共享相同的语言,但他们的内容和促销活动完全不同。(与法国版相比,加拿大版本在文化上更接近加拿大英文版。)

Within each of the languages spoken by your audience, define: (1) if there are any culturally distinct subgroups; (2) how big these subgroups are.




In contrast, its Simplified Chinese version offered a special在线聊天功能这在其他版本中是不可用的,使用的是一种流行的中国即时通讯服务QQ。这一特点是由于消费者使用简体中文版本的相对同质性。

Stylenanda.com. The English version (middle) was a translation of the Korean version (top), with no additional localization, because of the high heterogeneity of English-speaking shoppers. The Simplified Chinese version (bottom) offered a culturally specific online chat feature based on an IM service popular in China.

General Cultural Differences

一种fter you identify a culturally homogeneous user group from your target audience and consider modifying your designs for it, you need to analyze how different they are from your domestic users and other cultures you target.

There are many possible approaches to this analysis. One is based on Hofstede’s cultural-dimensions theory, which defines 6 dimensions on which different national and cultural groups differentiate most. They are:

  • 阿宝wer distance: The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
  • Individualism vs. collectivism:人们是否对个人(个人主义者)或本集团(集体主义者)的利益提供更多重量。
  • Masculinity vs. femininity: Whether strong, very different emotion stereotypes are associated with traditional genders (masculine societies) or emotions are allowed to overlap across genders (feminine societies).
  • Uncertainty avoidance:一种文化的成员受到模棱两可或未知情况的威胁的程度。
  • 长期与短期定位:Whether the society fosters virtues such as perseverance or thrift, oriented towards future rewards (long-term orientation) or virtues related to the past and the present.
  • Indulgence vs. restraint:对享受生活和享受乐趣的态度,从自由满足人类欲望(放纵)到遵守严格的社会规范(约束)。

You can use a comparison tool such as the one provided byHofstede Insightsto figure out how two countries differ. For instance, we can learn that Australia and the United States are relatively similar in terms of all 6 dimensions, while the Japan and US have different scores forindividualism,uncertainty avoidance, 和long-term orientation.

根据霍夫斯泰德的见解,the cultural differences between Australia and the United States (top) should be smaller than those between Japan and the United States (bottom).

识别文化差异的另一种可能的方法是通过理论高中与低语境文化, proposed by anthropologist Edward T. Hall. Hall believes that people from high-context cultures prefer face-to-face communication and look for both less-direct verbal and subtler nonverbal cues during the communication. High-information density for various media formats is preferred by high-context cultures such as Chinese and Japanese. In contrast, people from low-context cultures (like the US and Scandinavian countries) rely on direct, explicit verbal cues during communication.

不管你用什么方法来了解你设计的文化,noticeable cultural differences indicate the necessity of localizing the design。但是,只看一般的文化差异是不够的;学习文化差异如何影响您的目标受众的使用是至关重要的。




  • 频率。How frequently does your target audience use your product? The lower the frequency of use, the less localized the product has to be. However, if your product completely violates a local mental model and people use it rarely, there’s a high chance that they will make the same mistake again and again, in the few instances when they use it.
  • 上下文. 您的目标用户在哪里以及如何使用您的产品?例如,他们是只在电脑上使用你的网站,还是需要在移动设备上随时查看?人们使用你的产品或服务的环境越复杂,设计就应该越本地化。
  • Interpersonal cooperation。Conduct a任务分析and learn how users achieve their primary goals. Does the task involve collaboration and communication between multiple users? If that’s the case, localized designs are more likely to be helpful since cultural differences can impact organization structures and hierarchies. For instance, an educational game designed to facilitate teaching may need more localized components than a time-killing single-person mobile game. The former involves more engagement of multiple roles.
  • How local competitors differ from yours. 进行竞争对手分析或观察你的目标受众如何使用与你类似的产品。分析你的产品和它的竞争对手之间的差异,看看他们是否在文化上是特定的,以揭示文化差异mental models对于常见的交互模式。例如,在我们的电子商务研究中,我们发现印度和中国的人在被要求结账时更喜欢一次性密码。电子邮件注册不受欢迎。在中国,通过第三方平台如支付宝和微信was also very popular. When a Chinese participant saw that a British-Portuguese ecommerce website, Farfetch, supported registration through WeChat, he was pretty amazed. “That’s wonderful and convenient. I have my mobile phone number and personal information on WeChat. If I use it to log in, there’s so much information I don’t need to fill in manually.”
英国葡萄牙语的中文版 fashion retailer Farfetch.com allowed users to login with WeChat (the green button in the screenshot), which impressed a participant during usability testing.

一般来说,你的产品或服务在日常生活中参与的越多,你的设计就应该越本地化. 因此,决定您的设计应该如何本地化或哪些组件需要本地化需要了解来自不同文化背景的人在日常生活中如何使用您的产品的全貌。


Deciding how localized your product should be also influenced by你的品牌Designs can evoke emotional responses。Those emotional responses help people appraise your product and form an impression on your brand. Sometimes, making your product look a little bit exotic isn’t bad — it can contribute to establishing your brand’s image if people know that you’re foreign.

For instance, when a Chinese participant browsed the Chinese version of the Bose website during our study, he described it as a “high-end website, like those foreign brands selling luxurious products.” He didn’t want to make purchases on this website because the information density was very low compared with other Chinese retailers like Taobao and JD.

However, the site didn’t provide any purchase options, either; it only redirected people to authorized third-party shops, like the official Bose shop on JD.com. If the intention behind the Chinese Bose website was to create a luxurious brand image rather than sell products, it worked for this participant: after his experience, he believed that Bose was a luxury brand.

一种product-detailed page on the Chinese version of Bose.com (left) vs. the official Bose shop on JD.com (right): The former had much lower information density and created a luxurious brand image; the latter, with a higher information density, was more familiar to Chinese online shoppers, and they were more likely to make purchases there.

On the other hand, localized components can make people trust your products or services, since it shows that you spent time learning about them.

For example, another middle-aged female participant commented on the QR code featured on an Australian pharmacy website, Amcal+. “I can follow them on WeChat and get to know their deals more quickly. This increases the credibility of this website.”

一种mcal.com.au. A localized component, the QR-code of the company’s official WeChat account, made a participant trust the site.

The Potential Value of the Target Market

The last but most important factor that you need to consider is the potential value of the target market.Localizing your design costs much more than mere translation.It requires commitment and communication between researchers, designers, content writers, developers, and even marketing teams.

计算ROI在决定本地化产品之前,本地化工作是至关重要的,而不是仅雇用翻译并翻译所有内容。此外,优先考虑要添加的本地化组件至关重要。一种UX roadmapcan help you prioritize, plan, and coordinate the research, design, and development efforts.


Even though you may have learned a lot about the culture you want to design for, you still need to remember that你不是用户!

在设计跨文化产品的开始时,进行实地研究,就像上文查询, with your target users. These studies can identify the role of your products or services in people’s daily lives. Observing the environment and context of use for your products and its local competitors can uncover cultural differences and potential localization directions.

Once you have your products (or prototypes) ready, conducting usability testing with international audiences can be very useful, as well. When combined with访谈,国际可用性测试can identify fundamental usability issues andcultural-specific practices, expectations, and mental models.

一种ll in all,it doesn’t matter how localized a design looks if it’s hard to use.一种s a Chinese participant who shopped at international sites a lot stated, “The visual style doesn’t matter that much. The ease of use is the key.If my shopping experience is bad, it doesn’t matter if it looks beautiful or not.

Tips for Crosscultural UX Design

Organizations that are just beginning to expand into a global market may want to build up international impact but may lack resources to create specific versions for every region they’ve reached. In that case, you may have to start with最小的国际版本。Try the following techniques:

  • 提供特定语言版本that cover as many of your international audiences as possible. In the beginning, rely mostly on translation instead of localization.
  • Cut down culturally specific elements以避免可能的混乱和挫折。遵循通用用户体验惯例。使用图像来帮助购物者在电子商务网站上导航, for instance.
  • 分析最有价值的市场and consider a design that is localized for that segment first.

When designing for a sizeable target audience with a cultural background that is different from yours, follow the steps below:

  • 了解一般文化差异。Identify the ones most relevant to your products. Based on these general differences, write down questions and assumptions to examine in subsequent research activities.
  • 确定文化差异如何影响用户的互动with your products in context. Use field studies,diary studies, 和competitor analysis to identify culturally specific practices your target audience may engage in when using your products.
  • Identify those product componentsthat would benefit most from localization and prioritize them for localization. Use a combination of research data, brand-image goals, and ROI to single out those features.
  • Test early and test often.Conduct usability testing with your target audience. Depending on the size of your target market, establish a professional local usability team if necessary.


Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, and Michael Minkov. 2010.Cultures and Organizations, Software of the mind(第三。编辑:)。麦格劳希尔。

Edward T. Hall. 1976.Beyond culture。一种nchor.