Website Localisation: dislocated from history? – 26/06/2010

As an educator, one of the tasks I set my students is to compare multilingual websites or discuss how monolingual, yet multinational, websites can be, and are, localised. The reports I got from my students were fantastic – websites, especially those that are of a more commercial nature, can be radically different across cultures, presumably dependent on the demographics of that particular culture’s interwebs trailblazers.

Slashdot has a discussion looking at Japanese sites and how their complexity breaks from the perceived (by western society) design minimalism that Japan is famous for.

“Jeffrey Zeldman brings up the interesting issue of the paradox between Japan’s strong cultural preference for simplicity in design, contrasted with the complexity of Japanese websites. The post invites you to study several sites, each more crowded than the last. ‘It is odd that in Japan, land of world-leading minimalism in the traditional arts and design, Web users and skilled Web design practitioners believe more is more.'”

From my perspective, I can see why the question is asked – but it also occurs to me that the sites mentioned aren’t necessarily that busy – potentially that perception is based on the ‘foreign-ness” of the Japanese characters? At least one commentator agrees with this analysis, pointing out that the English version of the JAL site is more palatable to our western eye than the Japanese version.

Do websites across you language pairs differ markedly?