Asian and Middle Eastern Web Design vs. Western Design
Just like art, literature, music, food, and clothing, web design differs from country to country.
The same factors that influence music, food, and clothing influence web design. Websites are designed for certain areas based on the social mores of that area. They also will play on the certain expectations that readers have come to bear. For example, English speakers will expect a website to be oriented in a left to right, top to bottom direction. In fact, if you’re a native English speaker, you might not have even noticed that this happens. When you are looking for toolbars and menus, they are often on the left side of the page. That’s because the English language begins at the left side of a page at the top. So, websites written for native English speakers are also oriented this way. It’s also the easiest way to introduce English text to a website. If the site were oriented right to left, the text wouldn’t fit as fluidly.
Differences between Arabic and English
Arabic is a language that is written right to left, top to bottom. So, just on the surface, it seems to move backwards to English viewers. Imagine if a loading bar moved right to left; you would have a hard time understanding why the bar was moving backwards. So, that’s how a bar moving left to right would look to a native Arabic speaker. That’s one reason website localisation is important. If potential customers come to your website and everything seems to be moving backwards, it might seem like you don’t understand the market you are trying to enter. Therefore, your customers might not trust you to deliver on your promises, and bring a product that they want.
In addition to being written right to left, Arabic letters are connected; in English, this would be thought of as cursive writing. Cursive handwriting is typically reserved for scripts and signatures. If you opened a website and the entire thing was in cursive format, you would probably be somewhat put off. Arabic is not this way; so, it might seem to English readers that Arabic websites are crammed with language and text.
Asian websites are similar. Many Asian languages lack spaces between words. So, their readers are accustomed to uninterrupted blocks of text. Arabic readers are accustomed to strings of text that seem to Western readers to run together.
Website design tailored for localisation is a type of design that focuses on creating websites that seem like they are created for specific local markets. That involves translating your website into certain languages, but also adapting them to the social and design-related mores of the target culture. For example, you would add more images and gifs to a website for a Japanese market than you would for a British market. For an Arabic-speaking market, you would flip the direction of your website as well as incorporating strings of longer text. Website design can create the impression that you understand the culture in which you are trying to operate. That’s a very good step when it comes to expanding your business.