Although we think of the internet as being truly international, in truth there are distinct design trends that pop up among websites from different regions. Like any art form, website design draws from the cultural influences of its creators. A website created by a designer in Beijing may look quite different from a website created by a web designer New York, even though both have had similar training. It’s interesting to take a closer look at these different regional differences in design trends, and see where they are going in the near future. This is important for designers in particular, who need to take these small differences into account to catch the attention of an international audience.
International Design Differences
One of the primary reasons why web design differs is that some areas of the world have better internet connections than others. A region that has access to fast-paced connections can make their websites more elaborate, without slowing it down too much. In areas such as South America or India, websites might be designed with features that will use less bandwidth. They may shy away from flash animation or large graphics. On the other hand, flash is extremely popular with Japanese web designers, who benefit not only from high speed connections but also with the cultural love of video game technology. Japanese websites are often flashy, graphically rich, and interactive at the same time.
Continental European designers prefer a more minimal approach, and minimalism dominates many business websites from this region. This approach is also popular with North American designers, who may feel that overly elaborate web designs can take away from the overall message of a website. Instead, the sparse design seen on sites like Tumblr is preferred at the moment.
These same differences are also seen in web design in different regions even within the United States. Again, internet connection speeds have something to do with this, as does local culture and preferences. A Chicago web designer might approach a project quite differently from a web designer in rural Alabama, because both would have different frames of reference. Designers working for local businesses may like to put local references into a website, in order to give it greater authenticity. Yet at the same time, as the world becomes more dependent on remote and freelance workers, it’s not uncommon for a freelance designer living in Alabama to work on a website for a business based in New York City. This means that successful designers must overcome their regional differences to focus on wider trends.
Current Design Trends to Watch
At the moment, web design is headed to a more interactive and responsive future. Responsive design is a major trend for 2013, making it easy for websites to distribute their content across a variety of different devices, from smartphones to laptops. More and more consumers are now accessing websites on their mobile devices, which is why website designers are scrambling to optimize their sites to meet this demand.
Whether you are thinking about becoming a web designer or are looking for ways to increase your website’s visibility abroad, it’s helpful to keep these regional differences and current trends in mind. This will help you optimize your website for the market of your choice.