How do Asian and Western websites differ, and why? Recent findings in experimental psychology implicate basic differences in cognitive processing.

Cascade 2

Anyone who has done UX work in Asia knows that Asian websites typically feature more visually complex designs, with a greater density of information and interactive elements, than those from America and Europe. Observers have offered a number of explanations for this difference, including a greater cultural need for security and information, higher Internet bandwidth, a less mature UX ecosystem, and more complex urban environments.

Drawing on recent research in experimental psychology, we argue that a tendency in Asian cultures towards more contextually rich and relational processing in comparison to American and European cultures can explain many of these differences. Next, we examine emerging findings that suggest similar cognitive tendencies exist based on religion, region, class, political orientation. We conclude with a summary of best practices for designing user experiences across cultural contexts, emphasizing the importance of local knowledge and user research in the increasingly diverse world of UX.

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