Back in 2014, we published an interesting selection of Japanese anime website designs. Surely you can guess that the works presented there are quite specific and original. They are very different from the generally accepted standard approaches to web design in, say, Europe or the United States. The visual design of Japanese online sites is very colorful, they use a lot of different bright graphics, images, plus the pages are literally “stuffed” with texts.
Many users find it difficult to perceive such web projects, they look confusing and even a little annoying in places. However, as you rightly noted in the comments to the last article, this approach to design is a consequence of specific cultural traditions. During the time of isolation from the outside world, its own tendencies in art have been formed there, which are also expressed in the creation of web design.
Despite the rather atypical approaches, there are a few things that can be learned from Japanese online sites. Here are 5 simple lessons, the article is a translation of this note.
Customers expect companies to be able to get as much information as possible about a product or service (from detailed specifications to warranty terms). All aspects must be spelled out in detail and explained so that the buyer knows exactly what he is buying. In Japan, attempts to deceive the visitor when certain nuances are hidden are unacceptable, and they only talk about them if someone asks.
Lesson: Respect for the customer is very important (if not key). Surely, overwhelming the visitor’s attention with a lot of information is not the best option, but they should have access to all the data regarding your product if they wish. You can hide some of the text on the page and open it on demand, or link to PDF files with descriptions and device specifications.
Japanese website design does not follow the “less is more” principle. Here, the more different elements on the page, the better it will be. Perhaps this is due to the influence of Japanese art, known for its detail.
Lesson: try to be more attentive to the details on the site, and not just check the functionality of all links. Analyze each element of the page carefully and also make sure that it is really useful to the reader / buyer.
The Japanese love bright colors, which can be seen not only on websites. If you’ve never been to this country, then surely the image of the streets of Tokyo in your imagination is full of tall buildings with luminescent blinking advertisements. In the land of the rising sun, color matters more, including in web design.
Lesson: use different colors not only to make your site look beautiful, but also to interact with users. It has been scientifically proven that a certain color palette evokes certain emotions. Therefore, choose colors wisely and also try to find out more information about their effect on a person.
Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands covering only 377.9 thousand square kilometers and home to 126.9 million inhabitants. That is, the country has the 10th largest population in the world, but it is only 62nd in terms of territory. This, in principle, explains why space plays an important role and why Japanese online sites often look so crowded. Here “every pixel” is literally involved, the developers know how to get the most out of it.
Lesson: The advice here is very simple – try to make the most of every element / part of the design.
Despite the use of almost the entire space, the concept of simplicity has taken root at the heart of Japanese culture. Don’t be fooled by the large number of different elements on a web page. For our users, all this may seem like some kind of incomprehensible heap, but these objects are there for a reason. In addition, there is nothing complicated in the design elements themselves – they are simple and understandable for any user to perceive.
Lesson: Keep it simple. People are constantly busy now, and no one wants to spend a lot of time looking for information on the site. Improve your interface designs and make them more efficient – no need to add unnecessary irrelevant features. The more convenient the site is, the longer users stay on it and the more traffic you will get as a result.
As you can see, there is a lot to learn from Japanese sites. If you summarize all 5 lessons, then the final advice looks like this – respect your client, be attentive to detail, make effective use of color and every pixel of the screen, but don’t overcomplicate the site itself… Despite the fact that many Japanese designs may seem strange, the 4th world GDP indicator of 5 trillion dollars seems to hint that they know how to do business and effective websites.
What do you think of this “Japanese direction” in web design?