What are the new web design trends in China? As the Internet environment in China keeps on evolving, it is increasingly important for websites and e-commerce platforms to keep their presence up-to-date and meet the demands of the consumer.
Knowing web design trends in China is especially crucial for western companies who are expanding their presence into this market. Just translating your existing website into the Chinese language will not help your business. The structure and design of your western website will most likely not be successful in addressing the cultural differences and consumer behaviors typical of this market.
In this post, we will not try to determine whether Western or Chinese web design is better or more effective. Our aim is to help you understand how people perceive, or use the web in China. The following points will provide you with valuable insights which will make your web design appealing to the Chinese audience. To achieve the best results in China, it is crucial to be assisted by a web designer with a firm grasp on the local market and a good sense of successful web design in China.
Why Web Design in China is Different
If you have surfed Chinese websites before, you may have been overwhelmed by the number of links and text you may find on a single page. At times, Chinese sites may make you feel like you are stuck in the year 2000 when overcrowded and confusing web pages were the norm.
The lack of development in Chinese web design has been perceived by many as if the country had been left behind, or as a symptom of poor quality. In reality, there are specific reasons for these significant differences between Western and Chinese web design.
One critical reason is the nature of the Chinese language and how it is handled by the “search” function. The “search” algorithm is amazingly effective in English or similar languages. With typing a single word, the algorithm can easily refer to a large amount of related content making your research for additional information very simple and efficient.
Things become more complicated in Chinese because each word is not a sequence of characters, but instead, each word is represented by the shape of the character. For this reason, getting accurate results from a search is much more complicated and the results are often quite poor. As a result, in the past, web designers often opted to have as much content as possible displayed on a single page to make it easier for users to explore content.
However, what we will consider next, is our assisting in this new trend that we have seen of more web designers in China switching to a minimalist design.
Another factor that has hindered web development in China is the reluctance of many Webmasters to explore new solutions. Many businesses simply looked at successful websites as a reference point. The majority of the time, they requested to build their platform following the same design since they believed that was the only way to succeed. Therefore, new solutions were often rejected unless they were first implemented on major websites and this approach has led to slower changes.
New Web Design Trends in China
2018 has seen an increase in minimalistic web design in China. Many businesses are following the pattern set by some big companies like, for instance, Lenovo who has redesigned their platform with a minimalistic approach.
This signals a major change from overcrowded web pages to a more relaxed design. Nowadays, Chinese websites look similar to what we see in the western world.
However, the habit of having massive amounts of links and information on a single web page continues to affect the user’s behavior. The Chinese still love to have as much information as possible upfront.
Nielsen Norman Group has conducted an interesting study that revealed that today the average Chinese user prefers a simple web design while maintaining a considerable amount of information upfront.
Therefore, web pages shouldn’t be too minimal, otherwise, users may think the company is trying to hide information, or has nothing much to say. Therefore, even though the overall design is minimalistic, hyperlinks and previews must be more descriptive than in the western world to instill confidence in the user and provide them with the experience that they are looking for.
Enhanced User Experience
User experience is as relevant in China as it is in the western world. Navigation must be easy, intuitive and quick. However, even in this case, a Chinese website must comply with some local basics.
Even if a minimalistic approach to web design has solved the problem of overcrowded and complicated web pages, the problem with the search feature we outlined before still persists.
Therefore, the design has to be well thought out and implemented in a way to give direct access to as much information as possible. This can be done by creating multiple levels of navigation that redirect to shorter web pages instead of long ones (which is often the case in the western world). It is customary on native Chinese websites to make large use of sub-menus and sub-sub-menus.
Moreover, navigation menus must be organized not vertically, but horizontally, since the horizontal structure is easier to scan in the Chinese language. Especially if you are creating a Chinese version of your existing website, you must seriously consider completely redesigning the navigation system altogether instead of replicating the existing one.
Careful attention must be given to the language. Automated translations do not work at all in Chinese since the language is way too complicated. A poor or grammatically incorrect translation will demean the trustworthiness of your business and could be perceived as disrespectful. Therefore, we warmly advise you to hire a qualified copywriter, fluent in the local language, to translate or, preferably, rewrite your content.
Responsive design is now a priority in web design. However, in China a mobile-first approach is not enough, so a mobile-only design is what you should aim for.
According to the Internet Network Information Center’s (CNNIC) Internet Usage report (2017), 95% of Chinese users access the Internet from a mobile device. The report shows the large role that mobile devices play in China.
You should expect your user to visit your website primarily from a mobile device and you must focus your web design on that. Given the extensive use of mobile devices, all major companies have an Official WeChat Account connected to their business, which represents another significant trend in China, as we will explain later on.
Colors and Innovative Design
Western websites in 2018 have made an extensive use of bright colors, gradient, and 3D design which has injected elements of innovation in web design. As a result, today websites are more captivating and engaging, adding visual elements that entertain the visitor and extend the average time on the web page.
The same trend is somewhat popular in Chinese web design too. However, when making use of colors in China you must be aware of important cultural differences. Colors in China have meanings and using a color poorly may affect the performances of your business.
For instance, the color white in the western world is used to add elegance and relaxation while in China it is associated with death and must be avoided. A black background should be avoided as well since it will be associated with something negative, if not evil. Even pleasing colors like red and gold must be used carefully since overusing them may have a different connotation. For instance, if you add too much yellow to your website, it will be quickly associated with pornography.
Today, web design in China calls for innovative design, but cultural differences must be taken into consideration. It is challenging for foreign companies to understand the local culture and pitfalls are always around the corner. To avoid possible problems, a web design agency in China is in the best position to give you the needed direction to adapt the Chinese version of your website to the local standards.
Put simply, a website in China cannot thrive without a strong WeChat presence. WeChat has become the most widely used social network in China and your website must be connected to it.
Every successful business in China has a WeChat Official Account to connect their website with the social network platform. This is one of the most important trends in web design in China.
WeChat usage in China is so extensive and used for so many tasks, from accessing information to buying products, that users expect to find WeChat on your platform. For instance, unlike in the western world, QR codes are commonplace in China and it is customary for users to scan them when on a screen in order to access functionalities, register for services, download material, or make quick payments.
Moreover, online businesses offer WeChat apps or WeChat mini programs that run along the official website with the purpose of enhancing the user experience. These features are used to attract more visitors to the website, as a marketing tool, and, most importantly, to promote good customer-to-company relationships which are highly valued in China.
Opening a WeChat Official Account may be somewhat challenging for a foreign company. However, your Chinese audience is expecting to see your website connected to WeChat. If this is not the case, your business in China will not be as successful.
2018 web design trends in China have opened the way to exciting innovations in the Internet community. Chinese web developers now have more opportunities to experiment with new solutions. Additionally, foreign companies will be more comfortable with a web design closer to their standard.
However, every foreign company that wants to enter the Chinese market must remember that web design trends in China are still influenced by deeply entrenched web behaviors and local culture. Trying to approach web design in the Chinese market on your own will seldom ever contribute to good branding and will frequently leave you disappointed. Having the support of a web design agency in China with a thorough understanding of local web design and culture is the most effective solution to pave the way for your success in the Chinese market.