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The Internet

The Puzzle of Japanese Web Design 242

Posted by kdawson
from the how-to-pack-five-eggs dept.
I'm Not There (1956) writes "Jeffrey Zeldman brings up the interesting issue of the paradox between Japan's strong cultural preference for simplicity in design, contrasted with the complexity of Japanese websites. The post invites you to study several sites, each more crowded than the last. 'It is odd that in Japan, land of world-leading minimalism in the traditional arts and design, Web users and skilled Web design practitioners believe more is more.'"
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The Puzzle of Japanese Web Design

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  • Not my experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:56AM (#33026656)

    > Japan's strong cultural preference for simplicity in design

    What? It's the exact opposite.

    This is my only real complaint about Japan. I can't stand the shops here. There are colored flashy signs everywhere, and you can always hear at least a dozen different adverts at the same time.

    Likewise every device is ridiculously complex. My fan has 6 buttons and a remote control. Just to blow air! And the toilet has a dozen buttons and two knows to adjust seat and water temperature. Everything is completely overdesigned.

  • by OnePumpChump (1560417) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:11AM (#33026734)
    It isn't just a language thing. Japanese web pages usually have 2-3 times as many distinct regions with distinct functions on screen at any given time versus American ones. It's like every Japanese website is Amazon (one of the few major offenders in the US)
  • Not so sure (Score:3, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:21AM (#33026782) Journal
    I'm not so sure he's right, looking at the examples he gave. The examples are crowded and small (even the banner ads are smaller than on American web pages, maybe because they tend to have smaller laptops with smaller screens in Japan), but they aren't cluttered. They are simple in the sense that they present just what is needed, and nothing more. I think this matches the Japanese style he is referring to.

    Just for comparison, look at the Japanese Ministry of Health [mhlw.go.jp] and Ontario Ministry of Health [gov.on.ca] web page. They both start out with a similar header, announcing what page you are on and showing the search function, but the Japanese page takes about half as much space. Then on the Japanese side it's just a solid wall of information from top to bottom. I question their color choices, but as someone else mentioned, Japanese like bright colors.

    The Ontario web page then has a huge, stock-photo section with a small little section on each one. What a waste of space. I should say, to me it looks fine, but the same information could have been presented in significantly less space, and the photos, while pretty, are nothing more than that.

    So I think it's just a matter of Japanese trying to fit the most amount of information into the least amount of space. Or maybe they don't trust stock photography of smiling people, I don't know.
  • Re:Not my experience (Score:4, Informative)

    by purpledinoz (573045) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:00AM (#33026954)
    I have to totally agree. I was trying to use this shower in Japan, but it took me 10 minutes to figure out how to use it. There was a huge control panel full of buttons to adjust temperature, pressure, shower head type, and so on. From then on, I truly appreciated the simplicity of the single lever tap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:29AM (#33027050)

    Something about being able to read the characters makes it seem less cluttered. I used to think signs in Chinatown were overcrowded and very loud, but when I spent an extended time in China and learned to read, it no longer seemed very cluttered. Easier to read from a distance, though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:32AM (#33027070)

    I was thinking about how I liked the presentation of Japanese or Chinese books but then I also remembered that the characters were vertically aligned, which is next to impossible to do with simple HTML + CSS today. I mean, there's a part of the CSS3 specification defining the problem of vertical aligned characters with right to left or left to right flow, but it's a part of the norm which is ignored by almost any browser.
    Half of their typographical techniques are just crippled by the current state of the implementation of web standards and I think that, maybe, if they are implemented and used, those website could render a tad better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:25AM (#33027324)

    The Korean web is worse than Geocities. Allow me to explain why there will be a special place in Hell for Korean web designers.

    • Banking and e-commerce sites require ActiveX components. (See: Korea Exchange Bank [keb.co.kr], click "Personal Banking.")
    • Flash is often used for basic menu navigation. (See: Hi, Seoul [seoul.go.kr].)
    • DHTML pop-ups. (See: Suri High School [suri.hs.kr].)
    • New window pop-ups. (See: e-People [epeople.go.kr].)
    • Text is often difficult to copy (JavaScript). (See: Bakdal Elementary School [nuripass.co.kr].)
    • Text is often impossible to copy (images). (See: 7 days vacation [7v.co.kr].)
    • Layout is busted (IE-only design). (See: eMode Tour [emodetour.co.kr].)
    • Site is non-operational (IE-only JavaScript). (See: Why Pay More [whypaymore.co.kr].)
  • by Yaa 101 (664725) on Monday July 26, 2010 @08:24AM (#33028788) Journal

    Because IKEA is swedish?

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