Cultural Customisation


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Cultural customization of websites for Japanese subsidiaries of global companies

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Cultural Customisation

  1. 1. Cultural customisation of websites for Japanese subsidiaries of global companies s1190038 Takeyuki Matsumoto
  2. 2. What is the Cultural Customization? Cultural customization is a fundamental step for reaching a global audience with your website, and should be completed as part of website translation and website localization. While many website owners treat this step as optional, it should be treated as integral. Website cultural customization can do a lot to validate your presence on the web with your target locale and ensure the effectiveness of your website to locale specific users. Cultural adaption involves perception, symbolism and behavior.
  3. 3. What is a Cultually Customized Website? UNIQLO WEBSHOP ENGLISH
  4. 4. What is a Cultually Customized Website? UNIQLO WEBSHOP JAPANESE
  5. 5. What is the Culturally Customizing? Culturally customizing a website may sound like a lot of work, and if you are starting with a standard website that had no preparation, considerable effort may be required. However, if you plan for cultural customization at the time a website is initially designed, your work will be considerably reduced.
  6. 6. Cultural customize is a kind of means of communication ☆ Communication reflects complete “immersion” in the culture of the target market ☆ Communication addresses three levels of cultural adaption: perception, symbolism, and behavior ☆ Communication goes beyond simple translation and cosmetic adaption when targeting different countries and/or cultures Cultural customization begins where basic “localization“ ends.
  7. 7. Types of websites The websites can be defined the stage of the following three types. ☆ Standard website ☆ Localized websites ☆ Culturally customized websites
  8. 8. Standard websites This type of website has only one language (usually English) and the same content is intended to reach all countries. No effort was made in terms of website translation, website localization or website internationalization.
  9. 9. Localized websites This type of website ranges from websites with some translated landing pages, websites that are fully translated (localized), to websites that not only offer users with translated content, but also with content specific to their country or locale.
  10. 10. Culturally customized websites This type of website not only takes into account the language and locale of the target audience, but also one or more levels of cultural adaptation: perception, symbolism and behavior.
  11. 11. Retail Product Design and Marketing Excite Japan: Devoted exclusively to women
  12. 12. Perception of Images ☆ Western and Eastern people look at the world in different ways. ☆ Researchers compared the way Japanese, USA, and Russia students viewed photographs.
  13. 13. Contents to Consider of Customizing ・Graphics ・Elements with text ・Human body elements and body language ・Humor, puns, and slang ・Physical environments ・Ethnic, racial, political, and religious environments ・Gender-specific elements ・Images of animals ・Sexual and violent elements ・Regional conventions, such as reading direction, date/time, and monetary elements
  14. 14. Five Dimensions of Cultural Customization In the mid 1970's, the Dutch academic, Geert Hofstede, based his five dimensions of culture on an extensive survey at IBM in which he investigated the influence of national culture. His methodology was both unique in size as well in structure. He defined organisational culture is an idea system that is largely shared between organisational members. Hofstede was able to statistically distinguish cultural differences between countries. Hofstede classified a county's cultural attitudes as five dimensions:
  15. 15. Five Dimensions of Cultural Customization ☆ Power Distance ☆Individualism & Collectivism ☆Masculinity & Femininity ☆Uncertainty Avoidance ☆High-Low context
  16. 16. Power Distance The extent to which power is distributed equally within a society and the degree that society accepts this distribution. A high power distance culture prefers hierarchical bureaucracies, strong leaders and a high regard for authority. A low power distance culture tends to favour personal responsibility and autonomy.
  17. 17. Power Distance Japan is a society that is rooted in tradition, hierarchy, and both social customs and role structure. In this society being aware of social hierarchal structures and acknowledging them is important. Example: see how proudly the CyberAgent website displays the CEO’s message and depicts them with high honor and respect.
  18. 18. Individualism & Collectivism The degree to which individuals base their actions on selfinterest versus the interests of the group. In an individual culture, free will is highly valued. In a collective culture, personal needs are less important than the group's needs. This dimension influences the role government is expected to play in markets. In collectivist cultures like Japan, the needs, values and goals of the family and societal unit take precedence over individual goals.
  19. 19. Collectivism Japan is a collectivist society that places emphasis on group-relations, family and the extended social network. Social network sites and group dating are popular. See the image used at the BEAMS website for Japan showing a grandfather, father and son shaving their beard together.
  20. 20. Masculinity & Femininity A measure of a society's goal orientation: a masculine culture emphasises status derived from wages and position; a feminine culture emphasises human relations and quality of life. Masculine is a belief in achievement and ambition, on the other hand feminine is a belief in nurturing and caring for others. Japan is an extremely masculine culture.
  21. 21. Masculinity & Femininity In Japanese culture it is important to succeed, challenge and at the same time conform to the group norms and not “stand out”. Games and quizzes are a way of relaxing, challenging oneself and at the same time not being in direct competition with others. One example is that Nissin has a web game section for children on their site to play while waiting for three minutes since put the hot water into the cup noodle.
  22. 22. Uncertainty Avoidance The degree to which individuals require set boundaries and clear structures: a high uncertainty culture allows individuals to cope better with risk and innovation; a low uncertainty culture emphasises a higher level of standardisation and greater job security. People from cultures high on uncertainty avoidance like Japan tend to have low tolerance for uncertainty.
  23. 23. Uncertainty Avoidance As Japan is a very risk-averse society. In general it is important to reduce risk, anxiety and uncertainty that Japanese consumers might have shopping online. For example, using graphics and pictures of support personnel along with some graphic designs for products may help to reduce the anxiety.
  24. 24. High-Low Context Anthropologist Edward T. Hall’s theory of high- and low-context culture helps us better understand the powerful effect culture has on communication. A key factor in his theory is context. This relates to the framework, background, and surrounding circumstances in which communication or an event takes place.
  25. 25. High-context cultures High-context cultures (including much of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and South America) are relational, collectivist, intuitive, and contemplative. People in these cultures are less governed by reason than by intuition or feelings. Words are not so important as context, which might include the speaker’s tone of voice, facial expression, gestures, posture—and even the person’s family history and status. Japanese are a homogeneous people and don’t have to speak as much as American do here. When Japanese say one word, they understand ten, but here American have to say ten to understand one. High-context communication tends to be more indirect and more formal. Flowery language, humility, and elaborate apologies are typical.
  26. 26. Low-context cultures Low-context cultures (including North America and much of Western Europe) are logical, linear, individualistic, and action-oriented. People from lowcontext cultures value logic, facts, and directness. Solving a problem means lining up the facts and evaluating one after another. Decisions are based on fact rather than intuition. Discussions end with actions. And communicators are expected to be straightforward, concise, and efficient in telling what action is expected. To be absolutely clear, they strive to use precise words and intend them to be taken literally. Explicit contracts conclude negotiations. This is very different from communicators in high-context cultures who depend less on language precision and legal documents. Highcontext business people may even distrust contracts and be offended by the lack of trust they suggest.
  27. 27. High-Low Context Japanese culture is very high context and very accepting of graphics, colors and images to add depth and context to the communication. At the same time, this reduces uncertainty. Kawaii is the Japanese term for “cute” and it highly valued in Japan. There are a lot of cute characters in the web site of Sanrio.
  28. 28. After website translation and website localization, if you are going to do cultural customization for your website, you and your translation services agency should take the following issues into consideration:
  29. 29. Using Unicode The very first step in cultural customization is to make sure that a website will be able to display any language. The Unicode Standard is the universal character encoding standard for written characters and text. It defines a consistent way of encoding multilingual text. Unicode characters are represented in one of three encoding forms: a 32-bit form (UTF-32), a 16-bit form (UTF-16), and an 8-bit form (UTF-8). UTF-8 has been designed for ease of use with existing ASCII-based systems and it is usually the default encoding that you should be using on any webpage. Setting up the right encoding will ensure that your website's contents will be correctly displayed. Most Content Management Systems (CMS) already handle all content as UTF-8 encoded text.
  30. 30. Flexible Design If possible, use a highly flexible or "fluid" design that allows pages to scale based on what content is in them. If we take an English word as a base, the same word in Russian could be up to 60% longer, while in many Asian languages it could be less than a half the width. Based on the complexity of Asian languages, you may need to scale fonts by about a 120% so they are legible. So, as a rule of thumb, you should avoid using fixed sized structures with text in it - space should be allowed to expand or contract in accordance with the size of the text.
  31. 31. Adding "Culture" to the mix Our culture affects the way we see the physical world and the meanings we attribute to objects in our environment. As noted before, culture is shaped by our perception of the word (how we select, filter, organize and interpret information), symbolism (a person's capacity to respond to or use a system of significant symbols used to understand their environment and create a social reality) and behavior (what forces us to behave and react the way we do). If you're designing a website for a culturally diverse audience, you should carefully consider what visual representations you use on your website, as their meanings can vary considerably from culture to culture.
  32. 32. Perception There are many factors that affect perception. One of the most important and easiest factors to adjust after website localization is color. People from different cultures do not perceive colors in the same way. The next chart gives some examples of color and their meaning in different cultures.
  33. 33. Naturally you can't accommodate every single culture with your design. But if your website is correctly structured and you have your content separated from your design (as you should), adjusting the main "theme" of a website is as easy as dropping a couple of selectors on the main CSS with a lang=xxx attribute selector.
  34. 34. Symbolism We all use symbols, almost unconsciously, on a daily basis. We don't even have to think about them as we take their meaning for granted. But there are times when the same symbol could mean two completely different things from one culture to another. One of the common examples is the Swastika: most of us will associate it with the Nazi movement. But for Hindus, it is the symbol of good luck and well-being. The swastika is used in all Hindu yantras and religious designs.
  35. 35. Symbolism Another seemingly harmless example is the "thumbs-up" gesture. Many countries recognize this as a sign of approval or confirmation, and a graphic designer looking for a graphical way to let users know that they have successfully completed an action might be tempted to base an icon on this image. However, in modern day Afghanistan, Iraq and parts of Greece, Italy and France this simple gesture can be considered to be very impolite. In fact it is often regarded as the equivalent of the "middle finger salute" used in the UK and USA.
  36. 36. Behavior Behavior is defined by the preceding cultural values : Collectivism, Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Masculinity-Femininity and High-Low Context. Behavior is what it "drives" us to do something and it is an entire topic by itself. Basic behavior is influenced by the tone of the writing in content, images, layout, etc. It has a big influence on any "Call-to-Action", as they are tightly connected.
  37. 37. Behavior This concept is the hardest point to implement, as it may involve significant design changes, modification to the tone of the writing, and swapping images. For instance, a woman in a scanty swimsuit draped over a red sports car would be inappropriate for many global target markets.
  38. 38. Points to achieve cultural customization As you can see, creating a culturally correct website could be as huge task if you want to do it "by the book." But most of these tasks can be accomplished by doing moderate research on target locales, coding the website following the recommended standards, and adjusting the localized website content to avoid insulting the target, global audience.
  39. 39. Points to achieve cultural customization The first items (using Unicode and flexible design) should not have a big impact on the website localization budget. If the design process took colors and symbols into consideration, probably only minor adjustments would be required, based on the locale, with minimal cost.
  40. 40. Points to achieve cultural customization Behavior is the hardest point to achieve, not only because of the technical issues (you may need to have different templates for different regions) but also because maintenance costs can sometimes be very high.
  41. 41. Japanese Website Customization Considerations and Symbols An ancient culture like Japan has accrued a long list of symbols and icons that convey special cultural meaning. It is important to be aware of these cultural connotations to avoid any cultural blunders and inadvertent use of offensive symbols.
  42. 42. Examples of cultural connotations ・Tai (Sea bream) fish are considered lucky as the word rhymes with "medetai," the Japanese word for auspicious. ・Koi have been developed for their beauty and are considered a symbol of strength, courage, and patience. ・A white carnation symbolizes death. ・The word "four" in Japanese sounds like death and items packaged in fours are unpopular. ・Black cats are considered unlucky. ・Chopsticks should not be stuck into rice as that symbolizes death.
  43. 43. References ¨The Culturally Customized Web Site¨ Nitish Singh, Arun Pereira Taylor & Francis, 2005/04/06 - 163 pages ¨Culturally Customizing Websites for Immigrant Communities in the United States¨ Baack, Daniel W.; Singh, Nitish; Baack, Donald, Journal of promotion management : JPM.- Binghamton, NY : Haworth Press, ISSN 1049-6491, ZDB-ID 13284459. - Vol. 19.2013, 1, p. 38-53 ¨Niamh Davis When Internet Marketing is your passion!¨ ¨The Jensen Localization Blog¨ ¨The Culturally Customized Web Site By Nitish Singh And Arun Pereira¨ ¨Dave Weston | Success¨ ¨Wikipedia - Internationalization and localization¨
  44. 44. Resources ¨Woman Excite Japan¨ ¨UNIQLO¨ ¨Cyber Agent¨ ¨BEAMS¨ ¨NISSIN CUP NOODLE¨ ¨SANRIO¨ ¨THE HOFSTEDE CENTRE¨