Cultural Concerns

Globalization has created vast economic opportunities for corporations but at the same time it has also forced them to learn more about cross-cultural differences. Websites have become an effective and cheap method of expanding into international markets because it doesn’t require capital investments in physical facilities. But at the same time, even E-Commerce presents certain cross-cultural challenges. First of all, the interface and design of the website is important because different cultures may have different perception of the same color and similarly, symbols may hold different meanings in different cultures. In addition, customers in different cultures have often different information requirements. Websites in certain countries such as Singapore and Brazil are known to provide more detailed information than Germany and Australia etc.

Language is another important aspect to consider. Translations are not always possible because some words have unique cultural meanings and in addition, words often face the same challenge as colors in that they could have different meanings in different cultures. The website designer should also keep in mind that internet users in different cultures may have different navigation habits thus, one size fits all solution may only confuse visitors in other cultures even if it is applauded as being user-friendly at home. Similarly, websites should also keep in mind the cultural values of international audience. For e.g. cows are sacred in India, alcohol is illegal in most Muslim countries, and swimsuit pictures may offend website visitors in certain traditional and conservative countries.

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