Case Study 1: Comparing Japanese and English Websites

As a case study, I would like to investigate the similarities and differences between the features found in Japanese websites compared to English websites.

As the newest member of the Creativeminds team, I have studied Japanese at A Level and consequently have an interest in the lifestyle and culture, which I would like to incorporate into my work through case studies such as this one.

English Rakuten Website. http://www.rakuten.co.uk/

Japanese Rakuten Website. http://www.rakuten.co.jp/

These images depict the English and Japanese websites for the company Rakuten, an electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo, Japan. Whilst they advertise the same products, they are designed differently in order to accommodate the requirements of their different target audiences.

One of the most obvious and noticeable differences between the two websites is their use of colour. In the UK website, all the colours appear to be slightly muted and much subtler than the plethora of bright colours on the Japanese website. These bright colours are reflective of the marketing used on the busy streets of Japan, the most famous example being Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. This is eye catching and engaging for a Japanese audience, whereas the English website makes use of white space in order to highlight the product, which is more likely to entice an English audience.

In addition, the Japanese version appears to be a lot more complex than the English version in regards to its use of text. This is effective for its target audience because, whilst an English audience is more likely to be persuaded by flashy, bold headlines and images, a Japanese audience usually requires lots of reassurance and therefore would be more drawn to large amounts of text.

Another reason the Japanese website features more text than the English website might be because the Japanese characters are somewhat considered an art form. This view is demonstrated through the popularity of calligraphy, a form of decorative handwriting, throughout Japan.

A common thread between the two Rakuten web pages is the use the dark red found in the logo, although it is much more prominent in the Japanese website. This allows both websites to maintain a consistency and offer continuous reference to the brand.

English McDonalds Website. http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/menu/breakfast.html

Japanese McDonalds Website. http://www.mcdonalds.co.jp/menu/morning/index.html

Unlike the two versions of the Rakuten website which have more differences than similarities, the Japanese McDonalds website and the English McDonalds website appear to be almost identical. The Japanese website seems to adopt a style, which would be most likely be considered quite Western.

The two websites appear to follow the exact same theme, using the colour scheme of red, yellow and black, with the same header and side bar. This could be because of the nature of the brand, with its widespread popularity and the importance of maintaining its easily recognisable brand identity.

One of the most obvious differences between these two websites is the use of the large image at the top of the page on the English website, which would serve the purpose of drawing in the attention of an English audience. Whereas, a Japanese audience would be more likely be attracted to the informative text at the top of the page.

When a company is creating websites aimed at multiple different nations, they need to consider both the image of the brand and the various different customs and lifestyles found in different parts of the world. Through doing this, it enables a company to create a website that works most efficiently and effectively according to its audience.