The Japanese have long since proven their distinction through multiple avenues including technology, animation, food and culture. When it comes to websites, the Japanese once again create websites that truly stand out from billions of other websites.
This article delves into the heart of Japanese web designs, investigating the impact of the differences and the reasons behind their implementation.
The Beauty of Japanese Web Design
Possibly the single biggest reason why Japanese web designs stand out is their extensive use of text. Compared to regular websites, those that use English as the primary language, it seems that the use of text is, at a minimum, 150% greater. While this may seem rather silly for many web designers, the reasons are rather logical for Japanese web designers.
The primary reason for this usage is rooted within the language itself. Compared to English characters, once Japanese characters are combined, they create words that consume less space and mean more. As such, what may look like a few sentences may, in fact, be an entire paragraph.
Another major reason for extensive text usage is the need to convince buyers. Compared to many western buyers, Japanese customers require quite a significant amount of detail and convincing before they purchase an item. As such, they utilize substantially larger amounts of text.
Another major reason why Japanese web designs stand out is due to their element placement. At first glance, it becomes rather evident that Japanese web designs lack white space. Evident in the screenshot below, there is very little white space. This leads to the perception that dozens of web elements, including text and pictures, have been crammed into a tiny space. The reason? Japanese culture.
Whether it is food on their plate or the space their homes take, Japanese culture shuns wastage. As such, this culture for resource utilization translates onto their digital side, ensuring that even digital space is utilized. That is why you will rarely see white space in Japanese web designs.
Another major reason why Japanese web designs stand out from the rest is their image dimensions. For most western websites, the use of large and high resolution pictures increases the website’s overall aesthetics and aids in its impact. For Japanese websites, it is rather the opposite.
Most Japanese web designs make use of small and low resolution images at various places. While they may not be many in number, they are placed primarily for performance purposes. A study by Gomez.com and Akamau.com revealed that online viewers were likely to leave a website if it did not open within at least 6 seconds. The Japanese take this more seriously than others.
According to a recent study, Japan has over 121 million mobile phone users. In other words, roughly 95% of the population has access to mobile websites. Therefore, it is vital to ensure a smooth experience. The solution? Ensure web pages load as fast as possible by optimizing text usage and, evidently, images. This not only helps pages load faster but ensures a smoother mobile browsing experience.
While they may optimize their web pages better than anyone else, another reason why Japanese websites stand out is their relative simplicity. From Yahoo! Japan to some of the most complex corporate websites, you will notice that Japanese web designs are not only crammed, they are deceptively simple. The reason is the extensive use of older web standards.
In Japan today, there are over 7.5 million people who still use browsers that were released in 2001. With such a huge gap in technology, Japanese web designers must ensure high accessibility. The result is a lowering of web standards to ensure higher compatibility. So you will notice Japanese web designs have a large amount to text, small and low resolution images and are made on simple and backwards web standards.
This simplicity is often seen on websites that target the masses. Browser-based gaming websites, educational stores and a multitude of e-commerce websites all use rather simple designs. As stated, this usage is to ensure high compatibility. While web designs could have been made more complex, many sites would lose at least 7.5 million customers.
Overuse of Flash
For any internet user who has landed on a Japanese website, they will know just how much Japanese web designers use flash. In fact, most argue that flash is not used but overused on Japanese websites. However, the use of flash ties in closely with the simplicity of Japanese websites.
While Japanese web designs are simple, the simplest method of site enhancement while maintaining a high degree of compatibility is to make use of flash. Not only does it provide added functionality, it is easily visible on older browsers.
If there is one thing that the Japanese are known for, it’s their incredible fashion sense. Japanese fashion relies on the heavy usage and fusion of colors. The amalgamation of colors helps create some of the world’s biggest fashion trends.
Evidently, another reason why Japanese websites stand out from the rest is their clear overuse of color. Japanese websites will host a range of different colors including blue, red, pink, orange and even yellow. However, even the extensive use of color is not without reason.
Just like their fashion trends, Japanese web designs use a host of bold striking colors that invite viewer attention. To most, this may seem rather awkward but, according to Japanese web designers, it works exceptionally well. The contrasting and often conflicting colors helps draw attention to different areas on a web page, with striking colors often attracting the largest number of viewers.
As we can see, Japanese web designs are, for a lack of better words, worlds apart from the majority of web designs, particularly western designs. From their extensive use of text, color, web space and flash, to their simplicity and optimization, Japanese websites are evidently different. The only difference between one Japanese web design and the next is how they implement these differences in design.
When you think of web design and fine art, Japan is many years ahead of the west. While on the other hand, the west influences much of their web design. Some of the best western painters learned cartooning and minimalism from Japanese designers during the 19th century orientalism period through Japonica, which typically refers to Japanese influences on western culture. This brought about the Japanese influence across different art forms such as jewelry, furniture, and clothing among others. Prior to that, detail and complexity judged western fine art, and eventually web design.
Japanese web design has borrowed a lot from the west. This is especially true in the use of text, small sized images that were popular in older western websites, especially those seen in the 90’s columns, poor use of CSS – do you remember what the Yahoo! website looked like in the 90’s? That’s what you see in some of the older Japanese websites. On the contrary, modern Japanese web designers are quickly catching up with the west in aesthetics, minimalism, UX, and responsive web design.
Outstanding Japanese web designers
Have you seen any beautiful Japanese web designs? What do you think about their design that is different from the rest of the world? Have their designs been influenced by their culture and tradition? Share your thoughts with us.