Product localization

Localize contents and design

Introducing products and software to different regions and to different customers and users require to adapt to local needs and environments.

Example: Wal-Mart supermarket in China

Wal-Mart’s strategy has been to adapt their marketing methods to meet the needs of locals.

… Wal-Mart has catered to the Chinese market in two noticeable ways. First, Wal-Mart has listened to the consumer. They offer more perishable products, such as live seafood, to compete with the wet markets. Items are tailored for people with lower disposable income. Labels are printed with the local language and products are adjusted for smaller quantities per visit. In the US, customers typically drive to Wal-Mart and purchase in bulk for the week. In China, customers typically walk or bike to Wal-Mart and purchase just enough for the day. After all, Chinese apartments tend to be much smaller than American homes. …

Source: METAN Development Group, August 2009 newsletter

Example: Nokia mobile phones

The population of 600 million Chinese mobile users has grown very demanding, the Chinese have high expectations about how their services should look and function.

In China, Nokia sees two opposing aspects of culture for mobile design and services:

  • In the popular culture, bigger, louder, and brighter often does better. On a symbolic and emotional level, abundant, dense, and lavish designs evoke images of popularity and success. On a practical level, low-level users of services simply appreciate the fact that they can find everything they need in one place.
  • In high society, the situation is reversed, and the design aesthetic is geared towards minimalism and the individual.

More often than not, products and services are designed to attract the largest possible base of users and market share, so visual design in China tends towards the popular: abundant and dense.

Compared to most Western users who still appear to use their devices mainly for voice and messaging purposes, those in China more often play with and use the newest device features.

Source: Nokia Design update: China

Conclusions

Introducing products and software to different regions and to different customers and users result in following requirements and product localization strategies:

  • Concentrate on user’s expectations and demands.
  • Use language of end users, adapt software to regional differences and users’ preferences.
  • Colours, symbols and grafic should reflect visual language and emotions of the users.
  • Test your product and services with local users on-site.

Even though many Chinese are interested in Western ideas, products aimed at the Chinese market should be designed in the local style.

Links

10 Tips for International User Interfaces

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