If there is one thing that best describes modern Japanese websites, it would have to be simplicity. Contemporary Japanese web design is characterized by simple and straightforward display features that reflect the country’s unruffled and clean culture. This should by no means be taken as a negative because there is a unique beauty that can be found in Japanese-style web design.
But now and again, you see websites in Japanese that looks so cluttered not because this nation enjoys chaos but more so because of their aging population’s use of old devices running on Internet Explorer and older browser versions. Old people do not embrace change too easily so in order to keep design inclusive, many popular Japanese websites are built with older browsers in mind.
For popular Japanese websites such as the one above, it must be noted that their layouts allow users to access information without the need to scroll when visitors are on the main page. Everything is crowded into the space, which appeals to the older generation, who find it difficult to adapt to the idea that you need to go through a lot of buttons and steps just to get to the information you are looking for. The West can learn a lot from the intuitive interface of Japanese websites. Many websites from that side of the world tend to focus more on the needs of a younger group of internet users - the ones who are used to swiping, clicking and scrolling to get to where they need to in the web.
In the West, websites put so much importance on engaging visuals and strong images to convey their message. On the other hand, the best Japanese websites are actually quite text-heavy by nature. Consider these two different websites by the same company - one caters to the US market while the other is for the Japan market. Notice how the US website uses more images in a grid layout to engage its visitors. Navigating through the different webpages can be done through the image thumbnails.
Meanwhile, the Japan version of the website uses text links to direct users to different parts of the site. Japanese website templates allot a significant amount of space for text-heavy content because of the nature of the Nihongo language. Japanese characters are graphic so when you combine them to create words and sentences, they don’t use as much space as the English alphabet.
Japanese web users need to be convinced with detailed information before they engage a business or buy a product. As opposed to Western consumers who tend to be more attracted to packaging and aesthetic., Japanese buyers put so much importance on making informed decisions. This explains the heavy use of text for websites in Japanese. With Japanese sentences taking up less space than English sentences, website owners get a lot more room to add more details and information on the product or service they are promoting.
To a web visitor from the West, a Japanese website may seem too busy and cluttered because of the lack of white space. Japanese sites tend to cram everything in such a small space by using smaller graphics. This could be rooted from the idea that the Japanese don’t really like waste so they don’t take too well to so much underutilized digital space. Japanese websites reduce file sizes and ensure that their pages load much quicker by using low-resolution images and optimized text.
Japanese website design may not work well with a Western audience but if there is one thing you want to take away from these sites, it’s that they place a huge importance on maximizing space and making it easier for their audience to understand their product or service more. They try to be as informative as they can through their content. This is what we should all be aiming for when we create websites.