Challenges in Building a Culture-Centric Web Site

Challenges in Building a Culture-Centric Web Site

Tom S. Chan (Southern NH University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-116-2.ch015


This chapter discusses the challenges in constructing a culture-centric Web site. The Internet has expanded business opportunities into global marketplaces that were virtually unreachable in the past. With business Web sites reaching international audiences, cultural differences are an important issue in interface design. Global Web sites must be culture-centric, taking into account the attitude, technology, language, communication, sensibility, symbolism, and interface usability of targeted communities. Site design and development also should follow the Unicode standard for multilingual support with implementation done on UTF-8-enabled operating systems and applications. Globalization has led many people to become more sensitive to cultural diversity. The author hopes that understanding and awareness of international user needs, limitations, and expectations will lead to global Web sites with improved usability and sensitivity.
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The Digital And Cultural Divides

The term digital divide traditionally has described inequalities in access to technology among social or cultural groups. Although there has been a huge increase in Net speed in the industrialized world, the trend is not global. A recent survey revealed about 36 million broadband lines in the U.S. compared to 295,000 in India (Point Topic, 2005), and India is a high-tech powerhouse with a population 30 times that of the US. Many international users also use older technologies (including older computers and browsers) or lack items such as video and sound cards. Net access is only one aspect of the digital divide. The quality of connections and auxiliary services, the processing speed and the capabilities of the computer used, along with many other technical factors are also important issues (Davison & Cotton, 2003). Designers who ignore users’ technological capabilities by creating sites that must be viewed with the latest technologies or with the fast connections are dooming their projects from the outset.

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