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Nowadays – in times of proceeding globalisation – the use of internet for communication is getting more and more important. People using this global communication platform come from many different cultures. Particularly for designers of websites for an international use it is necessary to keep intercultural differences of web users in mind. It is scientifically proven, that with regard to usability, intercultural differences play a central role (Barber &
Badre 1998, Culturability: The Merging of Culture and Usabiltiy; Russo & Boor 1993, How Fluent is Your Interface? – Designing for International Users).
Considering the function of colour as part of the aesthetic design in terms of usability one has to regard the correlation of aesthetics and usability. Until a few years ago most of the usability experts considered aesthetics as unimportant or even harmful for usability. Yet many experiments of the past years show, that the so called apparent usability is as important as the inherent usability. The apparent usability displays the user’s attitude against the interface just because of the design. A positive attitude strongly effects
the perception of the ease of use – the apparent usability – of the interface (Kuoru & Kashimura 1995, Apparent usability vs. inherent usability).
From one culture to another symbolic meaning, aesthetic valuation and also perception of colours differ a lot. In an experiment I could support the assumption that differences in aesthetic valuation effect the apparent usability of websites. Culture also influences both design and content or rather even the function of websites. In my research I analysed the
differences between German and Japanese university websites and the differences of students’ reactions to the websites just because of their design. For both student groups I could prove a very strong affection to the design and especially the colours and the colour coding of the “own” website. Most of the test persons were able to classify the own website correctly but failed to classify the foreign website. The habituation of the test persons that
is due to their culture was determining the perception and also the apparent usability of the website.
Download the complete Diploma Thesis (in German).