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Chinese website design: Communication as a mirror of culture (01a Articolo in rivista)

Capece G., Di Pillo F.

Companies now depend on the internet for internal and external communications, however the web is not necessarily neutral. The multitude of company websites within the global system present varying linguistic, cultural and communication characteristics, which determine different experiences depending on the local culture of the user. The design of culturally appropriate websites is viewed as essential to communication, mainly for marketing. This article therefore aims at analysing the impact of cultural characteristics on web design and marketing communication. China presents a vast market and internet population, with specific cultural characteristics, and for these reasons is the subject chosen for study. The study develops a methodology based on an adaptation of Hofstede’s and Hall’s cultural dimensions for purposes of analysing website content. The methodology makes it possible to measure the projection of underlying cultural characteristics in website design.The content analysis of 75 websites Chinese companies quoted on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets reveals that their design reflects local cultural characteristics. Furthermore, the analysis of the Chinese and English versions of the websites reveals that there the latter provide virtually no adaptation to an international clientele, particularly as concerns the indicators of Collectivism, Uncertainty Avoidance and Long Term Orientation.
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