Japanese Vs. American Web Sites

Japanese and American Web sites differ in more ways than language; a Forrester Research study, “How do Experiences as U.S. and Japanese Sites Compare?,” grades the differences in sit design from the two countries.

Forrester looks at 20 U.S. sites and 16 Japanese sites, and ranks each on value, navigation, presentation and trust. Most fall short of Forrester’s passing score of 25. The U.S. average is 6.4, while 3.2 is typical for Japanese sites reviewed. The study looks at a range of sites under the media and shopping categories.

Strengths and weaknesses were identified on each country’s sites. Value is the highest-scored category among U.S. sites. Japanese sites score low for value due to disjointed flow. Japanese site users have to leave one environment for another in order to get from product information to configurators or shopping functions. One example points to Honda’s Web sites in both countries. The Japanese site’s configurator link is buried below the fold, while the U.S. site places a “build and price” link and other tools at the top of its navigation structure.

“You go down a path of research on a product then you often have to go back to the home page to look for a link to the shopping site,” Ron Rogowski, the report’s lead analyst, told ClickZ Stats. “It speaks quiet volumes about the company itself, and disorganization that sits with the company that we haven’t seen before.”

Spanning multiple silos within a single organization is a problem for Japanese sites, yet most scored high for navigation thanks to more relevant search results, due to meticulous indexing, and workable interfaces with easy sorting. Japanese content sites generally provide free access to full articles; U.S. sites tend to offer free article previews.

“There was no indication on the U.S. side that you were linking to a summary where you would have to give up information to log in, or even pay for the service,” Rogowski said. “The Japanese sites had no exchange on this side because it was not necessary to get the article.”

The error-free nature of Japanese sites reflect the society’s manufacturing-like commitment. Forrester concludes the Asian sites are technically sound and bug-free, though inconsistent interfaces and disjointed experiences require a user to view multiple sites to achieve a single goal.

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