In most cases, Western companies are looking for authenticity, in order to develop understanding and trust. Design should be clean and user-friendly, with a touch of personal style.
As a Western-managed agency in China, we often work with Chinese clients who are looking to market to a global audience. This article covers the most common issues we see, and our frequently given recommendations.
Compared to their Chinese counterparts, Western clients are more likely to conduct research and analyze potential service providers from a distance before reaching out in person. Therefore, your website has a relatively more important role.
Western clients may judge you on your ability to maintain a clear and consistent message. This makes sense, as they are often looking to put their trust in a newly-met stranger over a long-distance connection.
Your logo should be easy to understand and visually uncomplicated. Some Chinese logos include full company names in English and Chinese, which if not handled properly, can become messy. If needed, consider addressing this with a graphic designer before your website's design process begins.
Make sure your company name appears consistently across the website, and that it is consistent with your logo. Though it is true that some companies in China go by multiple names for valid reasons, this can cause confusion and even distrust with Western audiences.
Use brand colors exclusively: don't arbitrarily introduce new colors on a page-by-page basis, which leads to inconsistency. If you don't have an extended color palette, it's ok — even a single color used consistently can create a strong impression.
As for typography, Western fonts offer an opportunity to introduce some personality and character that, for technical reasons, is not usually possible with Chinese web fonts.
To establish trust and authenticity, use real photos and videos whenever possible. Depending on your business, this may include real business locations, people, or products. If your existing photos aren't up to a high standard, consider hiring a photographer.
If needed, stock photography and videos are an option — but avoid fake people and poses, added-on graphics, and visual styles that are inconsistent from page to page.
Western clients are accustomed to reading native-level English, and are more likely to actually read your content — so invest some time in developing good copy.
Avoid exaggeration and excessive prose, and focus on describing yourself clearly and consistently.
On the homepage and key landing pages, don't try to say too much. Remember that most users are looking for an overview, and will follow up for more details if interested.
For most cases, clean design should be the standard. Focus on communicating as clearly as possible, with a minimum of distraction.
Rather than trying too hard to impress, look to communicate small, personal design touches in a way that is consistent and reflective of your brand.
Outstanding creative design can still be considered, but as a bonus on top of the fundamentals already described above.