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Make Your Design Multicultural

Posted on August 4, 2011

Category: General

So you’re side project is finally starting to take off. You’ve cornered the home market and carved out a wide niche for yourself within the local scene. No matter where that scene may be, you will eventually want to expand your product to a worldwide audience. Even if you aren’t conquering the world with your graphic designs just yet, it’s still worth designing your project to be globe-spanning from the ground up. The Internet is for the whole planet: By creating your site to be multicultural, you can widen your audience and ensure that you take as big a chunk of the pie as possible.


Basic Design Principles for a Multicultural Design

As the age old adage goes, content really is king. Your text is great, but as any graphic designer knows, a picture is easily worth a thousand words. You can meld that concept directly into your designs by featuring the content of your site more than the wordy elements. There are a myriad of ways to do this, but here are some important ones to add to your repertoire:

When you do use text, try to avoid any phrases that are specific to certain regions. This doesn’t mean you should use Basic English (though if your audience really is global, it’s not a bad idea) but keep in mind that not everyone will know what “in a coon’s age” means.

Also try to avoid any cultural symbols in your graphics. This means that, though Homer Simpson may have a lot to offer an American audience, your Estonian readers may not have a clue who he is. This prevents any cultural cues from being added to your design, and can even create a culture wall between you and your viewers.

Unify Your Code With Unicode

Using Unicode character-sets from the very beginning will ensure your site is compatible with the widest audience possible. The UTF-8 encoding is compliant with over 90 languages, and is a great place to start for a multicultural audience.

Finally, Do Your Homework

If you’re firm is expanding into Ecuador, take the time to get to know the Ecuadorian culture. No matter where you’re headed, doing a little research ahead of time will help you finalize and complete your project. As with any design, knowing your audience in detail is always the first step.

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