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Culture and Websites: Not Believing in Aaron Marcus's Dimensions of Culture and Global Web Design (24 Sep 2004)
Internationalization has become a very popular topic around web design. Designers are becoming more aware of the global scale of websites and are taking into account different language character sets, date formats and currencies. The more subtle effects of culture, however, are less evident. In an attempt to study these factors, Aaron Marcus and Emilie W. Gould (pdf) discuss how Hofstede's cultural dimensions of power-distance (PD), individual vs. collectivism (IC), masculinity vs. femininity (MAS) and uncertainty avoidance (UA) and long term vs. short term orientation (LTO) may apply to global web sites.

As an exercise, I looked at several corporate and consumer websites that might illustrate - or perhaps contradict - the patterns Marcus and Gould described.

The first pattern I discovered was a distinct lack of companies who even had widely varying sites for each region. Most companies had standardized around a central site. In the case of Amazon, sites were structurally equivalent whilst products sold may vary. Nike separated their sites by language but they maintained the same aesthetics for each (Figure 1).
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