On Cultural Differences in Local Web Interfaces

In the light of the existing literature on the issue of cross-cultural interface design, we carried out a small- scale study in order to check whether we could find cultural differences in local web sites. First, the experiment was conducted for university web sites. Our hypotheses with regard to cross-cultural variation were based on the well-known theory of Hofstede [6]. Contrary to Hofstede’s theory and findings, very little evidence of cultural differences in the interfaces of the web sites was reported. Subsequently, an online survey was conducted among webmasters of university web sites in an attempt to provide preliminary explanations for the findings. Because the results of the experiment were inconsistent with other previous research findings, we decided to repeat the experiment for a different type of web sites: newspaper web sites. This experiment confirmed the first results. Although the experiments done were on a small scale and had several limitations, the results already give an indication that Hofstede’s theory may not be applicable as such for web sites. Furthermore, it seems that the Web has developed its own culture, a hybrid cosmopolitan culture overriding traditional cultural differences.
Publication Reference
De Troyer, O., Mushtaha, A. , Stengers H., Baetens M., Boers F., Casteleyn, S., Plessers, P.: "On Cultural Differences in Local Web Interfaces", Journal of Web Engineering, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 246 - 265, Publ. Rinton Press (2006)