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Confusing Chinese Websites


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I find Chinese websites full of text, pictures and flashing things.


I find it very bewildering and confusing to try and find anything.


Is it just me and my poor level of Chinese or is there difference between the way East and West layout webpages. There seems to me to be different ideas about the style and design of websites.


What does everyone think? Is it me or is there a difference?


Don't worry I can take it on the chin :) If its me don't be afraid to say so :)


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There's a difference. Chinese websites tend to be really annoying. Every link tends to open a new window and adds tend to be really intrusive. To me Chinese websites tend to be like the early www. No need to know Chinese to come to this conclusion.

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Shelly, I understand how you feel but in my opinion, this probably can’t be attributed to cultural differences.


If you compare the website of 中國鐵路客戶服務中心 and that of 台鐵, you will see the difference (keep in mind that the Mainland and Taiwan share largely the same culture).


The former one was so shoddily made that the railway authority of the Mainland was bombarded with complaints and criticisms from the public. This led to a new version, which was launched about one or two years ago. While it might be an improvement upon the old one, still it is not great, if not bad.


Typically, the worst websites are those of the below-central level governments/government departments, and some organisations backed by the government including some colleges and universities. For such website owners, user experience is of little importance; they don’t care whether you use it or not, nor are they affected by how you rate their websites. Propaganda garbage takes up a large share of the content on these websites. Some of them can remain static for years or have numerous hyperlinks that do not work.


The websites of many small to medium-sized companies are not good either. Very likely, this is because their owners have not yet fully realised the importance of being nice-looking and user-friendly.


PS: I wonder which website can be uglier than that of 中國鐵路客戶服務中心.


Also compare the websites of 山東省政府 and 香港政府.

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Chinese websites tend to be really annoying. Every link tends to open a new window and adds tend to be really intrusive.



I really hate that too, especially pop-up ads. I think that some website owners may be ill-advised to use such silly “flashy” features.

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I agree with you. I think partly there may be a cultural aspect to it, as web pages are loaded full of advertisements, information and lots of pictures which are a bit messy, and a lot of people don't mind. 


A number of Chinese people themselves have told me the general quality of websites in China is poor. I think this is partly due to the large amount of web developers and designers that are very low paid and work to very tight deadlines, so the general outcome is quite poor. There is an attitude of "well, the bar is quite low, so we don't need to bother trying to exceed it".  


I think the general placement of advertisements is quite bad - it is often far too much, and tends to dominate the web page you are on. Government websites and universities tend to be the worse - I think in a western context we are used to most important organisations hosting lots of important information on their website, which saves us the burden of having to look further or contact them directly. This aspect of the internet has not fully saturated China yet. 

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What's all this negativity.


The way to answer this question is to see websites designed by rich native chinese business when they are in the west. i.e.. When they are surrounded by talent and so therefore taste is the only criteria:




So the answer is, there's a lot of people who like the Chinese websites just the way they are...

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Thanks for all your opinions and links to some fabulously "flashy" websites.


For me LingsCars shows me that it probably is a cultural thing because its a Chinese website in UK with all the crazy things that I find make it hard to navigate, but this is only my opinion.


There are probably some very well presented Chinese websites out there but the vast majority of the ones I have visited are like Lingscars.


One thing has to be said Lingscars are getting some free exposure :)


I wasn't trying to be negative, just interested if there was cultural differences between web design.


I think things like orange text on a pink background is just plain bad design no matter where its done.


If any one comes across any well designed sites it would be nice to see them too.

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The state of the web ecosystem in China can probably be described as "emerging".  


Top tier commercial sites like weibo.com or youku.com are pretty well done with pretty clean design and layout, advanced use of web features, etc.

These folk also produce reasonably nice desktop or mobile apps.   They are not afraid to use white space and consistent design.

But their entire business relies upon it


Some of the top news sites are OK and reasonably clean, and some official sites like ebeijing.com.cn site is pretty good, but still feel a little old at times.   

Taobao itself is OK, and tmall is quite good, but the smaller merchants sites inside taobao look like myspace used to look - everybody's site looked like a mad woman's breakfast (means: 乱七八糟).


When you get down to medium/small business, or education/government, websites are not really seen as an important information/marketing channel and are often viewed as a pure cost to the business (that was my experience talking to customers in Malaysia 10 years ago too - they were struggling with rising traffic on the website and getting in trouble for it, were not interested in any project which would increase traffic or page views or time spent on site).


If web designers are lowly paid employees in the IT department any "less is more" and "design around what visitors want to do" discussion with management can take a long time to mature and really needs to be rooted in KPIs - page view, time on site, customer conversations, site ranking, etc.  This requires analytics software, instrumentation of the site, careful design and even for large companies needs to be a big effort from the top leadership down to re-orient the company relationship with customers.  

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Actually, Chinese websites are continuously improving. It's quite hard to be critical when so many people are so frequently cut off from the rest of the internet.


I found a very clean Chinese news reader for mac yesterday, called 知了. It is leagues behind  Zite for functionality, but it's still a push in the right direction. It's on the app store, if you want to try it out.

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That article on Japanese web design really makes sense. Pretty much sums it up for me.


I suppose I feel garish websites clash with the exquisite architecture, painting, pottery, and all the other beautiful works of art and calligraphy, poetry and embroidery etc. that has been done for centuries with great style and sensitivity.


Lets hope they catch up with their web design. i suppose it is also dependent on want people want to see. So lets hope the Chinese eye for style and good design come through eventually.

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Interesting, it looks a lot like what the web in the US would look like if it were designed for people with severe ADHD and insufficient treatment.


I suspect that this is cultural and that it's a continuation of the generally loud advertising and culture in general. I was living with an Englishman for a while that had been to like 50 countries and China was the loudest one he'd ever been to. I know that until I moved to a school where I was living at the back away from the roads that I didn't receive a single night of sleep where I wasn't woken up at least a couple of times by people honking or yelling.


I think that until and unless the Chinese people themselves refuse to buy anything or visit sites where it's that obnoxious, web developers will keep doing that.

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Many Taiwanese websites were developed back when IE was the only web browser available since most people were running Windows. At the bottom of the 臺鐵 website (http://twtraffic.tra.gov.tw/twrail/) you'll see

【建議使用IE7.0 以上瀏覽器,最佳瀏覽解析度為 1024*768】

which means that they suggest to use a browser of IE 7.0 or above, and the website is best at a resolution of 1024 by 768. I think this shows up on most government websites. I've found that some really do need IE to work.

A lot has changed since then, and non-government websites are getting better and better. Sometimes I'll see people on BBS wonder if anyone uses IE anymore - at least younger people are using Firefox and Chrome. Just a comparison between government and non-government (and old and new) websites:

The much maligned MOE dictionary (copyright 1994!) at http://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw

The wonderful 萌典 at https://www.moedict.tw/ where g0v (http://g0v.tw/) took all those confusing MOE websites and made it useful.

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