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What are the characteristics of overseas website design? Explanation with comparison to Japan

In these days of globalization, many people are interested in creating websites not only for the Japanese market but also for overseas markets.

  • Marketers

  • Designers

  • Programmers

It is very important for these types of professionals to know about "characteristics of overseas websites.

In this article, we will explain the characteristics of overseas websites, comparing them with Japanese websites.

Differences between Japanese and Overseas Web Site Designs

In understanding the differences between Japanese and overseas website design, the following points are easy to understand.

  • Layout and amount of information

  • Use of visuals and colors

  • UI

  • Text design

  • Usability

Let's deepen our understanding of each of these points.

Layout and Amount of Information

In understanding foreign websites, the most obvious difference between Japanese and foreign websites is "layout and amount of information.

The differences between the two are summarized below.

Japan: Emphasis on the amount of information

  • Tendency to emphasize "amount of information

  • Users feel "kind" when they are provided with a lot of information

  • Layouts that allow users to access a large amount of information at once

Overseas: Emphasis on simplicity

  • Tend to emphasize "simplicity.

  • Excessive information is perceived as "noise

  • Layout that is simple and visually spacious

The "Apple" website is a good example of an overseas website layout and amount of information.

The amount of text is kept to a minimum, and the main focus is on product photos.

From a Japanese point of view, this layout may seem somewhat difficult to use, as it does not allow users to immediately learn the specific size, weight, and specifications of each product.

However, the advantage of this layout is that it makes it easier to convey the "product image" as a priority because of the amount of waste eliminated.

In summary, Japan values "information" while other countries value "image," so it is necessary to build a website with this difference in mind.

Use of Visuals and Color

Next, we will discuss the use of visuals and colors.

Japan: Use of vivid colors

  • Colorful and vivid colors are preferred.

  • Advertisements and banners are emphasized with vivid colors.

Overseas: Subdued use of color

  • Subdued colors are preferred.

  • Emphasis on concept colors and brand colors

In Japan, colorful and vivid colors are preferred, and this tendency is particularly noticeable in advertisements and banners that are designed to attract the eye.

Overseas, on the other hand, conceptual elements such as "concept" and "brand image" are more important, and people tend to feel a sense of unity across the entire website.

The use of color tends to be based on achromatic colors such as white and black, giving the impression of simplicity and minimalism.


The following is a summary of the differences between Japan and other countries in terms of "UI," which is essential for building a website.

Japan: Multi-layered structure for easy access to information

  • Heavy use of sub-menus and drop-downs

  • Multi-layered structure for easier access to more information

Overseas: Simple and intuitive to use

  • Menus are kept to a minimum for simplicity.

  • Easy to get to the desired information without getting lost

Because of the large amount of information that exists on Japanese websites, it is inevitable that menus and navigation must have a hierarchical structure.

While the ability to access a large amount of information in a comprehensive manner is an advantage, there are times when visitors can get lost while navigating through a website.

On the other hand, since foreign websites have less text-based information, the menu should be minimal and simple in structure.

This prevents users from getting lost, but may lack the volume of information, so it is advisable to take measures such as "creating pages dedicated to conveying information.

Text and Fonts

Next, we will discuss differences in the way of thinking about text and fonts.

For the sake of convenience, we will discuss overseas websites in "English".

Japan: Detailed explanations using text

  • Provide detailed explanations using text-based information.

  • Small font size.

Overseas: Minimal and large text.

  • Text plays a supporting role in conveying images.

  • Font size should be large.

The basis of this concept of "text" is the linguistic difference between Japanese and English.

Japanese has Kanji characters and is flexible in the way it creates sentences (it has a high degree of freedom in the positioning of subjects and predicates), making it suitable for text-based explanations.

On the other hand, English is linguistically bounded, and text-based explanations tend to be redundant, so text is positioned as a "supporting role for conveying an image.


Lastly, we will explain the difference between the Japanese and foreign approaches to usability.

Japan: closed-minded and information-intensive

  • Overseas NG tends to be

  • The entire site tends to be heavy because it is crammed with information.

  • It is OK even if it is heavy because of the Internet environment.

Overseas: open and has a wide trade area

  • Multi-language OK and support a variety of payment methods

  • The entire site can be designed to be lightweight

  • Can be connected even if the Internet environment is fragile

In recent years, there have been calls for the weakening of the Japanese economy, yet it still ranks among the top in the world.

In other words, while business targeting only Japanese people is still viable in Japan, this is not the case overseas.

In many countries, it is not possible to achieve the desired profits unless the business sphere is directed outside of Japan, and if the official language is English, it is possible to consider the entire English-speaking world as a business sphere.

Therefore, in some cases, the entire site and pages are designed to be lightweight in order to support a variety of payment methods and to be easily accessible even in areas without an Internet environment.

Since many open websites are less secure than Japanese websites, it is advisable to aim for usability that takes advantage of the best of both Japan and foreign countries.

How to access overseas websites safely

If you are interested in foreign websites, some of you may actually want to access them.

However, accessing foreign websites can be a bit intimidating, and you may not be able to access them in the first place.

Therefore, we will now explain how to access overseas websites safely from within Japan.

In conclusion, there are three ways to access overseas websites from Japan.

  • Using a VPN

  • Using a tool

  • Use browser extensions

Of these, the safest way to access a website is to "use a VPN.

VPN allows you to safely avoid access restrictions.

Devices such as Wi-Fi, smartphones, and PCs that we use casually in our daily lives are assigned an identification number called an "IP address.

This IP address includes a "global IP address," a number assigned to each country, which can be used to restrict access from overseas.

Therefore, when accessing an overseas website from within Japan, it is necessary to safely circumvent this access restriction.

VPN is a way to get around these restrictions, and an overview is provided below.

  • Securely access foreign websites

  • Free version available, but paid versions are more reliable

  • Different countries can be accessed depending on the VPN you use

Free VPN services are available, but paid services are recommended for greater security.

In addition, the countries that can be accessed vary depending on the VPN service you use, so you are required to check in advance.

By using a VPN, you can freely and securely access foreign websites while in Japan, which is useful for marketing and website design.

There are some ways to use tools and extensions, but they have noticeable disadvantages such as time limitations and low security, so it is better to use a VPN.


In today's globalized world, websites also need to look overseas.

Referring to the differences in design and usability from Japan introduced in this article, update your thinking and knowledge of websites for overseas markets.

In addition, there is a possibility that opportunities to access overseas websites from within Japan will increase in the future.

In that case, we recommend that you use a VPN to access them safely.

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