Chinese internet culture is relatively young but is maturing with startling speed. In just a few years, Chinese web design has evolved greatly. However, English and Chinese websites are still substantially different, in more ways than just language. Chinese internet users like to browse through large amounts of information, both specific and related, available to them at once. Western internet users enjoy searching for what they are interested in. Without formats and functions that cater to the Chinese audience, many potential customers may leave the website, a severe waste of traffic. Customer habits and internet ecosystems unique in China heavily influence website designs and must be taken into consideration.
Western and Chinese web design do share some elements, for example, primary navigation options at the top of the page. However, Chinese websites tend to provide more options than Western websites. Menus offer general categories as well as shortcuts to popular specific topics. Secondly, for eCommerce websites which require more comprehensive structured navigation, although both Chinese and Western websites make use of collapsing submenus, Western submenus are typically organized vertically for further details while Chinese websites prefer it in horizontal rows. There is a similar preference when it comes to filters and attribute sorting settings – Chinese websites adopt horizontal design at the top of the page below the primary navigation bar, while Western websites favour sidebars, extending vertically down from left side of the page.
Example of primary navigation options in Chinese websites