Japanese Websites: A Global Phenomenon in the Digital Realm

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Have you ever accessed a Japanese website before? We have had a lot of experience working with Japanese people in website development. After so many years of operating in the Japanese market, we have found that Japanese websites have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from their Western counterparts. There are many examples of sites with a more minimalistic and easy-to-navigate design for someone used to Western websites. However, walls of text, lavish use of bright colors, and more than 10 different fonts are some typical characteristics we must see if we access Japanese websites. This article will explore why Japanese web development looks so different and then gain insights into the broader interplay between culture, technology, and design in the digital world.

There are several elements that we can analyze why Japanese websites have outstanding design:

  • Cultural Influence
  • Technological Development and Historical Context
  • Slow Development of Fonts and Front-End Website 

Let’s begin with the first element!

Cultural Influence

Aesthetics and Simplicity

Japanese culture places great emphasis on aesthetics and minimalism. Principles such as “wabi-sabi” (embracing imperfection and transience) and “ma” (the concept of space and silence) greatly influence Japanese design, including web design. Japanese websites often reflect these principles by employing clean, uncluttered layouts, ample white space, and a focus on simplicity.

Meibutsu Choice Japanese Website

Meibutsu Choice – an online shopping site that delivers products painstakingly made by store owners and businesses

>> Related: Single-Page Application (SPA): Pros and Cons in Web Development

Visual Storytelling

Japanese culture has a long tradition of visual storytelling, evident in art forms like manga and ukiyo-e prints. This influence can be observed in web design, where vibrant and expressive visuals often take center stage. Japanese websites often use captivating images, bold typography, and animated elements to engage visitors and convey narratives.

Meibutsu Choice Menu - Japanese Website

Meibutsu Choice – an online shopping site that delivers products painstakingly made by store owners and businesses

Technological Development & Historical Context

According to Reddit, “Japan, living in the year 2000 since 1985.” Japan’s adoption of the Internet came relatively late compared to the West, with its widespread use taking off in the late 1990s. This delay allowed Japanese web designers to observe and learn from other countries’ early web design trends while incorporating their unique approach.

If you have an interest in Japan, you may be familiar with the contrasting mix of cutting-edge and outdated technology found in many places. Japan, known for its advancements in robotics and the impressive life-sized Gundam statue on Odaiba’s artificial island, also paradoxically relies on outdated technology like floppy disks and fax machines. The country experienced panic when faced with the shutdown of Windows Explorer in 2022.

FIAN - Flower Shop Website

FIAN – an original artificial flower brand

Technological literacy in Japan has been significantly delayed, suggesting that these issues have also hindered the progress of Japanese website design. Specifically, Japanese web design struggles in this regard. A simple Google or Pinterest search for Japanese poster design reveals a distinctly different and contemporary approach to graphic design.

>> Related: I Bet You Don’t Know This Top 7 UI/UX Design Trends In 2024

Slow Development of Fonts and Front-End Website

Overview, while creating a new font for Romanized languages can be an interesting challenge for people who have a basic understanding of typography, the Japanese language poses specific challenges for web design due to its complex writing system, which includes three scripts: kanji, hiragana, and katakana. 

In detail, to create a font from scratch in English, you will need about 230 glyphs – a glyph is a unique representation of a particular letter (“A, a” counts as 3 glyphs) – or 840 glyphs if you want to include all Latin-based languages. For Japanese, due to the three different writing systems and the vast number of Kanji, you will easily see 7,000 – 16,000 glyphs or more. Therefore, creating a new Japanese font requires both the effort of an organized team and more time than Latin fonts.

As a result, creating a Japanese font is a complex and time-consuming process. Therefore, web developers may need help upgrading fonts to support new features or new user requirements. In addition, Japanese fonts do not support uppercase letters. So web developers must carefully consider and search through font libraries to choose how to present the font to still attract the attention of website visitors.

For example, let’s take a look at Burger King’s Japan and American websites:

Burger King Website in Japan and American

We can understand why many Japanese websites tend to display content categories with text-heavy images. Sometimes, you will even see each square use its font, especially when it is a limited-time offer.

Conclusion

To conclude, the distinctive appearance of Japanese websites is a product of multiple influences. In their pursuit of simplicity, visual storytelling, and mobile optimization, Japanese web designers have crafted a unique visual language that continues to captivate and surprise visitors. By understanding the underlying cultural and historical influences, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry and innovation present in Japanese web design.

At AMELA, we provide one-stop services, bringing your software ideas to life with our web development service. Unleash the limitless power of web development and unlock your business’s true potential with us!

Contact us through the following information:

  • Hotline: (+84)904026070
  • Email: hello@amela.tech
  • Address: 5th Floor, Tower A, Keangnam Building, Urban Area new E6 Cau Giay, Pham Hung, Me Tri, Nam Tu Liem, Hanoi

Editor: AMELA Technology

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