How to build a localised chinese website
The most important factor for any Western business looking to promote their company in China is the creation of a localised Chinese website, that will appeal to customers in China. This is achieved through what could be considered Chinese website design by carefully matching literary attributes and stylistic elements to those found on other Chinese websites.
Developing your own localised Chinese website has great potential for your business. Here’s how you do it.
When designing your site, bear in mind major sites in China to the Westerner, they look complicated and text-heavy, but this is how the Chinese like their websites. Western websites tend to gravitate towards simple designs and graphic description, with light text frequently broken up by headings and empty space. Chinese website designs have traditionally been the opposite – few images, and lots of text packed with relevant links.
This is slowly changing thanks to a new design concept comprising full screen scroll-down images. While this is a new innovation, the internet landscape in China is gradually changing, as is the user experience(e.g. liulanqi.baidu.com and ie.sogou.com). A combination of the traditional text-focussed designs, and the latest in image incorporation is the way forward. You might also take into consideration that your Western-style brand image can provide a good user experience for the Chinese audience .
Another design difference of Chinese websites is having many titles clustered on a page, all linking to different pages, which automatically open in new tabs. This is due to the generally slow speed of Chinese connections. Consumers in China are used to opening up new pages while they wait for the one they’re looking at to load.
Issues of speed are also the reason for a reliance on text, rather than images. While customers in the West would be easily bored by large chunks of text, to China, it is indicative of a content-rich website. It’s faster to load than one heavy with images and, for the Chinese, the mark of a credible site.
China’s version of Google is Baidu, and much like its Western counterpart, SEO is essential to a good Baidu ranking. Despite being similar to Google and just as popular in China, the mechanisms of Baidu SEO are quite different. Optimising your Chinese website using the same tactics and techniques you would use on your Western site won’t get you very far. Fortunately, Market Me China is at hand to provide bespoke Baidu SEO strategy packages, specifically tailored to your business.
Your content can’t simply be a Chinese version of that which appears on your Western website. It needs to be tailored to the local market, with appropriate social and cultural references and realities for the Chinese population.
Whether you use traditional Chinese or simplified language is dependent on your target audience. Do some market research and discover which form of Chinese your ideal clients prefer, and what is usual in the specific region you are targeting. As an easy guideline, simplified Chinese is for Mainland China, while Traditional Chinese is for Hong Kong, Marco, and Taiwan.
According to CNNIC, by December 2016, China has around 731 million internet users, of which 695 million are mobile internet users. Check out our post on ‘Mobile marketing and the consumption of content in China‘ for more information about the importance of mobile internet in China.
Where possible, host your website on a local Chinese server, and obtain a ‘.cn’ domain name. If this isn’t possible, ensure your hosting server isn’t blocked in China – the Chinese internet is strictly controlled by the government. If you are hosting your website in China, be sure to get a Chinese business licence – it’s required.
Whoever your host server is, you need to consider censorship to ensure your website isn’t blocked on a national scale. Essentially, you cannot promote products, services, or ideas that are prohibited. The Chinese government have banned certain things, such as unauthorised political content and gambling.
If your website includes an e-commerce element, you need to be aware of the numerous payment options available in China. Popular choices include China UnionPay, Alipay, and WeChatPay. These are online payment platforms that connect to China’s major banks. They offer credit card payments, bank transfers etc.
Are you looking for expert advice on building a localised Chinese website? Get in touch, we’re happy to help.