Does Culture Influence the Website Design of Schools? A Cross-cultural Comparative Study in the Indian, Chinese and American Context
Decades of globalization have led website designers to focus more on
functionality and standardization catering to the global village. Do cultural
dimensions matter in website design?
In the current era, globalization is not just restricted to trade and
commerce but subsumes other important categories such as education. Although
there have been several scholastic works that examined the influence of culture
on the website design of commercial sites, there have been no comparative
studies on the role of culture and its influences on the websites of schools in
India the USA and China.
Most prominent developed and developing economies have international
schools with international course curriculum and content. High school sites are
used to reach out to their citizens and need to be culturally sensitive to have
a higher acceptance among the citizens. Lee
and Lin (2005) had empirically found that website design positively influences
overall customer satisfaction and perceived service quality. It is important
that the influence of culture on the website design of high school sites be
This article examines the influence of culture on the design and layout
of websites of schools. The methodology used for this study was website content
analysis. For cultural analysis, the dimensions defined by Hofstede (1980) were
used. This is because of the fact that the dimensions have been used and
validated by several scholastic works in the context of website design and
online shopping. Sampling was used for the study for a meaningful comparison
between the countries.
This study has sampled websites of schools from India, China and the USA
and conducted a comparative analysis to get a comprehensive understanding of
whether culture influences the website design of schools. The objectives of
this study are; first, to examine the cultural influences in the design of
schools from India, the USA and China and second, to examine whether a country
can be used as a surrogate for culture, that is, whether the schools are
adhering to their national cultural values or to a mosaic of global cultural
Typically, websites from countries high on individualistic values would
have more individualistic cultural markers on websites such as a privacy
used. They should also have an independence theme and images and themes that
depict self-reliance, self-recognition, etc.
In contrast, collectivist cultures emphasize community relations,
community policy, giving back to the community, social responsibility, etc.
They would also like to have clubs or chat rooms on the websites. The emphasis
is on family themes, teamwork, etc. China and India are both high on
collectivism and low on individualism as compared to the USA.