Does Culture Influence the Website Design of Schools? A Cross-cultural Comparative Study in the Indian, Chinese and American Context

 -Global Business Review

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 investigated. 

 

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 values.

 

Typically, websites from countries high on individualistic values would have more individualistic cultural markers on websites such as a privacy statement, privacy policy and how personal information will be protected or 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.

 

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