Web Design – The Difference Between Western and Chinese

The digital landscape is being embraced in China like nowhere else as they increasingly welcome the New Retail environment, spending much of their day on-line.

For western companies wanting to do business with the Chinese community it’s crucial to understand the different between Western and Chinese web design as they are vastly different in many aspects. There are formats and functions that are unique to the Chinese community and if websites do not have these specific details catering to the Chinese audience many potential customers could be lost.



While both prefer menus at the top of the page, there are more options on Chinese websites with both general categories plus shortcuts to popular topics.

More comprehensive and structured navigation is required on ecommerce sites with Western sites typically organising sub-menus vertically while Chinese sites prefer them in horizontal rows.

The same applies with filters and attribute sorting settings too, with Chinese sites preferring the same horizontal rows at the top of the page instead of side bars going vertically down the left side, as favoured by Western sites.

Chinese Website Example: Primary Navigation

Western Website Example: Primary Navigation

Chinese Website Example: Filters and Attribute Options

Structure of Content

The page space in Chinese websites tends to be utilized fully however, Western sites prefer to use much more whitespace with graphics (call to actions) to direct attention around the site.

Western users are able to scan quickly due to large page partitions which are sorted categorically, while Chinese users sort through broader categories that have been organised into small blocks, before deciding what information to look into in more detail.

Chinese Website Example: Smaller, Block Portions

Page Length

The pages on Chinese sites are typically shorter in length, usually around 2 screen lengths or less, and are topic specific.

Western sites are organised in such a way (eg: vertical menus) that longer pages are required.


Bright colours are favoured among Chinese internet users who prefer to see sites that are lively with lots of information. Also, key details are highlighted in different colours to stand out in amongst content that is heavy with text and complex Chinese characters.

By comparison, Western sites have a more minimalistic look with content surrounded with more whitespace.



Many diverse promotions are able to be offered on Chinese websites that have transaction options available with the most popular being;

  • Deals of the day
  • Limited time only items
  • Flash sales
  • Group purchases
  • Customer loyalty programs also offer prizes for frequent business or redeemable company points for rewards

In this way, users continually return to the site to check for sales that might interest them, which creates additional conversions and enhances brand image.

New Windows

Chinese users are able to easily compare information as links open in different pages, unlike Western sites where links are opened in the same window with users having to click back through the pages viewed.

QR Codes

QR codes are used in Chinese websites allowing users to quickly and easily interface with mobile devices in order to achieve various objectives such as;

  • Being able to make quick payments through online payment accounts
  • Allowing quick logins to a company’s social account, encouraging users to follow the account
  • Offering easy ways for users to download mobile apps which drives app download

Online Chatting

Chinese users prefer live chat options over social media networking and direct email services typically offered by Western users as they prefer to receive information quickly.


Search Engines

Sites need to be designed so they are friendly to local search engines such as Baidu, Sogou and Shenma, as Google is not available in mainland China. This will enable the site to build up authority more effectively as it will be indexed properly.

There are also some crucial elements of Chinese search engines that foreign digital markets need to adapt to such as;

  • Sites are preferred in Chinese language
  • It is preferred that Chinese sites with ICP licences are hosted locally
  • Local resources (eg: inbound link) and social resources are preferred

Social Media

Many Western platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are not available in China. This is due to the Great Firewall which regulates China’s domestic internet, blocking access to some foreign websites and slowing down cross-border internet traffic.

WeChat and Weibo are the two largest Chinese social media platforms and businesses wishing to promote to the Chinese community should look at using these platforms.

Online Payment

Similar to PayPal, Chinese companies use Alipay and Tenpay which are the two most popular online payment systems in China. Users are able to pay with debit cards, credit cards or their “wallets”.

Local Host

Hosting outside of China can cause a poor user experience due to slow and unstable download speeds and problems being found by Chinese search engines.

China Social Solutions is a Melbourne-based leading digital performance marketing agency. Specialising in Chinese social media, its team of experts have unrivalled experience in the AU-China market. Connect with us for enquiries, world-class Chinese marketing solutions and everything in between. www.chinasocialsolutions.com or 1300 469 667.