Asian Language Web Design
I have yet to face this in my development experience, but it’s certain to be on the horizon. Bob Aman had this to say about Asian-language websites
Most Chinese/Japanese/Korean websites I’ve seen lately tend to have unusually “busy” designs…I usually react with something more along the lines of, “Yuck, how do you guys read the text on a site like that?!” There’s obviously a lot of sites out there that people typically point to as examples of good web design, but the vast majority of such examples seem to use the latin alphabet.
His repulsion at the design of many asian-language sites might be the sheer fact that the language itself is seen by his brain as a visual element.
That is, you don’t see it as text, because you can’t interpret it. Even though you might not speak Spanish or French (if you do, just play along) you still know the letters, while the characters of many Asian languages are completely outside your linguistic perception.
Therefore, you perceive them as visual elements, then you deconstruct the page into having a ton of visual elements. This leads to your conclusion of it being “busy” or “cluttered.” I would suggest that you might find the same issue on Arabic language sites as well.
For examples, you might try any of the large consumer sites in their Japanese or Korean incarnations like Sony Korea or Sony Japan or Nike Japan or Nike Korea. Not that these are great designs, but it drives home the point.
What’s even more bewildering is how we might build these ideas into the web software which can change its interface language and presentation language “on the fly.” The challenges there are truly mind-boggling and by examining what the large companies have done, you’ll see that they purpose-build for every region and language. There’s wisdom in that, if not technical ease.