Designing usable localised websites: Differences between western and Arab cultures

Ali H. Al-Badi, Pam J. Mayhew

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper presents a case study from a western country (UK) and an Arab country (Oman) to extract the views of Web designers in both countries regarding web usability. Its purpose is to determine the most important issues that should be considered when designing for a particular culture. To obtain a deeper and more detailed knowledge on how designers work in each country, it necessitated that the researcher get closer to the designers environment. In such a way the researcher can enquire, observe and converse with them in an open-ended style of discussion. This can best be done through a case study in each of the two countries (Oman and UK). The specific aims of conducting these case studies in the two selected countries were to: 1) investigate the extent of the usage of the published usability guidelines and tools in the design of the user interface of a website; 2) Explore the differences and similarities in designing websites for each of the two cultures; 3) Discover whether they design for different cultures; if they do what considerations they take into account when designing for different cultures? and 4) Investigate whether the designers in both countries consider using Cultural User Interface (CUI) profile or something similar to capture the target culture preferences and expectations, and whether it would fit into the way they normally do business. The data collection instrument consisted questionnaire for the designers and in many cases, this was followed with an interview or an email to the surveyed design companies to clarify their responses. In addition to the questionnaire, the researcher made use of available documentation or archival data that could provide any help to the current research. The researcher also investigated the usability tools and guidelines used as well as other specific design tools which the company found helpful in designing usable websites. The main outcome of this study was that the designers in both countries believed that although the users share similar preferences and perceptions about many website usability issues, however, they differ in the importance they give to certain usability elements such as the adherence to local language, culture and religious beliefs. The results of this study proved that onesize- for-all is not the right approach for a successful website. It highlighted the need to consider the customers' cultural background and their real world experience.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event11th International Business Information Management Association Conference, IBIMA 2009 - Cairo, Egypt
Duration: Jan 4 2009Jan 6 2009


Other11th International Business Information Management Association Conference, IBIMA 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management


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