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Design Considerations When Localizing Your Ecommerce Site

Posted by Origins Ecommerce - January 23, 2015 in ,

Localization means adapting your website or checkout process to different markets worldwide so that it appears native to a user in every way. This post on design aspects for localization is the third of a four part series on the importance of localization when growing your business globally online. 

This is part 3 in our four-part series on how to globalize your ecommerce business. If you missed the others you can find them here:


Localizing your website and cart to fit with your international customers’ preferences is vital to grow your global footprint. While currency and language are obvious elements that need to adjust depending on where your customers are, the actual design of your webpage and cart can also have a significant impact on the connection your customers feel to your brand and their willingness to buy your product.

From text form layouts to stock images, there are several important functional and aesthetical aspects that should be tailored to appeal to people of different geographic areas and cultures. Here are some of the most important aspects that, if localized, can help prevent confusion for and cart abandonment by international shoppers at checkout.


With pen translating to Kugelschreiber and speed limit being Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung in German, it’s no surprise that your website template should allow form fields to adapt to different language lengths and directions. In fact, English text can expand 150% or more when translated into some European languages. Accommodating for characters beyond those used in Western languages will also help to eliminate form glitches and increase customer confidence with their buying decision.

Other considerations when building your website includes how international customers format dates, time, addresses and phone numbers. Differentiating whether each locale arranges by day-month-year or month-day-year may seem minor, but will make the checkout process easier for your customers. Taking into account variations in addresses will also eliminate the frustration associated with customers being turned away because a form doesn’t recognize their address.


Considering how your international customers will be searching your checkout page for information is another critical element of an effectively localized website. Western shoppers tend to scan pages in an F-shape pattern, from left to right, focusing heavily on the left side of the page. Alternatively, Arabic countries read information from right to left and may find it difficult to follow a website whose design does not account for this.

To ensure your checkout page is user-friendly, consider installing a horizontal navigation bar rather than a vertical one. If you have already implemented a vertical navigation bar, take the time to recreate pages where the bar should be inverted. This will eliminate confusion for customers whose navigation style differs from Western norms. Designing symmetrical webpages will also help to ensure your page looks clean when localized for each geographic area. By aiming to create symmetry on your checkout page, there will be minimal design alterations if the script needs to be flipped for certain international customers.

Ultimately, you need to understand how your site needs to respond to your customers’ cultural behavior and adjust accordingly. For example, Amazon was able to determine through market research that their Chinese shoppers preferred to browse products side by side using multiple windows, rather than navigating back and forth and designed their localized Chinese site accordingly.


 Aesthetically-pleasing design elements, such as pictures and eye-catching color, are some of the most immediate influencers in making customers more comfortable on a website. In fact, people react stronger when a human element is involved so try to incorporate pictures of people who relate to your target audience. This means that stock images or custom photos should be changed to remain locally relevant.

While it is necessary to remain consistent with your brand logo and the colors associated with it, keep in mind that most colors have different connotations depending on country and culture. This relates directly to your cart design, along with other aspects of the checkout process that utilize colors to attract customers’ attention.

While in North America the color green is often used as a call-to-action because of its association with moving forward, this color could detract customers purchasing from Latin American countries where the shade symbolizes death. Red, often representative of excitement, power and love in Western cultures, represents danger, caution and evil in the Middle East. Thus, simply localizing the color of your “Buy Now” button can subtly reassure international customer to complete a purchase.

Bottom Line: Design Considerations are Essential for a Localized Cart

Having a checkout that does not account for text translations, layout changes, interchangeable pictures and color schemes could be the component that is leading customers to abandon your cart. It is becoming increasingly evident that more people are expecting localized website features when shopping online. While aspects such as language, payment methods and currency are vital in making your checkout process seamless for international customers, you must avoid underestimating the design element. Research where your consumers are from and shape your site’s design to make allowances for each target market’s expectations.

5 Essential Components for Attracting International Customers 5 Essential Components for Attracting International Customers Image Map

About the Author

Origins Ecommerce

We love sharing our expertise in online payments and helping our customers succeed. From the technical team to our customer service team, everyone at Origins Ecommerce is ready to support your success. Our goal is to reduce your expenses and risks while optimizing your revenue, by managing your online payments for you. The Origins Ecommerce payment solution is there to keep your payments in motion, so you don’t have to.
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