Everything I read about usability on western websites is mostly the opposite of what I'm told to do at my workplace in Japan.

For example : - make landing pages as crowded as possible - avoid share buttons on landing pages - put the form at the very bottom very far away from the fold etc.

Lots of examples here : http://lp-web.com/

So, my question is : where can I find reliable sources/studies about UI/UX in Japan?

Thanks in advance!

  • I've not come across anything that isn't anecdotal that supports your claim. Even the linked website isn't exactly authoritative. Doesn't mean you're wrong, I'm just not aware of ANY research that would support your findings - and if you're struggling to link support for your claims, it may not be a good question for this site. Jun 13, 2013 at 3:57
  • @DavidClarke I am not looking for researches that support my experience at my workplace, I'm looking for any reliable researches done in Japan (whatever the results tell).
    – majimekun
    Jun 13, 2013 at 4:42
  • Sorry, I wasn't clear - your question is based on something that isn't true. I was trying to (politely) ask you to source the basis of your experience with something objective. Jun 14, 2013 at 22:28

2 Answers 2


The best study that I am aware of was by Geert Hofstede on cross-cultural analysis, where he compared individual cultures and perceptions across thousands of professionals around the world. The result was that there were clear cultural differences between countries. But the most interesting thing was that the differences within countries were greater than the differences between countries.

I would expect there to be cultural issues in design (like red or white having different meanings), but the fundamental principles aren't culturally based. Good UX is based primarily on cognitive psychology and perception - which varies very little across cultures.

For the record, I have done some UX testing that included two Japanese women, and the results from them were no different from the results from the rest of the group. So although this is a small sample set, it adds weight to the idea that in its fundamentals, UX shouldn't change across cultures.

As a small experiment, I would suggest doing some ninja UX testing on two sites. One with a typical design that you are being asked to create, and one with good UX principles. Then come back and update your question with the results.

As an aside, Japanese culture is very traditional (high uncertainty avoidance) and one where you shouldn't question your boss. Given that designs that you have shown seem to be taken from the earlier days of the web, I would hazard a guess that people the designs haven't changed as much because people have kept to tradition and not challenged the way that their boss says it should be done.

  • Hello JohnGB, I'm working on a mobile app that'll go on a world-wide market. We currently discussing if we need different experience for different markets. Could you help me by sharing your test result with me, please?
    – MovyMatt
    May 24, 2017 at 13:57

This is an old question, but I'd like to share this anyway.


Random Wire has an insightful perspective on influencing factors behind Japan's internet.

A few highlights ...

Go on a safari around some of Japan’s most popular sites and here’s what you can expect to find (see Goo, Rakuten, Yomiuri, NicoNico, OKWave, @cosme, and more):

  • Dense tightly packed text
  • Tiny low-quality images
  • More columns than you can count
  • Bright clashing colours and flashing banners
  • Overuse of outdated technologies like Flash

. . .

Mobile Legacy – Japan was using their version of the mobile web on advanced flip phones long before the iPhone came along and in even larger numbers than had personal computers. Back then the screens were tiny and the way sites had to be designed to cram content into this small space has continued to influence the way things are now.

. . .

Urban Landscape – Walk around one of Tokyo’s main hubs like Shibuya and you’re constantly bombarded with bright neon advertisements, noisy pachinko parlours (game arcades), and crowds of rambunctious salary men or school kids. The same chaotic busyness of the streets seems to have spilled over to the web. Added to this, because physical space comes at a premium in Japan, none of it is wasted and the same goes for negative/white space on a webpage.

Current developments

Design Made In Japan documents some excellent work being done today.

  • I have a theory that early websites crammed everything above the fold because at that time (before the mouse wheel) most people didn't have a convenient way to scroll, and disliked being forced to scroll. Although I'm not sure my theory can still apply to China and Japan now. I have heard that people in those countries see whitespace as wasted space, and therefore unprofessional. May 3, 2021 at 11:05

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