I design enterprise web apps in the US, and am looking to take on a New Zealand client. At first glance, the UI/UX tendencies of the New Zealand web space appears to be very similar if not identical to US design standards. Has anyone worked both regions, and noticed a variation in design tendencies?


  • differences between what is good web design even in East Asia vs. Europe tend to be relatively small (they are there, but a lot of stuff holds true). So for two anglophone very similarly cultured countries I'd imagine there isn't really much difference at all except for a lack of need for Spanish in NZ. – the other one Jan 13 '15 at 16:30
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    Remember that you need to design the site upside down if you are shipping it to NZ so that it's upside right when it gets there. – DA01 Jan 13 '15 at 16:52

I have not worked in the New Zealand market, so I can not speak specifically to that context, but I will include a few notes on the core principle that you are attempting to overcome -- Localization.

Aspects of localization include technical aspects of the local market, making the product behave appropriately in the national market, and addressing specific cultural values and conventions.

I can speak a little to the technical aspect, specific to New Zealand -- observing the following during a 1-month trip to NZ a few years ago. Internet is NZ is not as prolific as it is in the US, and WiFi is almost never free. Every city has at least one Internet cafe, and they always have people in them. Unlike the US, where Internet cafes died out before most people knew what they were, they are an important part of the NZ Internet infrastructure.

That means people have intent. Unless you're at home (in NZ) you are almost certainly paying more for the ability to log onto the Internet. If you're a tourist (like we were) you are absolutely paying for Internet. That gave us intent! When you're paying by the minute you want to get in and get our as quickly as possible.

Depending on the customer target for your product site, a more focused experience may be preferred. When we needed to log on in NZ we thought about our plan of action first. There was no clicking around for clicking's sake.

To more general points of consideration when working to localize to a particular market:

Do images and slogans used work in each country? Many marketing translation mistakes have resulted from this.

Colors are very important. Red is often associated with more angry/negative feelings in the USA, but is seen as good luck in China.

Users find different things acceptable in terms of cultural variances and expectations. Different cultures may have differences in how they execute tasks, altering your task design. Similarly, does navigation structure work across cultures?

While not as specific to this case, language and reading direction should be considered when dealing with an overall localization. Actually, perhaps your client might want to expand into a global market -- making this very important!

Lots of little details...

  • Dates are commonly MM/DD/YYYY in the US; DD/MM/YYYY in NZ
  • Imperial vs metric systems
  • Monetary format
  • Time formats

Engaging with the NZ client and asking the appropriate questions on how to best cater to their customer base could be to your advantage. They know you're not local, but you're asking the right questions to give them the best product but focusing your attention on their users (instead of the users you normally deal with).

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  • Evil Closet Monkey - Although you have never designed in NZ, this post is very helpful. I appreciate the time you have taken to write this up, and will be leveraging many of your suggestions in my NZ project. – Henry Jan 16 '15 at 16:17
  • Glad it was useful. Good luck with the project! – Evil Closet Monkey Jan 16 '15 at 16:21

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