Posted from: South Carolina
If you’ve ever spent any time in a foreign grocery store, you may have noticed that design trends differ heavily from culture to culture. Packaging that says “nomnomnom” to an elderly Japanese woman says “dear god is that a cuttlefish with cartoon eyes?” to you. In terms of web design preference, the Chinese tend towards very busy portal-style page content, flashing ads, tiny text, photorealistic will-o-the-wisp-y light effects, auto-loading music and lots and lots and lots and lots of Flash.
I’ve heard this written off as the result of an “underdeveloped” web usability industry, but that strikes me as an obtuse and over-simplistic explanation. The fact is that the Asian print marketing, package design and MMORPG industries have largely driven China’s visual web aesthetic, and the Chinese have very different taste in terms of what represents both corporate and alternative design.
That being the case, Flash is alive and well in China, with many clients demanding full Flash sites, but the current Western trend towards jQuery as a Flash replacement has started making very small inroads. I’ve put together a small showing of some Flash-based and non-Flash-based Chinese websites with interesting design. So mute your speakers, prepare to see a loading bar or five, and enjoy.
1. Beijing Design Week
Beijing Design Week is a, and I quote, “a government-supported, citywide initiative that aims to become a mechanism and catalyst for raising the level of design and design awareness in China—while strengthening creative, commercial and governmental ties between China and the rest of the world. “. I love this layout, as you almost never see this kind of sans-serif bold slab text in Chinese web design, and the Swiss-inspired blue/black color scheme is particularly rare.
2. BianGe Design Studio
Based in ZheJiang, BianGe design studio does a sweet portfolio site. BianGe, whose company name is a politically-charged word meaning “change”, themed their website with pink-on-grey Maoist graphics and an ultra-skinny content area.
3. Doopaa – Upon
Doopaa is another design agency that does some really gorgeous stuff with Flash. Their tagline, “Very Chinese, yet very international”, is perfect for their audience. This showpiece site Upon is themed with animated traditional Chinese papercuts.
4. Energysource Christmas Card Mini-Site
I know, I know, ’tis not the season, but Energysource’s Flash-based “Merry Christmas” client site is really not to be missed. Inexplicable crotch-grabbing, moonwalking Santas, paper 3D dinosaurs, and some awesome Engrish (watch the teeny text at the very bottom).
5. Duge Courtyard
6. Kevin Woo Designs
This minimalist-focused design firm does an awesome job presenting images and content, mixed with just enough scripting to make the site interesting.
7. Dying Art (Noir’s Lab)
This designer is pretty amazing (if you dig around, you can find his work portfolio) – maybe that’s why he’s been hired by a bunch of major international brands to do mini-sites and renderings. Yet despite all the fame and (presumably) fortune, he seems mostly interested in creating trippy 3D pixel dreamscapes.
Super clean, photo-driven magazine site by Roodo.