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Reaching a Global Online Audience by Matthew McCool

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Online

Designing for the Web is similar to designing for print, with a few exceptions. First, the Web is a rich multimedia environment, which means audio and video may be used to engage the user. The web is also interactive, so online media may be a lot like talking with another person. And the Web is also nonlinear. Books are usually read from front to back, but this is nearly impossible to accomplish in an online environment. This section looks at online media through the lens of cultural values.

Interface

The graphical user interface (GUI) is a main component of online media because it provides the link between a user and the web site. Some people think of the interface as a purely aesthetic aspect because it's usually graphical, and may incorporate audio and video to encourage user interaction. Although an interface will probably use graphics and images, it's a mistake to think of it simply as a nonfunctional element. Rather, an effective graphical interface should pull a user within a site.

User-centered design is always important, but some of the adaptations we have to consider for the global user are often quite subtle. BMW India is a good example of how some companies are beginning to adapt their sites for the target user. The BMW India portal contains a link to corporate history in the bottom right corner, which is unusual for even BMW standards (http:// bmw.in/in/en/). Although including a link to corporate history seems insignificant, there's an important cultural reason ...

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