Chinese Users’ Preference for Web Browser Icons

By Siu-Tsen Shen, Stephen Dominic Prior, Keun-Meau Chen and Te-Hua Fang.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper compares the perspicacity, appropriateness and preference of web browser icons from leading software providers with those of a culture-specific design. The history and future direction of web browsers is outlined, together with the implications for the future growth of Chinese internet users. China, with its rapidly expanding young netizens has now overtaken the USA in terms of the number of internet users (253 million) and we predict it will reach saturation (≈70% internet penetration rate) by 2012.

If correct, this will have a dramatic effect on the use of English as the ‘Lingua Franca’ of the Internet. This online study was conducted in Taiwan and involved 103 participants (mean age 21 years), who were given three sets of web browser icons to review, namely Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, Macintosh Safari 3.0, and culturally specific icons created using the Culture-Centred Design methodology. The findings of the study show that all three sets have generally high recognition rates, but that some icon functions (e.g. Go/Visit and Favourite) in all three sets have poor recognition rates and are considered inappropriate. Furthermore, some significant differences were found when we analysed the level of user experience amongst several icons.

Keywords: Web Browser Icons, Perspicacity, Chinese, Culturalisation, User Interface Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.115-128. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.587MB).

Dr. Siu-Tsen Shen

Assistant Professor, Multimedia Design, National Formosa University, Hu-Wei, Yun-Lin, Taiwan

Dr. Siu-Tsen Shen has studied widely, gaining her Masters degree in Industrial Design Research from the Design Academy of Eindhoven, and her PhD in Design from Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Multimedia Design at the National Formosa University, Taiwan. Her research interests lie in the areas of HCI, User-Centred Design, Cross-Cultural Research, User Interface Design, and Design Team Formation using Personality Type. She has taught on a number of different programmes including Introduction to Multimedia Design, Creative Thinking & Design Methods, Cognitive Psychology and Emerging Technology.

Dr. Stephen Dominic Prior

Principal Lecturer, Department of Product Design and Engineering , School of Engineering and Information Sciences, Middlesex University, London, UK

Dr. Stephen Prior gained a BEng Mechanical Engineering degree in 1987 and PhD in Rehabilitation Robotics from Middlesex University, London in 1993. He is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and Corporate Member of the IMechE. His research interests are in the areas of Mechatronics, Autonomous Unmanned Systems, Robotics and Design Education. He was project leader for the Ministry of Defence Grand Challenge i-Spy team in 2008.

Dr. Keun-Meau Chen

Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Design, National United University, Maioli, Taiwan

Kuen-Meau Chen is an Assistant Professor in Industrial Design at National United University, Taiwan. He received his M.S. degree in Industrial Design with honors from the National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Taiwan in 1997 and a PhD in Design from Department of Industrial and Commercial Design at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taiwan in 2008. His research interests include Multimedia Design, Shape Grammar, as well as User Interface Design, Virtual Reality and Computer aided Design.

Dr. Te-Hua Fang

Professor, Institute of Mechanical and Electromechanical, Engineering, National Formosa University, Hu-Wei, Taiwan

Dr. Te-Hua Fang is a full Professor within NFU specialising in nano design and fabrication techniques. He also has interests in systems design and interfaces for Chinese users. He graduated with a Masters degree and a PhD in Engineering from universities in Taiwan and holds research links with top universities in Germany and the UK.


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