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So you want to design for a global audience? Here is what you need to consider.

Megan was facing a problem.

As Senior Director of Design at 99designs by Vista, she had a budget to find a designer to come to Australia to help with design. “Great!” she thought. What an amazing opportunity to be able to offer someone.

Megan assumed designers would jump at the chance of a sponsored visit to Australia, but surprisingly, she found this wasn’t the case. The position was much harder to fill than it seemed.

You might be asking why, and the boils down to this;

The process was not designed for a global audience

The process of taking on this new hire wasn’t well thought out for people from outside Australia, so when Megan was going through the motions, she was finding people were unable to commit for a whole host of reasons, for example, candidates didn’t have passports, they were single parents who were unable to spend time away from their children and the salary was too low for people in some countries.

This got Megan thinking, perhaps the business needed to look at the way in which it was designing in all areas, to help appeal to a global market and get better results for its customers.

Throughout the talk, Megan urges us to start using the terminology ‘Localisation’.

Localisation is the procedure of customizing tangible goods, services, advertisements, or other materials for a particular market. Although the term is frequently mistaken for translation, it actually accomplishes much more. Localisation calls for adaptation to all of the elements that constitute a particular demographic, including time zones, national holidays, product beliefs, and cultural references. The ultimate aim? to make the material appear and feel as though it were made especially for each of your target markets.

Creating with a global community in mind means that when it comes to design, designers need to take into account the following:


In addition to translating text from one language to another, designers need to recognise the cultural appropriation of some words and terminology. They also need to account for the fact that translation from one language to another can completely change the look of the product and its functionality.


Do certain colours have different connotations in other cultures? Perhaps some countries have very strong associations with a certain colour either positively or negatively.


Ask yourself how the currency and exchange rate affect what you are working on. Sometimes different tax systems can play havoc on the budget.


Once again it’s your turn to use due diligence and think about how culture can affect the perception of the images you are using.

In the research stage of development, localisation means taking time to look into the following:


Don’t be afraid to really delve into who your target audience is and explore how where your target market lives might affect their behaviours.


How does your intended audience think? Travel? Spend? Spending time working through subtle nuances and cultural differences at the research stage can save time further down the line spent correcting simple design mistakes that don’t align with your audience.


Different global audiences will be incentivised in different ways. Don’t forget to research these as you can miss powerful ways to get responses from your intended audience.


Any good researcher knows that you should always respond to feedback and researching for different global audiences is no different. Be prepared to think about the feedback you have access to from different cultural and economic viewpoints.

Let’s go back to our original story and Megan’s problem.

You might be wondering who Megan ended up picking for the role. A cool tech guy or a trendy designer who wants to spend the time surfing in Oz perhaps?

Nope, Megan hired a semi-retired Grandad from New Zealand who had some time available to come away and work on something a little different from his day to day.

In Megan’s talk for WebExpo she is not afraid to get into the nitty gritty of times she and her team have failed using real-life examples when it comes to UX design and designing for a global market. You can watch the whole talk here:

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