Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· cloudyhls

Web Design in Communist China


As a disclaimer, this is simply an experience that I've learned from in many ways. Not a code tip. Take from it what you will.

I have recently found myself living in rural western China and meeting with local web design agencies to trade ideas. Most of articles I write tend to be directly work related, however I felt this change of perspective could also benefit some of you. Here's what I've learned so far:

What You Should Know

The Bad

  • IE is by FAR the most popular browser (most people don't know there are others). On top of that, they are very very outdated.

  • Government censorship. Forget using script links to Google API, they wont work!

  • The government is your biggest client. Some of the best work agencies can get are government jobs. If you can't get these, you are stuck with very small businesses or very large corporations.

  • Web technology is impressively outdated.

The Good

  • There are a lot of people here, which presents a lot of opportunity.

  • Web apps tend to do very well (particularly social ones).

  • Office space, servers, and great team members are easy to find.

  • Small businesses will account for 90% of your clients. Work is not scarce.

Some Thoughts

If a team or agency is looking for users for their web app or product, I think is obvious to pursue every option. Adding support for high energy countries such as China should be a priority. Yet, I see that it is often overlooked for political reasons.

I'd love to hear your international business experiences. Please comment below as I continue to add to this Pro Tip.

5 Responses
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Fascinating perspective. What technologies are popular in China? Are there any specific tools that are unique to the region or to Chinese language or culture?

over 1 year ago ·

So far I've learned that older versions of PHP dominate here. Agencies are also very fond of HTML 4 (as HTML 5 is not widely supported). As for tools, Dreamweaver and Photoshop seem to be the clear winners. I haven't seen any popular Chinese environments however. Due to limitations of the Chinese Hanzi (characters), it is simply easier to go with western platforms.

I am meeting with the largest web design firm in Chongqing very soon. So I hope to make a few business ties and mutually gain from the experience.


over 1 year ago ·

Super neat insight. Thanks!

over 1 year ago ·

is it the same in cities? Some of your observations would seem to apply to rural areas in general, not China in general.

I'm speaking as someone who has been to rural areas in North America, but never to China, so i'm only guessing

over 1 year ago ·

You are correct. Rural and outdated are good words to describe China's overall internet presence. I live in Chongqing, a city of more than 30 million and run almost entirely by the central government. That, I think makes it very unique as government intervention plays a very large role in how we do our job. Other than Beijing and Shanghai, who see a large presence of international business, Chongqing is 99% Han. Therefore everything here is very culturally pristine.

I'm from Chicago, so I definitely understand what you are saying, and I apologize for not explaining that further.


over 1 year ago ·