Google Korea plans a major facelift for its main page in December, displaying media content such as news and entertainment, photos, popular blog entries, alternative searches and other items of interest upfront.
Compare the current Google Korea page
(both of which have animation and videos) and you'll see the huge difference. The article continues:
Naver (www.naver.com), the country's most popular Web site, has a 66 percent share of the search market, followed by Daum (www.daum.net), which has a 20 percent share, according to the figures. Nate (www.nate.com) is also gaining a larger chunk of the traffic after absorbing the popular Cyworld (www.cyworld.com) social networking services.
Google Korea officials stress that a heavier Google site wouldn't result in a slower user experience. Perhaps, the bigger question is whether the effort to be more like Naver, Daum and Nate is the right option for Google Korea to be more widely used.
``When Web portals add more features and make their main pages more complex, this usually leads to slower loading time. However, the newer version of Google's Korean Web page will be quick and sophisticated at the same time,'' a Google Korea official said.
The new Google Korea's (www.google.co.kr) main page will have the Google logo and search box pulled up from its current central position to make room for the categories of ``blogs,'' ``people'' and ``hot issues.''
I have Naver as my homepage mostly because I think it's much better for finding Korean information (maps, encyclopedia articles, news, 등), and because I like the dictionary. I'd like to see a regional breakdown of what portals people use, though, because I don't recall the last time I saw somebody in Jeollanam-do using Naver. (I guess Daum is more anti-establishment, or whatever).
Industry analysts believe that the popularity of Daum's online debate section, Agora, which emerged as the seedbed for anti-government bloggers amid the controversy over U.S. beef imports, is helping the portal revive its once-dying rivalry with Naver.
``Agora has undoubtedly helped Daum improve its brand image and that is resulting in the increase in search traffic," said Jeong Woo-cheol, an analyst from Mirae Asset Securities, pointing out that Naver's timing and range of decline in search share coincide with Daum's rise.
But one reason Naver has been able to succeed is because of it's "walled garden" approach, which means running a Google search in Korean won't reveal anything contained in Naver's encyclopedia or popular Q&A section. Here's a bit from an article from OhmyNews, found via from a post "Naver vs. Google" from A Year in Mokpo in 2007, about why Google has such a small market share:
A prevalent theory in Korean dotcom circles is that Google failed to impress demanding Korean customers with its lousy service. This is at least what Naver and other major local portals want Koreans to believe.
Choi Mi Jung, who leads Naver's "Knowledge Man" service, a Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia built by the spontaneous participation of Netizens, scoffs at the sloppy interface and unfriendly way Google's Korean site presents its search results. "It is how meticulously their service was designed that made the difference," she says.
However, the real reason behind Google's difficult path in Korea is that its highly praised search technology was rendered practically useless in the Korean language sphere when major portals decided to block Google search robots from crawling around the content they hold, industry observers universally note.
One effect I've noticed from this "walled garden," as the article calls it, is that if I'm looking for something---a picture, a video, a particular topic in the news---and I can't find it on Naver, there's a good chance a search on Daum, on another portal, or even through Google will turn something up.
Anyway, this is all pretty timely considering the conversation going on in the comment section to the post "What was wrong with ifriendly.kr?" People are talking about the different preferences of Koreans and non-Koreans when it comes to websites. Stevie Bee writing about GMarket:
It looks like an explosion in a GIF factory. Do they actually have qualified designers working for them? What sort of tasteless, clueless lackwit would lead the design of a site like that?
Honestly, the next time you're with him, sit him down at a computer, open Internet Explorer (obv) and go to gmarket.co.kr and ask him to give you an explanation. Ask him to account for the presence of 20+ animated GIFs, flickering far too quickly to glean any sense from them. Ask him to account for the floating fucking sidebar. Ask him to account for the seeming lack of any sort of prioritizing or organization of information. And then give him a good hard clip around the ear from me.
From David tz, who teaches "the head of strategic marketing at Gmarket and the head of Human Resourse at Auction":
An eyesore to who? A Korean or a person used to Google minimalism? A lot of those animated gifs are graphics provided by the companies selling products on Gmarket. It's not the complete fault of the designers of Gmarket. It's also mostly a Korean design aesthetic (ever seen a flyer for a nightclub? same thing). To a Korean, it's awesome, to a person who has grown up with Google, it's an eyesore and let's face it, Gmarket is not designed with you in mind-- eBay is.
. . .
Having worked as a Graphic Designer in Canada for 10 years, and 6 years here in Korea, I can assure you that the differences are like night and day. Korean clients want busy and garish designs and every single time I design something the way I was taught, schooled in the Western aesthetic, my designs get rejected. As soon as I take the same design and make it ugly and busy, I get a nice fat paycheck. Gmarket is in much the same position. It's nothing without the companies selling products and they're the one providing those awful gif animations. All the Gmarket designed graphics are actually static images.
. . .
From This Is Me Posting:
I think my brain just exploded from looking at that Gmarket site for more than 10 seconds.
Here's the GMarket site, by the way. And from justin:
you guys are missing the whole point...
websites are designed as so because it caters to the "KOREANS".
they have little or no interest in bringing westerners to their site.. (especially sites like gmarket..i mean who buys it there when you have sites like ebay here in the states)...so you guys are the MINORITY and no company can satisfy every single one of their potential customers.
so as far as designs go...you should accept it as a cultural difference rather than as an indication of poor aesthetic decision...
Browse the rest on your own.