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Cultural Portals What Makes Em Tick

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peter van dijck

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User since: 22 Oct 1999

Articles written: 23

A comparison between two Colombian portals, not really from a

usability perspective, this time more from a cultural pespective:

One is an adaptation from a US portal to Colombia, the other one is a native Colombian portal. The difference lies in how they address the uniqueness of Colombian culture. I believe (no hard data) that how a portal addresses the specifics of a local culture will make a huge difference in its success.

So let's have a look at what they show on their homepages:


Apart from the directory categories, which are pretty much the same for both sites, they also have a link of shortcuts. These presumably are meant to appeal to Colombians' interests and provide a direct path to the most commonly searched for stuff.

Here are the Lycos shortcuts:

Charlas -- Correo -- Foros -- Messenger -- Páginas Personales -- Calendario -- Traductor -- Salud -- Mujer -- Finanzas -- Juegos -- Software -- Symantec --


Chat -- mail -- forums -- messenger -- personal pages -- calender -- translator -- health -- woman -- finance -- games -- software -- Symantec (?) --

On the side Lycos has: News and finance links. Right. Now this is all pretty average stuff. Nothing shocking, not much personality. Nothing saying "Colombia!"

OK, now let's see how Lalupa does:


Foros Discusión -- WAP -- Juan Pablo Montoya -- Fútbol -- Juegos -- Fabiola Zuluaga -- Sección Chat -- Páginas Amarillas -- Bancos -- Historia Colombia -- Horóscopo -- Traductor en linea -- Mujeres Bellas -- Semanario Cultural -- Postales -- Proceso de Paz


forums -- wap lalupa --

Juan Pablo Montoy --

Football -- games --

Fabialo Zuluaga -- chat -- yellow pages -- bancs (don't ask) --

Colombian history -- horoscopes -- translator --

beautiful women -- culture -- postcards --

peace process.

I'll let this list speak for itself. This says "Colombia." It says: "We know you. We care for you. We know what occupies your thoughts."

There's not much notable on the side, apart from a

poll. The thing to note again is that it asks questions that relate to Colombian life.


Let's be honest, there is not much to draw conclusions from here. No hard data, no research. One thing is for sure though, there is a distinct difference in how these two portals adapt to the cultural differences of their target audiences.

And there is more to making websites for an international audience than offering different languages.

Would it be easy for Lycos to replicate the lalupa approach? Is the lalupa approach even more effective? More questions than answers, as usual. I?ll leave you with some links.

Here's an article on cultural issues for marketeers:

A bunch of links on intercultural usability issues:

Peter Van Dijck is an Information Architect with an interest in localization, accessibility, content management systems and metadata.
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