What's different about Arabic web design

Brightlemon's Leon Tong and Inspiral Design's Mukhtar Sanders reveal how to design for an Arabic audience.

01. Make the layout work in RTL

Arabic website visitors will be used to reading left to right

Arabic is one of the most difficult languages to design for digitally because it reads right-to-left (RTL). With Arabic, the right-to-left aspect is more complex even than a language such as Chinese because the entire web page needs to be flipped horizontally.

It is still relatively straightforward to construct a single language site in Arabic. But designing multilingual sites that include Arabic will require careful planning to ensure the design does not have any conflicts when switching from LTR to RTL, or vice-versa.

02. Pick the right platform

03. Pick specific images for RTL and LTR

Don’t use the same images for both the Arabic and English version You'll need to individually select images for Arabic and English versions of your site. Simply horizontally flipping your images between versions will usually lead to some odd looking results.

04. Use HTML prototypes

Patternlab is based on creating pages via atoms, molecules, organisms and templates

In terms of process, what works really well in building an Arabic website is to ensure that the first major deliverable is a clickable HTML prototype.

05. Make it mobile friendly

Our research shows that 30-40 per cent of internet users in the Middle East regularly use smartphones and tablets, and such devices are particularly popular with the growing young population.

So, for the University of Dammam's students, we've designed the website to be more like an intuitive app, as it is usually the most common way for them to get information.

06. Rise to the challenge of Arabic typesetting

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