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Internationalizing Applications
Preparing the User Interface : Screen layout and composition : Culturally specific issues : Colors and sounds
Colors and sounds
How you use colors in your interface can help or hinder its usability. Associations or inferences made with colors might not be understood worldwide. For example, the color red means very different things throughout the world. Red signifies happiness in China, loyalty in France, and danger in the United States. Do not use colors in a way that could diminish the user's understanding of your application. If you imply meanings with colors and you do not modify the colors you use for each country, you might alienate some of your users.
The meanings of sounds are subjective and vary from culture to culture. For instance, telephones have different rings in different countries. So do sirens. If you use a sound as part of your software, it might not be recognized in every market and it might be misinterpreted.
Sound should accompany other types of communication, not replace them. For instance, a beep might accompany an error message, but the error message serves as the primary indicator that something is wrong. Sound communication should not be used alone because sound is not available to all users for a variety of reasons such as:
*Sound equipment is not available for the market or the individual.
*Sound equipment standards vary from culture to culture.
*Sound cannot be heard in a noisy environment or by the hearing impaired.
*Sound is user controlled and can be shut off.
*In some cultures it is not desirable to have the machine beep when you make a mistake. The beep might cause embarrassment in an open office environment.