O means X abroad? Be careful when designing UI for foreigners!
This is a loosely translated English version of a Japanese article from the CJ Column.
Be ready for surprises when designing UI for foreigners. Some symbols commonly used in Japan have very different meanings
One of the best examples is "O", which typically means “correct” in Japanese. I was shocked to learn it means the opposite in
some other countries.
On Japanese gamepad controllers, for instance, "O" means “proceed” and "X" means "cancel". But the meanings are reversed on
gamepads in some markets.
Similarly, teachers in Japan mark correct answers with "O". But in many countries, teachers mark correct answers with "✓" and
mistakes with "O"!
In Japanese product feature charts, "O" indicates that a feature is available. But foreigners find this confusing and prefer to use "✓" or colors to indicate feature availability.
"O" is just one of many symbols that have different meanings abroad. It’s easy to assume that everyone understands what we understand. But good UI design requires designers to consider different perspectives.