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You Are Not World-Ready If...

Your application contains localizable bitmaps

Although one cannot stop using text in bitmaps for product names and logos, all images need to be culturally neutral and should not contain anything that needs to be localized.

Used properly, icons and bitmaps can be an important part of a user interface. However, the meaning of icons and bitmaps can be more ambiguous than the meaning of words. Therefore, consider the following guidelines when using icons and bitmaps:

  • Use images that are universally recognized. For example, use an envelope to represent mail, but don't use a mailbox because it's not a universal symbol.

    Cultural specific graphicCultural neutral graphic
  • Don't use culturally sensitive images. For example, avoid using images of religious symbols, or animals.
  • Avoid using text in bitmaps, because text growth can become a problem, just as it can in other parts of the interface.

    Additional art work is required to localize the text.

  • Avoid jargon, slang, humor, extravagant language, or ethnic stereotypes.
  • Use ToolTips to help explain icons, which have the added advantage of expanding automatically to the size of the text they display.
  • If you portray men and women, ensure that their gender roles are suitable, and that gestures and images of the human body are appropriate in the target culture.
  • Use color appropriately. For example, avoid using color combinations associated with national flags or political movements.
  • If you're not sure whether an icon or bitmap is appropriate, consult someone in the locale for which you're designing the application.

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