I've been working as a designer in Japan for the last 7 years, and picked up a handful of tricks and rules of thumb to keep me out of trouble when designing Japanese or Japanese/English print pieces and websites, some of which I shared on my blog a few years ago.
Since then, I've had a few opportunities to design in other languages, and never ran into any major issues. Until recently when I hit a few copy-fitting bumps with German during a redesign project for a website that needs to support a dozen European languages.
Is there any resource out there that has some basic basic practices for designing in various languages? If not, shall we start one in this thread?
Here's my incomplete contribution to kick things off:
(All relative adjustments are "_____ than same in English")
- A little more leading to let heavy, mono-width/height Kanji breath.
- More reliance on decorative elements for list items (no caps in Ja.)
- Web-only: More reliance on graphic text (less system fonts to choose from)
- Web-only: WinXP will round down odd numbered font-sizes (e.g. 11px -> 10px)
- Allow for more design time for tracking/kerning adjustments.
- For multi-lingual: labels/navigation/titles can be drastically longer/shorter than En. Get key copy early for testing.
German (courtesy of Oliver R.)
- Wider columns (to accommodate longer words)
- Slightly more leading (to accommodate more capitalized words)