The Oban Blog

Oban Conversion Focus On……..Italy


Research by: Oban Conversion

Edited by: Joe Doveton

The “Focus On…..” series is an occasional series of articles based on research from Oban Conversion on cultural drivers and preferences that may affect web design and Usability choices. This month we look at the Italian web landscape:

  • Italy had around 26m people online as at Dec 2010. This is a relatively low proportion of the population (around 50%) making it one of the lowest in Europe (26th) (source: Eurostat Dec 2010)
  • Only 39% of Italian families have broadband, with only 54% of families having a computer (source: Repubblica research 2009)
  • Infrastructure is an inhibitor to online growth in Italy. It is difficult to get a reliable connection in rural Italy, with other factors being speed of connection, cost and problems with broadband bottlenecks. Another inhibitor is the postal network which has been described as “erratic and problematic” (source: Alex Roe, blogpost) . There are also political responsibilities, due of the lack of investment: (
  • E-Commerce activity is growing: between 2009-2010 eComm activity increased by 43% (source: Casaleggio Associati and ISPO)
  • The biggest sector in e-Commerce is leisure which includes gambling, betting, sporting goods and telephony 48.5%. Tourism accounts for 31.4%, Electronic Domestic goods was 7.1% (average spend €240) followed by insurance 6.7% (average spend €499) (source: Casaleggio Associati and ISPO)
  • Online growth is slow because of the economy and the low user base but is expanding: online retailers had a 10.38% share of the market CAGR, and were the fastest growing retailers in 2010. This will continue through 2015. (source: Eurostat 2010)
  • “Another factor limiting the growth of online retail in Italy is a cultural preference for cash transactions, as opposed to purchasing with credit cards, an inclination that is likely to be reinforced by the debt crisis affecting the country” (source: Eurostat 2010)
  • Culturally, there is research that indicates web design preferences amongst southern Europeans for bright, warm colours. E.R. Jaensch’s research indicates those who live in climates with a lot of sunlight prefer warm bright colours; while those from climates with less sunlight prefer cooler, less saturated colours. (source: ER Jaensch, “Eidetic Imagery”)
  • There are specific colours with cultural and product significance in Italy:
    • Red: light, fidelity, Italian flag, restaurant decorations
    • Blue: mourning, judgmental, heaven, purity
    • Purple: nobility, endurance of suffering, martyrdom
    • Gold: wealth, luxury, divinity, greed, jewelry, church decorations, crosses
    • Black: humility, death, mourning, Venician gondolas
    • Silver: wealth, luxury, craftsmanship
    • White: virtue, purity, white clothing
    • Brown: earth, penitence, humility, leather goods. (source: Global Propaganda/translating colours)
    • Prominent cross-channel brand websites often still favour Flash web design, which has largely been superceded by more SEO friendly design types in Western Europe (e.g.
    • Blue is quite often used as a text colour in Italy (national colour) including on sites like , and red is often a pricing colour





In a Multivariate Test conducted here at GlobalMaxer, Mio Italy customers preferred an orange heading format to a black heading, which created a 10% uplift in conversions (source: GlobalMaxer)



  • In general, many top ecommerce brands still favour complex, text rich websites led by large amounts of specific product content, loosely based on the old Amazon format (e.g In UK and American sites this has been superseded in many cases by eCommerce platform templates with a simpler design.