The Global Website
Making it work for you
David Iwinski Jr.
The Global Website
Making it work for you
In an era of expanding global business, no matter where you are in the world one of the first things that a prospective client or customer will check out is your website. While in some cases the website may be an actual tool of commerce, in many cases it acts as an electronic brochure where prospective customers can read detailed information about your company and products to verify your claims. A well-designed website is a “must have” aspect of international business.
Here are a few things to think about when your website must appeal to a global audience:
Multiple Languages - It is critical that your website be rendered in all languages where possible customers might reside. In addition to listing those alternative languages at the very top of the front page where they are easy for all to see, I would suggest placing a small image of the national flag of those countries where you are targeting customers to make it even more obvious where they can click to go to pages in their native tongue.
Grammar and Syntax - This is one of the hardest elements to get right and, at the same time, one of the best ways to put your best foot forward when dealing globally. While great advances have been made in computer and machine-based translation, you absolutely want the human touch when going over the subtleties of language that present your product to the world. For every new language page you add to your website, not only engage professional translators to develop the text, but also send the draft pages to numerous people who are native speakers in the target country. Be careful also to make sure the translators have the necessary technical proficiency to cover complex subjects with clarity.
Color - Some colors may have negative connotations in other countries and while it may be impossible to develop a website where the color scheme and logo is pleasing to all eyes, it would be helpful to investigate any specific prohibitions for the targeted countries in each language where you develop a page. If need be, the pages on that specific language could be done in a slightly different palette that is pleasing to the eye of your prospective customers.
Navigation - Try to make the navigation as simple as possible with a concise and practical array of initial drop-down menus. Many parts of the developing world do a lot of their business on smart phones and so you want to make sure that your website (in all languages) will be clear and legible on small devices. In some cases, it may be a good idea to invest in a separate mobile site optimized for the small screen.
Pictures - Be sure that pictures and illustrations show a diversity of the nationalities. While the text in the international pages may be in a native language, generally you can use the same pictures throughout the website so long as there is good global representation amongst the people portrayed. If you are trying to do business in areas that have specific political or religious prohibitions on certain kinds of images, you may consider whether it would be prudent to either create a unique website for that region or to limit pictures that would be offensive to potential clients.
Technical Detail - One weakness of international sites is that the difficulty of translation of detailed technical information often causes the website text to be condensed or simplified. If you desire people from that country to be your customers, they will want to get the same degree of technical background as those in your home country. You may very well encounter people who are multilingual that will review both pages and you want to make sure that they have equivalent levels of detail.
Referrals and Endorsements - When using these, try to have a specific endorsement from every country where you intend to do business. This both demonstrates your current global outreach and also that your international customers have as much focus and attention as the domestic customers.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you may soon find the volume of business flowing from your international pages might well exceed that from your domestic ones!