Global websites are websites designed to support a global marketing strategy and expansion by offering many language choices. A global website can range from a simple homepage offered in multiple major languages to a complete strategy tying together a series of sites, each tailored to a specific language market.
Why are global websites important?
Setting up a process to offer a website in multiple languages is a necessary first step for entering global markets on a larger scale. For each major language market, a localization strategy must be in place to set standards for tone, visuals, branding, the nature of the required content, and user interface (UI) design that is flexible enough to handle differences in text length, character sets, and other design considerations.
One process that can greatly simplify these complex considerations is internationalization, the design of information, from the beginning, to be easier to translate into multiple languages. This involves training content creators to avoid local colloquialisms, images that may offend another culture, and any other elements which might work well in one language but not in others.
Are all language versions of a global website the same?
Are all versions of a global website identical except for language? Not necessarily. For example, a Starbucks site in the US and Europe may look completely different in Japan. For web designers who have been trained in maintaining consistent branding, this can be challenging to accept and implement. The development of consumer sites in particular may require a multicultural team of marketers and content creators to ensure the highest level of acceptance across many borders and markets.
Global website strategy: what makes it essential?
With these complex elements requiring consideration, a fully-invested globalization plan needs to start with a coordinated strategy. Product managers, translation project managers, linguists, marketers, supply chain experts, and finance – to name a few – can all be affected by the success or failure of this expansion.
The choice of what markets to launch into and an expansion strategy have to be a part of the story. US and Europe first? APAC as a separate site group? Are there smaller markets that are a particularly good product/market fit? These choices provide a development and localization roadmap.
How do companies manage translation and localization across multiple languages?
If a company already has translation and localization processes in place, e.g., in a documentation group, they may be leveraged to help manage the global site(s). However, creating a global website translation process is specialized and can involve graphic and video design, programming, and UI/UX design, and integration with systems like ecommerce applications. Those who don’t have the bandwidth to handle this complexity should consider a language service provider (LSP) with a digital team and previous experience managing high volume web translation.
No border crossings or customs on the web?
From a business perspective, the Internet offers few barriers to the distribution of information across borders and cultures other than language. This means products and services can be marketed globally. However, it is important to consider local regulatory environments and cultural customs. In China, for example, the government exercises much more control over information than in the US. These restrictions become, in essence, another form of border crossing that must be dealt with.
Why is SEO critical in global marketing?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another important consideration. With the large search engines out there, if a query is entered in a language, the engine will attempt to respond in that language with the required information. The lack of a web presence in that language essentially walls off your information from that market. This means considering international SEO, to ensure that your translated content ranks well for relevant search phrases.
What are the business advantages of creating a global website?
With all this complexity and expense, is developing a global website strategy worth it? The greater question is: can you afford not to? Every day, with faster and faster communication, cheaper and more widely available, tech-like cellular networks, more and more markets are opening and hungry for products and information. Like most of us, they are more receptive to content that speaks to them in familiar terms. And like many of us, this global localization effort builds value and reputation for a business brand, a reputation that can be a lasting asset in those markets.