As a small business owner would you like to develop your international business? Would you like to reach an international audience as wide as possible? Even if you already have a global website, you will reach more people simply by translating your website into more languages. How do you select which languages to use?
Do a little internet surfing and you will see that some companies have websites in over 10 languages. Businesses are offering over 20 languages are more common than in the past and the increase in choices of language is rising each year.
Deciding how many languages and which languages to use for your website takes time. How do you decide which languages to use when translation costs can be expensive and cultural marketing mistakes are notorious?
The choice of languages, and website translations, can take time. But this is not the first step. The first step important for your international business development is preparation for future multiple multilingual websites.
By simply being aware of the steps involved in website globalization you will avoid common pitfalls. It will save you time and money in the long run if you prepare for their future implementation right from the start when creating your local website. Preparing for progressive growth today can prove a key element in reaching all of your international markets tomorrow.
Sufficient preparation will give you the key market information you need to make your websites truly global.
Translation is not the only key element to a fully customized global website. There are four main areas for success global websites.
The first is obviously the language. To reach 80% of today’s internet users you need to communicate in at least 10 languages. The long time standard choice of languages, French, Italian, German and Spanish, will no longer suffice. In addition to the larger countries with high internet user demographics, the smaller developing countries can also represent a great market to target.
Companies can surprise themselves by choosing languages they did not think of just a short time ago. Many of the companies now offering over 20 languages did not imagine they would offer so many languages so quickly. Plan for expansion.
For best results, plan on extending the choice of languages your website is available in. The expansion of internet users is still underway. Internet demographics are changing.
The trend is confirmed. More and more businesses are increasing the number of languages available on their website. Part of the reason is due to business globalization. Also, internet users all over the world are also expecting to find more information in their own languages. This is why companies are expanding their choice of languages so dramatically.
The localization of your website is also a critical factor in bringing your online business global. What is localization? Localization involves the complete translation of your website, and registration in all of the appropriate local directories.
Not all websites are located in the same country. There is not one search engine that references every single website in the world in all languages. Google is the number one ranked search engine. Google is not the number one ranking search engine in every language in every country. There are many search engine options available that are specific to one language.
A user in a foreign country will probably use his local search engine, in his own language, when looking up information on the web. You can create a local website. Or you can register your website in the appropriate local directories in the local language. If you cannot be found, your translation costs are worthless.
Companies often adopt a progressive approach to localization. In part due to the time it takes to translate the website, the investment in translation, and also to refine the local marketing strategies.
In this case, the company will localize the website before all of the content is translated into the local language. Local users respond well to this if they have something in their local language and they are clearly shown where to go to find further information – see Navigation Techniques. The key is to keep the links open to the more detailed information during the transition and to label them clearly.
For your localized website to communicate well you need a certain depth of content. As translation costs are expensive and time consuming, companies often prefer to take this transition slowly, to adopt their website as closely as their website templates allow them to the local markets.
This is why initial localized websites often feel little more than a brochure and do not create a good user experience. If a little thought is given to this transition process, the website can be transparent about what has been translated or not. This gives the user control over his experience with your website and does not stop communication.
The localization of your website also involves tailoring various website elements to the local culture. Icons, photos, local holidays, date and time formats and search engine promotions. Only after all of these elements have been researched and modified will the international user feel “at home”.
Another key element to a successful global online business is the use of appropriate navigation techniques. This will help users to find their local language website quickly and easily. Some .com websites have more than half of their traffic from internet users abroad. These international users should be directed as easily as possible to their local websites. There is no perfect navigation strategy. The key is to find the best solution for your business and your users.
There are a few techniques you can choose from to direct traffic to your local website. However the techniques are evolving as the number of languages is increasing. With this increase in languages it is easy to understand the decline of the pull down language menu. There are just too many languages being offered now. Also, the use of flags is not as popular as in the past.
Today, the techniques generally considered include using a country domain name. Some companies, such as Google, have done very well with geolocation and language recognition. And the rising trend is to use a splash global gateway or a permanent global gateway.
As you choose which techniques are best suited for your company, remember two rules of international business etiquette:
1. Indicate the foreign language in the foreign language and script.
2. Remain neutral. Do not show favoritism for a particular country.
The best thing is to check out what others are doing in industries similar to yours and to keep checking to see any new trends. With the increase in countries being targeted, even more navigation techniques are sure to be developed.
The last key element for a successful global website is consistency across cultures. One of the best tools for ensuring consistency is using web templates. Templates ensure the same company branding across cultures.
But the reason why templates are such an important element to a successful global business is the savings in time and money. Templates make it easier to manage websites in multiple languages. You will naturally choose templates that are easy to modify into different languages and templates that are compatible in different countries. Your technical teams will find it easier and quicker to work with templates. They eliminate technical issues such as resizing. Your sales and marketing teams will also appreciate them. Templates make international promotions a lot easier; your marketing reactivity will be quicker.
Templates have a huge impact on the cost of translation and timeframe for implementation. Translations of web content can take longer than foreseen.
As stated earlier, when companies first set up a localized website they often only translate the basic outline of their website into the local language. And then they often decide to look for a better adaptation of their web content for local markets. Templates can provide companies the framework needed.
Using company wide web templates does not restrict local websites. Web templates are designed with multiple translations and multiple local websites. This will actually help the local websites by having less design elements to translate.
Consistency in the language used is also very important and often over looked. This is a good tool to have in place even if your website is in one language, especially if your website has a lot of content or gives specialized details.
When multiple translations are made from one document consistency in language is critical for accuracy. Inconsistent language can easily lead to errors in translation giving users the wrong information.
The best tool to use for language consistency is a company glossary. Establishing a company glossary before printing any written content is a good move.
Using a consistent vocabulary on the main website will also make it easier for foreign users to understand your message. It will also help the translators in their job.
Prepare For International Growth
What can you do to prepare your company for international expansion? Even if you are a small business with little or no current international clients, take the time to plan for the development of a globalized website. Include this step as part of your international business strategy.
A little thought while setting up your main website will help you make the transition into multiple language websites a lot smoother. A little preparation beforehand will save you time and money when you actually need the translations. You will be able to respond quickly and appropriately as your international business grows.
Don’t limit your company’s international potential by not seeing beyond your needs today. Start preparing for the international expansion your global internet company promises you tomorrow.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
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Filed under: website localization
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