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Website Globalization: Best Practices


As the global internet audience continues to grow at a rapid pace, with upwards of 70% of all internet users being non-native English speakers, what better way to expand your global reach than to ramp up your website globalization efforts? With the increased competition to capture a greater share of the online market, it is not only important to create a multilingual website, but also to develop best practices to continue to boost web traffic and keep your site ahead of the curve. Here is some information to learn from the best and help your multilingual website to stand out from the competition.


The language mix.  According to the 2010 Web Globalization Report Card, the best global websites support an increasing number of languages. However, adding languages just for the sake of it would not be an effective solution. It is advisable instead to conduct regular audits of your website’s language mix to determine how to better target new or existing audiences and stay ahead of the competition. This includes reviewing languages the competition offers, languages your target audiences speak that could be added, etc. Of course, this should be done for all related online and print material in addition to the website itself. Expanding global reach by adding languages can also be accomplished within a country’s borders. For example, in the US , companies can reach out to such growing audiences as Spanish, Russian, Polish, or Vietnamese speakers, to name a few.


Global by design.  Many of the best websites, as indicated in the 2010 Web Globalization Report Card, are succeeding because they have a global design strategy that includes maintaining a level of consistency across languages by creating a global design template. Global templates allow companies to save time and control costs by streamlining the design process while still allowing for flexibility to localize when needed.


Design best practices. As part of a global design strategy, it is also important to keep in mind the following best practices:

• Avoid graphics with embedded text to save time and reduce formatting costs.

• Use a consistent, flexible design that supports bidirectional layouts and allows for text expansion in other languages.

• Reduce the amount of extraneous graphics that create unnecessary clutter or increase the risk that these images will be inappropriate or offensive to the target audience.


Balance the global with the local. In addition to having a web globalization strategy, determine if certain content is specific to a particular region or market and should either be removed or adapted for the target audience. This would also include links that may need to be replaced with ones that are more appropriate for the target audience or locale. For example, if there are links to specific local community or government resources, those should be changed to ones that are more useful for the target audience.


Develop a multilingual navigation strategy. As shown in the Syntes eTip, “Website Search Success in Any Language,” in addition to building a multilingual website, it is important to develop a strategy that ensures speakers of other languages can readily find your website when doing internet searches, ideally before they find a competitor’s site!


Plan for updates and maintenance. Develop a strategy that takes into consideration how often the site will need to be updated and what corresponding process needs to be put into place. For example, maintaining daily updates across languages may require a more automated process and the use of specific tools to increase efficiency when making these updates. Consult with your Language Services Provider (LSP) to determine a strategy for efficiently updating and maintaining your multilingual website.


Test and retest. As explained in the Syntes eTip on website testing, in order to protect your investment in a multilingual website, it is essential to test the site before it goes live and to retest when significant updates are made. Testing will ensure that the content is linguistically accurate and that links and other elements of the site are functioning properly in the target language. Be sure to work with your LSP to develop a plan for your multilingual website development that includes testing.


Stay ahead of the competition and expand your global reach by following these best practices to develop a multilingual website strategy that allows you to more effectively connect with a larger, more diverse internet audience than ever before!


Note: Some of the information in this eTip was adapted from the Multilingual article “Learning from the best global websites” by John Yunker

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