When you’re ready to expand your web presence into global markets, one thing is obvious: you’ll need to translate the written content into one or more languages to really connect with local audiences. Slightly less obvious, but no less critical, is the “behind the scenes" work that needs to happen before you undertake your website globalization project.
Before you start localizing the content, it’s important to understand how the architecture of your website affects the way that content is organized and presented. This gives you the opportunity to make critical changes to your web architecture so that rolling out—and maintaining—global websites is a much easier, faster, more consistent, and less costly process.
Taking the following four steps will help you expand your global presence with a great deal more ease:
Step 1: Use global templates
Global templates help ensure that your site is displayed consistently across markets. If you’re going to be translating your website into several languages, you want customers to have the same “look and feel" experience no matter what language they are viewing it in. Using global templates helps you accomplish this.
Step 2: Determine what information is global and what is local
When you enter other markets, you’ll want to reserve some space within the site design for in-market localization, such as local promotions. For example, you could localize most of the page consistently across all markets, but leave a hero banner section of the landing page up to your in-country marketing team’s discretion.
Step 3: Decide if sites will be localized by language or by country
It may be tempting to just localize sites by language; after all, translating into Spanish gives you entrée into 20+ markets. This is fine for informational content, but when you’re planning on an ecommerce presence, localizing by market makes more sense, as you’ll need to present consistent currency, shipping, and even legal information.
Step 4: Internationalize page elements
Individual page elements also play an important role in how easily your website can be translated. Consider the following:
- Use Unicode fonts and encoding, this helps ensure that characters are well-displayed in every language.
- Make text boxes adjustable based on text length. Some languages can expand by 30 percent or more when translated, while others contract; adjustable text boxes ensure that the page layout still flows nicely once translated.
- Make SEO and other on-page elements available for translation. SEO content includes headings, meta data URLs, and image descriptions (alt text). When possible, separate logos and taglines from images so these can be translated; if you can’t, type in the text from the image as additional copy within the alt text, allowing it to be translated.
- Use HTML 5, not Flash, for video. HTML5 is the new standard for web video, giving your developers “write-once, use everywhere" capabilities. It renders more consistently across phones and tablets—without requiring a plug-in, and also allows you to use geolocation to tailor experiences based on a user’s location.
These four steps will have you well on your way to faster, easier website globalization. If you’d like more in-depth information on preparing your website for global markets, tune in to our recent MarketingProfs webinar: