6 Ways to Prepare Your Website for Global Audiences

Dec 03, 2018

Article ImageIf your company works with international customers, or plans to, you might be contemplating a website redesign to stay relevant and competitive. This is also an ideal time to localize that redesigned website in your customers’ preferred languages.

Historically, the process of refreshing your site and localizing it in multiple languages has been complicated. Today, there are several ways to mitigate costs and complexity—and deliver a redesigned website with an optimized, localized experience for your customers from start to finish.

Here are some of best practices to keep in mind:

Externalize Text From Images 

A rich, visual experience is essential for any website. For efficient localization of images, make sure they are free of any embedded text. Embedding text in images is difficult for most translation vendors to detect. Overlooked, untranslated embedded text risks displaying outdated prices, offers or messaging when images appear on a translated page.

Externalizing the text will help translators easily detect and localize it, allowing you to change image files as needed without requiring translation to be redone. Plus, translation teams won’t need to do additional graphics work to remove and replace the text, which saves money Separating text from images also makes it detectable and indexable for search engines, improving your rankings for key SEO terms in local organic search results.

Plan for Word Growth 

When you translate text from English to other languages, localized content can take up 20-45% more space on average, depending on the language. This phenomenon is called “word growth,” or “word contraction” if the new language takes up fewer characters like Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. When text is much longer or shorter than the space allocated by in the original website design, it can create a messy, unprofessional look and a poor user experience (UX). Tight spaces like drop-down menu boxes are most commonly affected by word growth.

Responsive website design can mitigate some of the risk, but there are other ways to eliminate the negative impact of word growth on your localized website’s UX.

Build fully-dynamic page templates that allow word wrap in any text boxes (rather than word overflow, which can spill translated text outside the templated area). And if you’re overlaying text on images, allow “breathing room” around the text to accommodate any length differences and ensure that your JS, CSS, and HTML templates have that padding in place.

If you’re translating into languages that read right-to-left—like Arabic or Hebrew—you’ll also want to customize formatting to make sure text displays correctly.

Set Up Your Content Management System to Support Multilingual Data 

If you collect information from visitors and customers through contact forms or other functions, be sure your database can support content in other languages. Otherwise, you’ll end up with unintelligible data in your content management system (CMS). This is especially likely if you’re capturing inputs from dual-byte character languages, like Chinese.

When you’re designing your forms, be sure to allow input of non-Latin scripts, like Arabic, Japanese, or Russian. Forcing users to “Romanize” personal information like names and addresses can cause frustration and may lead to abandonment of critical conversion funnels.

Localize Dynamic and Third-party Content

Don’t forget to consider all the content that will need to be translated, including the content that’s populated from places outside your CMS. For example, error messages on your site— triggered perhaps by entering too few numbers in a phone number field—often come from an external JavaScript file. Ask your translation provider how they handle the tricky task of identifying, extracting, and translating and re-integrating that text.

Most modern websites leverage third-party modules for everything from on-site search functions and e-commerce to reservation and booking engines. All the content coming from those modules must be localized, too. These capabilities are critical to your business, so it’s imperative that you work with a qualified translation partner capable of capturing, translating and displaying that content seamlessly.

Localize Content to Capture Cultural Nuance 

Your international customers want to feel like your website was built especially for them. That means delivering content that captures local flavor and cultural nuances.

Be sure to display information like dates, times, and units of measure in the proper local format. For transactional sites, localize currency units, payment options, and contact information, too. It’s not only good for user experience, it’s critical for handling on-site conversions.

Don’t ignore details like localized legal notices and security banners. They might not seem important, but they build trust when you’re engaging new international audiences, and help local customer service, sales, and marketing teams work more effectively in global regions and communicate clearly with prospects and customers.

Localize Content to Specific Markets and Regions

Customers in global markets need to know about the offers, product information, or seasonal content that’s specifically relevant to them. Localizations allow you to deliver content most relevant to local audiences. You can run a market-specific promotion, highlight regionally-popular product lines or showcase categories of products that are strong seasonal or geographic fits.

Work with your translation partner to determine how to configure your translated websites, and how your users will identify their preferred market. One option, for example, is to trigger content based on visitors’ IP addresses.

The Takeaway

Redesigning your website is a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to derail your efforts to serve customers around the globe.

Instead, a website redesign presents an opportunity to accelerate growth in global markets and create an engaging, authentic experience that your international customers will notice and value.

Related Articles

A study by the Knight Foundation, in partnership with Gallup, shows that while the American people believe the role of the media is fundamental to democracy, they do not see any media fulfilling that role satisfactorily. The study is part of a series undertaken by the Knight Foundation's Trust, Media and Democracy initiative; it's the largest on the topic, with more than 19,000 adults in the U.S participating in research conducted throughout early 2018.
Do you want to include video in your marketing strategy but have a limited budget? Here are a few suggestions to spend your time and money wisely.