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Global appeal – is your website ready for an international audience?

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in Education and Training

Websites which appeal globally offer a great opportunity to gain new business – but how can this be achieved? If you would like to know how you can use your website to attract customers from different parts of the world, you have come to the right place. We will show you why you should invest in a multilingual website and what to consider before you go ahead.

First of all, the idea behind multilingual websites is to secure the future of your business. Today’s globalised market demands that companies cater for the linguistic and cultural needs of potential customers – not only overseas. A recent Eurobarometer report revealed, that 90% of EU citizens prefer to visit a website in their own language, even when they are capable of reading English. It seems safe to assume, that the same applies to web users elsewhere around the globe. You can use this to your advantage – by offering your services in the language of your target market.

Which languages matter to your business depends on your sector and the markets you wish to move into. If you are unsure, you may find it helpful to analyse the web traffic to your website to find out whether you are already attracting visitors from one particular country or area. Should this be the case, you are likely to benefit from removing a possible language barrier by providing information in the applicable language. If your business is operating in a country with multiple language communities, providing alternative versions of your website will help you move one step closer to these potential clients.

While language is important, it is not the only aspect to consider when adapting your web presence for a different linguistic group. The visual and technical qualities of your website are equally as important, an aspect which is easily ignored or forgotten. When you localize your website, you should take care to incorporate local preferences and carefully consider the culture of your future customers. While web users in the west tend to prefer a clean and organised design, the trend in Asia goes towards loud and busy visuals.

The following two websites of food and beverage giant Heinz (famous for the ketchup) are great examples of successful localisation.

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The UK site is designed to appeal to UK customers and their preference for a simple and accessible structure, the Chinese version is full of eye popping images and colour:

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Cultural difference doesn’t end there – what’s popular in the west may be offensive in a different culture. Celebrity endorsement and images of models for example are the norm in European and American advertising.

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However, in Saudi Arabia such an approach would be highly problematic. Note the difference between the Heinz US and Saudi Arabia websites:

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Adapting your website to appeal globally will be a highly individual process, depending on your sector and the plans you have for your business. The most important step is to begin considering your multilingual customer’s point of view – because, as Jane Austen put it: “One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best.” Jane Austen may not be considered an authority on website localisation but her quote certainly hits the nail on the head!



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