A great website can mean different things to different audiences. But one thing everyone can agree on is that for a global website to be impactful and useful to a target audience, it must cater to their preferences and provide a positive user experience.
Whether your users are visiting from Brazil, Spain or India, each of them expects and deserves a website experience that is tailored to his or her cultural expectations. A visitor in Spain most likely will not be intrigued by a website designed for a visitor in Brazil or India.
As your company continues to expand globally, you should quickly be realizing that language doesn’t have to be a barrier. Instead, it’s an enabler you can use in new ventures to capture more business.
So, how can you make sure you’re serving your global audience in the appropriate way? We’re breaking down three of the most important features of a great global website.
1) A positive user experience
Arguably the most important part of providing visitors with a positive user experience on your global website is content organization. Whether your web user’s goal is to make a purchase, find and download content or book a hotel room, you’ll need to figure out the best way to do that for every audience.
Language first, country second. In a study conducted by Common Sense Advisory, language was generally the first hurdle for visitors—people first look for content in their preferred language. To avoid confusion, language should be addressed first before addressing the user’s country. Keep in mind the use of flag icons to choose a country is generally not considered best practice. Since a given country may have multiple spoken languages, it can be very misleading and counter-productive.
You will also need to decide if using a gateway—a webpage dedicated to showing all of the available languages—is ideal for your global website. You may also consider meta-navigation as a fixed element on the homepage using a drop-down menu.
2) The right mix of interactivity and visuals
Different cultures typically prefer different content types such as text, audio and video when it comes to ways of engaging with your brand. While one country may use video as their preferred form of communication, another country may prefer text. Research your target culture’s content type preferences so you can be sure to choose the right elements. What you choose to feature—and the prominence of each localized element—may differ with each country.
High-context cultures and low-context cultures generally have different preferences when it comes to visuals and text as well. Not every layout or graphic will be acceptable in every market. In fact, even the dominant color on your Brazil site may not work for your Spain site. Adjusting your visuals for different target audiences should be considered in order to adapt your global website for a given audience.
3) Social networking and sharing
You may be actively engaged in social media already, but unless you’ve taken a multilingual approach with it, you’re missing the boat . . . Nothing screams ‘afterthought’ quite as much as being served content in mixed languages on the same page. With over half of all social media users communicating in languages other than English, companies that don’t cater to these markets are missing a world of opportunity. Problems like this can be avoided by having a coherent localization strategy and a logical content framework.
The first step to incorporating social media into your global website is to do your research and feature social media sharing buttons on your website that reflect the local culture’s preferences. Don’t assume every country favors the same social media networks as your host country.
Effective utilization of these social media tools will allow your company to interact with your audience like never before. Allow visitors to interact directly with your company by including online discussions and customer reviews available in multiple languages. Not only will you be equipped to easily gather feedback from your audience but it should dramatically increase your brand awareness and recognition.
Think local in every aspect
So the lesson here is that a great global website is a key element in building a long-lasting relationship with your customers. Tailoring the online experience for both language and country will welcome your targeted web visitors and make them feel at home. According to Common Sense Advisory, over 72 percent of visitors spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language. That means more time is being spent on your page, achieving a higher level of customer engagement, a better overall experience and a greater likeliness to return again.
In a certain way, calling it a global website is a bit of a misnomer. Rather than thinking in terms of one universally acceptable, watered-down website that looks the same in every language, you need to think local in every respect and put your audience at the core of the design.
If you’re looking to add some life to your global website and grab the attention of your multinational group of visitors, send us a note and we’ll be sure to get you on your way.
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