About to embark on expanding your businesses overseas? One of the most important factors to consider would be your online presence, so before you get started, it’s good to ensure that your corporate website is ready for global operations. Here are some practical steps on getting your website ready for an international audience.
1. Using a global template
To differentiate segments of your global audience, you could use a global template to help segregate your different target audiences and direct them to the respective site corresponding to their locale.
Examples of such usage is in the form of a splash page for visitors to select their location as shown below in the example of McDonald’s international site, and Manchester United’s main site, in which visitors can select their respective language through a dropdown box.
The use of global templates would help set the platform for your global operations as visitors can easily navigate and find the webpage in their native language. Newly localized sites can also be added easily to the global template.
2. Ensuring Cultural and Political Sensitivity
To avoid any form of backlash, it is of utmost importance for businesses to cultivate a sense of cultural and political sensitivity in terms of their website content.
It might be considered alright to use a banner that contains pictures of scantily clad ladies in more liberal nations such as the United States however it would be considered culturally insensitive to do so in regions such as the Middle East.
Failure to ensure cultural and political sensitivity in your web content will not only affect your business operations, and depending on the severity of the issues, businesses might even be forced to shut down their operations in that particular region, inevitably damaging their global reputation.
3.Creating a local experience
Although you might not have local offices set up in your target markets, it is still possible to ensure visitors to your site can have an experience that caters to their locale;
One such example will be the use of local phone numbers in the website. Calls can then be directed to the nearest regional offices. Another example would be the use of local currencies in your product catalog.
Other factors to look into are demonstrating an awareness of public holidays. Some successful global brands put up notices of well wishes and even change their website themes to commemorate special occasions. The following is an example of Google’s thematic change to commemorate Singapore’s National Day.
4.Using of icons
As you might not have translated your website to the native language of your target market; a practical approach to go about this language barrier would be the usage of universal icons instead of just words for your links. This will ensure that visitors who are not familiar with your language would still be able to navigate through the website even with differences in terms of language understanding.
5.Optimizing your website
Even as high speed internet access is somewhat prevalent in most developed countries, there are still many parts of the world that do not have such a luxury. Thus it is important that your website is properly optimized so as to ensure browsing consistency.
Some simple steps you can take are to ensure that your images are properly re-sized and other multimedia elements, especially those with huge file sizes, are used sparingly.
A good practice would also be to test the loading time of your website in various connection speeds as it might take a much longer time to load due to differences in bandwidth in other parts of the world.