I’m excited to announce the publication of The 2017 Web Globalization Report Card. This is the most ambitious report I’ve written so far and it sheds light on a number of new and established best practices in website globalization.
Here are the top-scoring websites from the report:
For regular readers of this blog, you’ll notice that Google is yet again ranked number one. But Google isn’t resting on its laurels. While many software companies are happy to support 20 or 30 languages on their websites, Google continues to add languages across its many products. Consider Gmail, with support for 72 languages and YouTube, with 75 languages. And let’s not overlook Google Translate, now at 100+ languages.
Google could still stand to improve in global navigation, though I am seeing positive signs of harmonization across its many product silos. But I do maintain the recommendation that Google present a more traditional global gateway to visitors across its sites and apps.
Other highlights from the top 25 list include:
- Consumer goods companies such as Pampers and Nestlé are a positive sign that non-tech companies are making positive strides in improving their website globalization skills.
- IKEA returned to the list this year after making a welcome change to its global gateway strategy.
- Nissan made the top 25 list for the first time. BMW slipped off the list.
- As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 54 languages (up from 52 last year); if we removed Wikipedia from the language counts the average would still be an impressive 44 languages.
- GoDaddy, a new addition to the Report Card, wasted little time in making this list. Its global gateway is worth studying.
- Luxury brands such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren continue to lag in web globalization — from poor support for languages to inadequate localization.
- The average number of languages supported by all 150 global brands is now 31.
But as you can see here, the rate of language growth, on average, is slowing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Companies are telling me that they are investing more on depth and quality of localization — which is of huge importance.
The data underlying the Report Card is based on studying the leading global brands and world’s largest companies — 150 companies across more than 20 industry sectors. I began tracking many of the companies included in this report more than a decade ago and am happy to share insights into what works and what doesn’t. Time is often the greatest indicator of best practices.
I’ll have much more to share in the weeks and months ahead. If you have any questions about the report, please let me know.
Congratulations to the top 25 companies and the people within these companies that have long championed web globalization.
The 2017 Web Globalization Report Card
Remember not very long ago when social media experts were preaching the value of a Facebook page over a website?
It was not uncommon to be told to dump your website altogether in favor of a Facebook page and Twitter feed. Why bother with HTML when you you could simply hashtag your way to global success?
My how times have changed.
I find it telling that, according to Marketing Land, Super Bowl ads displayed website URLs over hashtags for the first time in several years:
Perhaps hashtags aren’t as a sexy as they once were.
And Facebook is not the generous landlord it once was; anyone who wants to get their message out to all followers is going to have to pay to do so. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned in only 6% of those Super Bowl ads.
And what about mobile apps? Remember when everyone needed one?
According to ComScore, people only use about 25 apps a month, while they will visit 100 websites. So if you’re not among those top 25 mobile apps, you’re far better off investing in your website.
Websites continue to be the best bang for your marketing dollar. Not just in the United States but around the world.
I’m hard at work on the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card and I’ve noticed an increasing number of companies asking visitors to join their mailing list. I believe email was dead once as well not very long ago.
Email is still here. So are websites. The more things change the more things stay the same.
Long live websites…
Xerox recently spun off its services unit into a billion-dollar global company known as Conduent.
I took a quick look at the Conduent website to see how world-ready this “global” website had become in its very first iteration. And, spoiler alert, it’s clear that Conduent is only just getting started.
Here’s an excerpt of the home page:
And a close-up of the global gateway, such as it is:
Here’s a close-up of a Twitter excerpt on the home page:
What about mobile? Here’s the home page on a smartphone:
And the mobile menu:
Where’s the global gateway menu you might ask?
So I thought I’d put together a few tips that would be useful to Conduent — and any other company that is on the verge of expanding its website globally.
5 tips for creating a more world-ready website:
- Keep it lightweight. Already, Conduent is loaded with videos and large photographs that add significant “weight” in kilobytes to the web page. When thinking globally, companies need to think about slower mobile networks around the world and make sure that weight limits are in place to allow the website to display and respond quickly on these networks.
- Don’t just respond to mobile devices, respond to mobile customers. It’s nice that the mobile website does not default to animation (like the desktop site) but all we’re seeing now is a scaled-down version of the desktop website. Ideally, the mobile site supports mobile-specific usage scenarios, which isn’t yet evident here. I don’t see the global gateway on the mobile site — a rookie mistake, but one that really does punish mobile users who want to navigate to local content (when that content is available).
- Get your global gateway right the first time. In Conduent’s case, that means losing the American flag. I realize the circled flag is inspired by Apple, but Apple is on the wrong side of history on this one I’m afraid. Instead, Conduent should develop a text-only global gateway menu, which will scale more readily.
- Bake social into the design. Conduent does a nice job of highlighting its Twitter feed on its home page. Going forward, it’s important that Conduent support local-language Twitter (and other social) feeds that can be excerpted on the home page. By doing so, website visitors are more likely to discover the localized feeds and are more likely to engage with you.
- Think local by design content. Social content in the local language is a great beginning. But what about local language blogs and other content? Conduent does support a number of English-language blogs. It will be nice to see these blogs replicated in other markets, managed by local content creators.
For more insights into website globalization, check out the Web Globalization Report Card.
First of all, I love tofu.
But when you see it on a computer screen, it’s not so nice.
Like those two rows of “tofu-shaped” objects shown below that indicate a missing font:
Tofu used to be a much bigger problem ten years ago, back when fonts are strictly aligned with different character sets and computers shipped with very limited font families. Today, computers and phones ship with system fonts that can natively display a significant number of languages.
Nevertheless, as websites support more and more languages, the need for fully world-ready fonts will only grow.
So it’s nice to see Google investing in creating open-source font faces to support the world’s languages.
This font family is called NOTO (as in no tofu).
A package of all 100+ fonts weighs more than 470MB.
Instead, you might pick and choose which language/script you wish to support:
This post is brought to you by the Multilingual Eye Chart.
Examine the Boeing global gateway below and see if you can see a problem:
I did not realize the Middle East had an official flag but, according to this gateway, it does.
And herein lies a major problem with using flags — they’re not well suited to regional websites.
Apple has a similar problem as illustrated by its Latin American flags:
So what’s the solution?
Stop using flags for global navigation.
It’s quite simple actually.
And, yes, I do believe that Apple will drop flags from its website. Eventually.
For more on this, check out The Art of the Global Gateway.