I recently wrote an op-ed for the Seattle Times about the importance and value of thinking globally. Here’s an excerpt:
Consider Starbucks. In 2003, this aspiring global company supported a mere three languages. Today, it supports 25, which may sound like a lot until you compare it to many other global brands. Among the leading global brands, the average number of languages supported is 31, a new high based on my years of research. And then there are those companies that left 30 languages behind years ago — like Facebook, which supports more than 90 languages, and Google, which supports more than a hundred.
This degree of language growth isn’t just a tech phenomenon. John Deere supports 31 languages, Ford supports 42, and even Jack Daniels is fluent in 22 languages.
So while the U.S. leaders are speaking the rhetoric of isolationism, American companies of all sizes are speaking a different language — in fact, a lot of languages.
And here’s the full article.
For the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card, I benchmarked the following 9 retail websites:
For the purposes of this report, the retail segment includes only those companies that support physical retail locations within the markets they serve. While Amazon is in the early stages of rolling out retail locations, I still view Amazon as more of a web services company than a conventional retail company and is therefore benchmarked against sites such as eBay and Google. The reason for this distinction is to focus on those companies that are already physically distributed around the world and may have in-country offices supporting unique country websites.
One of the great web globalization challenges that global retail organizations face is in aligning disparate offices and cultures on shared design templates — a goal that has so far eluded companies such as McDonald’s and Walmart. IKEA emerged as number one this year, edging out Starbucks.
IKEA added two languages over the past year, raising its language total to 34; only McDonald’s supports more languages in this category.
IKEA continues to do an excellent job of supporting global consistency and depth of localization. But IKEA made a key improvement over the past year that I want to point out.
First, a bit of backstory. IKEA was one of the first companies to use a splash global gateway and continued to use one up until last year, shown here:
In the early days of global websites, IKEA was smart to use a splash global gateway. Geolocation was not yet a proven technology, so the splash page was the ideal way to ensure that visitors from around the world to the .com domain discovered their local websites.
But times have changed and people are impatient. They don’t want to land on a splash global gateway every time they arrive at your global home page. That’s where geolocation comes in.
Fortunately, IKEA isnow uses geolocation to greet you in your locale.
Now, when someone from the US visits IKEA.com he or she sees this page:
And customers in the United Kingdom see this landing page:
IKEA’s global gateway still could use improvement (an over reliance on flags). But this move to geolocation is a big step forward in global usability and a reason why IKEA is now the retail leader.
LUSH also relies on geolocation. Shown below is the landing page that LUSH greets Japanese visitors with. Unfortunately, language support is absent.
McDonald’s is the retail language leader at 41 languages yet still lags most global websites in consistency. Shown here are three country home pages to give you some idea of how widely designs vary.
McDonald’s could save significant resources by relying on global templates. This would benefit users as well as they would see consistent navigation and branding when they navigate between the .com website and the local websites (which is a common scenario.)
Walmart continues to lag the field in web globalization best practices. But there are small signs of progress. For instance, Walmart now uses geolocation to auto-direct users to local websites. So a web user in Brazil can enter walmart.com and be taken to the Brazil website. While I applaud the use of geolocation, the failure to include a visual global gateway in the header of every web page is dangerous because users cannot easily override the geolocated setting.
To learn more, check out the 2017 Report Card
PS: All purchasers of the Web Globalization Report Card receive signed copies of Think Outside the Country
, among other goodies!
I’m pleased to announce the publication of my newest book: Think Outside the Country: A Guide to Going Global and Succeeding in the Translation Economy.
This book is the result of the past decade spent working with marketing and web teams around the world. I’ve long wanted to have something I could pass along that would demystify the process of product or website globalization and provide insights into languages, cultures and countries. Such as Brazil:
Too often people get overwhelmed by the complexity of it all, not to mention bewildering lingo and acronyms such as FIGS (French, Italian, German Spanish) and L10n (localization). What I always tell people is that you don’t have to speak a half-dozen languages to succeed in this field, but you do have to know what questions to ask. Hopefully this book will help.
The book is now available through Amazon or by request from any local bookstore. You can learn more here.
PS: If you’d like to order multiple copies for your teams, quantity discounts are available. Simply contact me using this form.
I’m pleased to announce the new book Think Outside the Country: A Guide to Going Global and Succeeding in the Translation Economy, due out on April 10th.
Think Outside the Country is isn’t strictly about taking a website or mobile app global, though you’ll find plenty of real-world examples about how to do just that. Ultimately, this book is about taking yourself global. It’s about providing an understanding of the globalization process along with country and cultural insights so you know what questions to ask when you’re asked to, say, introduce a product into a new market or launch a global marketing campaign.
This book is intended for people who want to help their organizations expand into new markets as efficiently as possible without any embarrassing or costly mistakes. And this book is about showing respect for the people who live in these markets.
You won’t speak every language, understand every culture. And that’s okay. Nobody knows everything. But we can all know a little bit about a lot. More important, we can know what questions to ask. This book will help.
You can learn more here.
And it’s now available for preorder on Amazon.
PS: We will also offer quantity discounts if you’d like to order a batch for your teams.
I first noticed this while creating the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card — not on the US website but the German site.
But today Amazon rolled out support for Spanish for the US.
According to CNET:
A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based online retailer told CNET on Thursday that the website has begun adding Spanish. The change will let the US’ more than 40 million native Spanish speakers and over 10 million bilingual Spanish speakers toggle between English and Spanish on the site. The US is now the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico.
And you can navigate this language via the new globe icon:
Here’s a close-up of what you see when clicking on the globe icon:
I’ve long argued (going back to 2004) that the globe icon is best icon for global gateways — even if those gateways are language-only gateways. I’m happy to see Amazon embracing this icon and I’ve noted in the Report Card a number of other companies that now use this icon. More companies are sure to follow — I say this because I’ve spoken to several over the past two months that are headed in this direction.
Ultimately this is good news for web users as they will have another standardized icon to rely upon as they travel the world wide web.
PS: And, yes, Amazon supporting Spanish for the US market is big news as well. I’ll have more to say about this in the weeks ahead…
Learn more about the best global gateways in the latest Report Card.