The top 25 global websites from the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card

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

Boeing and the trouble with flags in global gateways

Examine the Boeing global gateway below and see if you can see a problem:

boeing_flags

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:

apple_flags_16

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.

Web localization is a black and white issue

The death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has led to stores running out of black and white clothing as the population mourns its leader in color-appropriate clothing.

What does this mean for website localization?

Consider the Thailand home pages for Apple:

apple_thai

Samsung:

samsung_thai

Microsoft:

microsoft_thai

McDonald’s:

mcdonalds_thai

Starbucks:

starbucks_thai

And Coca-Cola has gone black on its social feeds:

coke_social_thai

Web localization isn’t about creating a localized website and forgetting about it.

It’s about creating a living and breathing website that responds quickly to local events. Web localization is about respect.

To learn more about the leaders in web localization, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

 

Apple.news or news.apple?

Apple News

In a development that few people will notice but is interesting to us domain geeks, Apple is in the process of retiring its news.apple.com domain in favor of apple.news.

The .news domain is a top-level domain, much like .biz or .guru. You can register yours here.

Apple is not going to shed light on why it is making this migration. I suspect that anything to take traffic off the .com domain is never a bad idea.

Perhaps Apple has a long-term vision for making its News app web-accessible (instead of locked within an app).

But what if Apple had instead taken the opportunity to begin migrating to its own brand TLD .apple (which it currently is doing little with publicly). It could have used news.apple.

Which leads me to this question: Is news.apple better than apple.news?

It’s a question a number of companies are asking themselves currently — whether to migrate to their brand TLDs, using subdomains for country and regional websites as well as sub-brand websites. 

Regarding Apple, it’s hard to say which domain is better without knowing the goals for the News app. One could see news.apple and believe that this is the domain for news related to Apple, not a separate service. So, for now, it appears that Apple.news makes the most sense for the app.

 

Adobe: The best global consumer technology website of 2016

For the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied the following 15 consumer technology websites:

  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Canon
  • Dell
  • HP
  • HTC
  • Lenovo
  • LG
  • Microsoft
  • Nikon
  • Panasonic
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Toshiba
  • Xiaomi

The consumer technology sector includes many of the most globally successful companies. So it’s no surprise that the top four companies are also in the top 25 list: Adobe, Microsoft, Samsung and Nikon.

Adobe emerged on top even though it is not the language leader; Microsoft leads with 43 languages.

But Adobe leads in global navigation and consistency. Shown below is the Japanese home page, which shares the same global template with most other country websites:

adobe_jp

 

In the footer is the global gateway link, as indicated by the map icon. I recommend upgrading this icon into the header to improve findability. I also recommend using a generic globe icon.

adobe_gateway_footer

Clicking on the map icon brings up an effective global gateway menu overlay. Notice how the country/region names are in the local languages. I call this a “universal” global gateway because it can be used across all localized websites (instead of supporting a separate menu for each local website):

adobe_gateway

Adobe also makes good use of geolocation to help determine which localized website users prefer. For example, if a user in Ecuador inputs Adobe.com, he or she is taken to the .com English-language website but presented with this overlay that lets the user know there is also a Spanish-language site available.

adobe_geolocation

This way, users remain in control but also made aware of localized websites. To learn more about geolocation strategies, check out Geolocation for Global Success.

Adobe also one of a growing number of companies that make use of user-facing machine translation to allows users to self-translate content. Here is a screen shot from the user forums. While the execution could be more user friendly, the feature itself is something more companies should be supporting (and many are currently testing):

adobe_forum_translation

On a separate note, I wanted to highlight the mobile home page for Nikon.

Notice the globe icon in the header. Nikon is one of the few consumer tech websites to include a global gateway link in the header of its mobile website.

nikon_mobile

To learn more, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.