The top 25 global websites of 2016

Web Globalization Report Card 2016

 

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card and, with it, the top 25 websites:

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Hotels.com
  5. NIVEA
  6. Booking.com
  7. Nestlé
  8. Pampers
  9. Adobe
  10. Intel
  11. Twitter
  12. Microsoft
  13. American Express
  14. BMW
  15. 3M
  16. Hitachi
  17. Starbucks
  18. Nike
  19. Samsung
  20. Cisco Systems
  21. Nikon
  22. TNT
  23. Philips
  24. Autodesk
  25. ABB

It’s hard to believe that this is the twelfth edition of the Report Card. Over the past decade I’ve seen the average number of languages supported by global brands increase from just 10 languages to 30 languages today.

And, of course, the top 25 websites go well beyond 30 language. Google supports  90 languages via Google Translate and 75 languages on YouTube. And Facebook stands at 88 languages.

But it’s not just languages that make a website succeed globally. Companies need to support fast-loading mobile websites, locally relevant content, and user-friendly navigation.

Notable highlights among the top 25:

  • Wikipedia is far and away the language leader, with content in more than 270 languages. The company also now supports a mobile-friendly layout that is considerably lighter (in kilobytes) than most Fortune 100 mobile websites.
  • NIVEA provides an excellent example of a company that localizes its models for local websites — one of the few companies to do so.
  • Nike made this top 25 list for the first time, having added languages and improved global consistency and navigation.
  • As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 52 languages.

For 2016, we studied 150 websites across 15 industry categories — and more than 80% of the Interbrand Best Global Brands. Websites were graded according to languages supported, global navigation, global and mobile website architecture, and localization.

Congratulations to the top 25 websites!

Starbucks: The best global retail website

For the 2015 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied 10 retail websites:

  • Best Buy
  • Costco
  • GameStop
  • Gap
  • H&M
  • IKEA
  • McDonald’s
  • Staples
  • Starbucks
  • Toys R Us
  • UNIQLO
  • Walmart
  • Zara

Out of those 10 websites, Starbucks emerged as number one. Here is a screen shot from the German site:

starbucks_de

McDonald’s leads the category in languages supported, with 39 (in addition to English), but still lags in regards to global consistency and localization. Starbucks, on the other hands, supports a highly consistency — and responsive — global website, which allows its many locales to focus more on content and local engagement.

Starbucks added Norwegian over the past year.  To get an idea of how Starbucks has expanded globally over the past decade, below are two global gateways.

Here is the global gateway in 2006, displaying just seven localized websites:

starbucks_gateawy_2006

And here is the global gateway today:

starbucks_gateway_2015

Starbucks went all-in with local-language social networks years ago — an effort that has proved quite successful. Though the number of followers of the company’s local-language Facebook pages are considerably fewer than the global page, the level of engagement is higher.

Starbucks also supports a very sophisticated mobile app (though the app still lags most other major global apps in localization). Also lagging is the Starbucks’ global gateway — which has so far been demoted to the footer.

Only Starbucks and IKEA made the top 25 list of best global websites.

Zara and H&M are two other retail websites worth keeping a close eye on in the year ahead.

2015 Web Globalization Report Card

The top 25 global websites from the 2014 Web Globalization Report Card

More than ten years ago I set out to create a report that benchmarked global websites.

I looked at languages supported. I studied the localized websites. I interviewed the executives who managed these sites and learned what was working and what wasn’t working.

And the end result of that work become The Web Globalization Report Card.

There was nothing else around like it. Most companies at the time supported fewer than 5 languages so many executives didn’t even see the need for such a report.

But times have changed. And here I am announcing the leading websites from the 10th edition of the Report Card:

web globalization top 25 websites

Google is no stranger to the top spot. Given the company’s focus on supporting so many languages across so many products, the company didn’t really face much competition this year.

Granted, I still think Google needs to improve its global navigation. I know the company has been working on “harmonizing” its navigation across products, but the “global gateway” remains elusive. And that’s still a work in progress.

But even with this downside, Google remains the leader.

Hotels.com and Facebook more or less held their own over the past year. But there were more interesting developments further down the list.

For example, Starbucks continues to improve its global website, adding languages and modifying its global template. And it remains a leader in local-language social engagement. Its global gateway still needs work though.

NIVEA did much better this year due in large part to its investment in image localization. Check out NIVEA’s many local websites and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s very interesting to see four travel services companies in this list: Hotels.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Kayak. These companies continue to prove that the travel services sector is among the most competitive when it comes to web and mobile globalization.

It’s also worth highlighting companies like Cisco, Philips, IKEA, and Microsoft — all of which have become regulars in the top 25 list, and for good reason.

Did you know the average number of languages supported by these 25 websites is 50? Even if we were to remove Wikipedia, which is a true language outlier (in a good way), the average would still be above 45 languages.

These companies also generally do a very good job with global gateways, support for country codes — as well as backend technologies like geolocation and language negotiation. In other words, they invest in making local content easy to find for users around the world.

They all do an excellent job of supporting consistent global design templates. This is one of the most important web globalization best practices — one that has clearly stood the test of time.

These companies invest more heavily than most companies in localization — which isn’t just about translation. There is support for local-language social platforms, localized ecommerce, customer support, and culture-specific content and promotions.

Congrats to the top 25 companies and the people within them that have long championed web and mobile globalization!

Learn more about the Report Card.

Starbucks in Asia: From serving expats to serving locals

Starbucks in China

Starbucks currently has 19,000 locations of which 11,000 are in the US.

According to this Wall Street Journal Q&A (reg. required), Howard Schultz remains optimistic about Asia:

Outside the U.S., Starbucks is now in 62 countries. “The biggest opportunity we have is clearly in Asia,” he says. So far, there are 1,000 stores in both China and Japan, 16 in India and one in Vietnam. Mr. Schultz hopes to open thousands more in China.

“We’ve been in China now for over a decade,” he says. “The most gratifying thing is, when we first got there, most of our customers were tourists and expats, and now they’re Chinese nationals.”

The Starbucks website finished #14 in our 2013 Web Globalization Report Card — a big improvement over the year before.