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

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.

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!

No Ordinary Disruption: It’s time to reset intuitions

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 5.54.29 PM

I was given a review copy of No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends, which I read over the weekend. The authors are Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel — all directors at the McKinsey Global Institute.

Readers of this blog are not going to be surprised by some of the disruptions highlighted by this book, namely the enormous impact that emerging economies are having on global brands (and future global brands). In fact, I doubt readers will find any of these four disruptive forces to be unique.

But what’s unique is how the book ties these four major forces together in a book that’s packed with insights and anecdotes while remaining free of management-speak.

First, here are the four disruptive forces:

  1. The age of urbanization, creating massive new cities in emerging economies. By 2025, 48 of the largest 200 cities will be in China. This is resulting in a shift in the earth’s economic “center of gravity” back towards Asia. The center of gravity used to be centered over India and China and now it’s headed back again.
  2. Accelerating technological change. It used to take a very long time for a technology to reach “scale” — but now, driven in large part by mobile penetration of smartphones, an application can go from one to 500 million users in less than a year.
  3. Aging populations, placing a greater economic burden on fewer workers. China is a lot like the US in facing a future with fewer workers relative to the number of elderly.
  4. Greater (and more complex) interconnectedness. We’re all more tightly connected than ever before, which is nice if you want to sell your product anywhere in the world, but uncomfortable when you realize anyone else in the world is now a potential competitor.

Don’t expect this book to give you any concrete secrets about how to successfully navigate these forces — the authors rightfully point out that there are just too many variables at play to know exactly what this future world will look like.

What this book excels at is quickly summarizing these forces and the challenges they pose to businesses and policy makers. And using real-world examples to illustrate these forces.

I enjoyed the many visuals included in the book, such as this one, illustrating this shifting of the economic center of gravity:

ScreenHunter_01-Dec.-18-12.15

From a web globalization perspective, a few parts of the book jumped out at me, such as:

  • China’s ecommerce market is now the world’s largest. But this is just one country — globally, well more than a billion people will be joining the “consumer class” over the next decade. And they won’t be based in developed markets.
  • The rise of emerging-market competitors are going to keep legacy multinationals on their toes. I would place Xiaomi in this group — a fast-moving Chinese company with global ambitions.
  • When going global, you should focus on cities and urban centers, not regions or countries. I found this point to be among the most important takeaways for those managing web and product localization. If you consider just how complicated it is to market a product across the United States, with all the many ethnic groups, economic classes, geographic regions, age groups, etc. it’s only logical that you need to think similarly about other countries.

The authors want this book to help you “reset your intuitions” about the world as you know it. For instance, we can’t think of China as a country with two large cities. It’s a country with numerous cities that rival many European countries in population. And we need to be on the lookout for opportunities (and threats) in countries that we may have overlooked in years past. There are a number of African countries, for example, that Chinese companies are now heavily invested in. And companies are learning that products and distribution strategies that succeed in emerging economies often have little in common with what works in more developed economies. These lessons are important to learn earlier than later!

Perhaps the most important message the authors deliver is one of staying curious and adaptable.

These are traits that make successful managers of global websites. After all, we can’t know what’s around the corner with any degree of certainty. But by keeping a curious and open mind you will be prepared to ride these waves as they come along.

The biggest ecommerce day in November? It’s not Black Friday.

In China, November 11th is known as Singles Day and it has quickly become the world’s biggest day for ecommerce.

Tmall, the massive ecommerce website owned by Alibaba is already promoting this day:

tmall_singles_day

Tmall hosts a great number of Western brands that are also eager to capitalize on this day, like Clinique:

Clinique_singles_day

Xiaomi, China’s leading mobile phone company, will most likely sell quite a few phones this day as well.

Singles_Day

Amazon is not content to be a bit player. According to Tech in Asia, Amazon is planning to offer fast international shipping:

…it means that Chinese consumers will be able to shop on Amazon’s US, German, Spanish, French, and Italian stores and have whatever they order shipped directly to China. Amazon China is also launching an “international shopping” feature that should make it more convenient for Chinese customers to shop for goods they want from foreign Amazon shops.

Any retailer serious about succeeding in China cannot ignore Singles Day.

The question is: Will Singles day soon become a global ecommerce day?