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.
Out of these websites Tiffany emerged on top, largely because of its investment in global ecommerce.
Most luxury brands have been late to embrace ecommerce and, even now, have a long ways to go in terms of web localization and usability.
These websites average only 10 languages, which is a major reason why they lag most other global websites. And global navigation is also a problem for most websites, as is support for mobile devices.
But Tiffany is the leader in this category in global navigation. Tiffany uses geolocation to ensure that you are directed to your localized website, assuming it’s available. It displays the following overlay to first-time visitors:
Here is the same overlay, localized for German website visitors to the same .com domain:
This may seem like a minor detail, but it makes a significant impact to customer experience and ultimate conversion.
Tiffany also supports a mobile-friendly website design, though the gateway is poorly located in the footer. Burberry also buries its global gateway link in the footer, as shown here on the German home page:
For users who don’t speak German, this gateway link is not going to be easy to find. A globe icon would greatly improve usability — something that fashion brands have yet to implement.
In terms of global reach, Tiffany is tied for number one in languages with Hermès. But fashion brands still are not even halfway to reaching the baseline for “global” websites. As shown here, the average number of languages supported by the leading global brands is now 30:
As luxury brands embrace ecommerce, they must also embrace fundamental global usability practices, such as user friendly global gateways, support for country codes, fast-loading mobile websites, and depth of localized content.
I visited the home page of the Chinese online travel agency website Ctrip recently and came across this odd flag:
Just because the UK voted to separate from the EU doesn’t mean that it’s considering a merger with the United States (the last I checked).
Seriously, I understand why companies use this hybrid flag—as an all-purpose English icon. But it fails to achieve that goal because flags are not synonymous with language. And, as icons go, people generally don’t like to see their national flags chopped up or merged with other flags.
A better approach is to avoid using any flag at all and simply use “English.”