NOTO, as in No Tofu

First of all, I love tofu.

But when you see it on a computer screen, it’s not so nice.

Like those two rows of “tofu-shaped” objects shown below that indicate a missing font:


Tofu used to be a much bigger problem ten years ago, back when fonts are strictly aligned with different character sets and computers shipped with very limited font families. Today, computers and phones ship with system fonts that can natively display a significant number of languages.

Nevertheless, as websites support more and more languages, the need for fully world-ready fonts will only grow.

So it’s nice to see Google investing in creating open-source font faces to support the world’s languages.

This font family is called NOTO (as in no tofu).


A package of all 100+ fonts weighs more than 470MB.

Instead, you might pick and choose which language/script you wish to support:


This post is brought to you by the Multilingual Eye Chart.


Tiffany: The best luxury website of 2016

This year, we benchmarked the following seven luxury websites for the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card:

  • Burberry
  • Cartier
  • Gucci
  • Hermès
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Tiffany

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:

Average number of languages supported by leading global websites: 2016 Web Globalization Report Card
Average number of languages supported by leading global websites: 2016 Web Globalization Report Card

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.

2016 Report Card

More than half of the leading global websites support Thai

Excerpted from the <a href="">Internationalized Domain Names</a> poster
Excerpted from the Internationalized Domain Names poster

Following up on my previous post, I was asked just how prevalent Thai is on the leading global brands.

According to the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, Thai is now seen on 54% of the websites studied.


Among the websites that support Thai are:

  • Air France
  • Airbnb
  • Coca-Cola
  • Dyson
  • Emirates
  • Expedia
  • Ford
  • Hertz
  • Hilton
  • Honeywell
  • IKEA
  • John Deere
  • Kayak
  • Lenovo
  • Lexus
  • MUJI
  • PayPal
  • Twitter
  • Uber
  • Visa

Not all of these websites have “gone dark” in mourning, such as Dyson:


Contrast that with HP:


For more information on best practices in web localization, check out the 2016 Report Card


WordPress reaches 50 languages as it expands into India

This blog began more than a decade ago when WordPress was available in English only.

WordPress is now available, fully translated, in 50 languages, in impressive achievement.

Polyglots Team Experiences Record Annual Growth, Expands WordPress’ Reach to Millions with New Translations

One of the latest languages to be added is Gujarati, an Indian languages spoken by more than 60 million people.

I mention this language because I’ve long maintained that companies are going to need to localized in some (if not all) of India’s 20+ official languages. They just don’t know it yet.

Google does. So does Facebook. And now, so does WordPress.

For more about the language leaders of the Internet, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

The Savvy Client’s Guide to Translation Agencies, now in Persian


Make no mistake. The proposed deal between Boeing and Iran Air for 88 jets is a huge deal, not so much in dollars but in symbolism. Because there are many more Western companies lined up eager to strike similar deals in Iran.

While these deals are not without a fair share of risk, there was a time not very long ago when similar statements were made about Russia and China. And, of course, everything could fall apart in an instant (or an election).

Or we could look back a decade from now and wonder what the big deal was. I prefer the latter, which is why I’m pleased to announce that The Savvy Client’s Guide to Translation Agencies is now available in Persian and is for sale in Iran.

Iranian translator Mary Poorglavi translated the book and I recently asked her a few questions about the process and Iran. Here’s what she had to say…

About how long did it take you to translate the book?

You know translating and editing are two separate, but interdependent processes. Therefore, I first translated the book and then edited for three months. Since this was my first publishing experience after 15 years of working as a freelance translator, I did my best to produce a fluent but accurate translation of the book.

What were the most challenging aspects?

The book avoids complicated syntax; therefore, I had no problem in understanding the meaning. However, the most challenging part of the book was related to the cloud model! It was new for me, because in Iran, the traditional TEF (Translating-Editing-Proofreading) model is still used by the translation agencies. To the best of my knowledge, none of translation companies uses this system for localization services and most of them are not familiar with it. Moreover, many freelance translators in Iran do not use even translation memories and are not familiar with them. I think this part of the book should be expanded with more details for those who don’t know what the cloud-based translation system is or how they can use it.


What is the current state of the translation industry in Iran?

Generally, in Iran as a developing country, it is a slow-growing industry. Unfortunately, Iranian LSPs rarely use technology. Nearly all of LSPs in Iran focus on specialized translation and few companies provide localization services by emails! Some other companies use an automated system of registering the project, pricing, translating, and delivery with no use of term banks or translation memory integrated in their websites (or no use of cloud-based translation system management) and depend only on the knowledge of freelancers. However, recently, some associations and institutes have been established to organize  translation agencies.

Have you seen signs of translation industry growth over the past year as Iran has worked to open up its markets to Western companies?

After terminating sanctions, a very limited number of LSPs are slowly preparing themselves to offer services to global customers and get their shares of global market opportunities. In my idea, publishing books on introducing translation industry, academic papers focusing on translation industry in Iran, using the newest technologies, holding the conferences on translation industry and the importance of the presence in global markets, revising the related policies may help the industry to grow faster.

For those of us who would like to visit Iran, what sights do you most recommend visiting?

Iran is known as a four-season country with many attractions. In Tehran, Golestan Palace and Niavaran Palace are among many beautiful and charming attractions; in Isfahan, there is Naqsh-e Jahan Square known as Imam Square, and in Shiraz, Eram Garden and Persepolis are worth visiting.