This book is the result of the past decade spent working with marketing and web teams around the world. I’ve long wanted to have something I could pass along that would demystify the process of product or website globalization and provide insights into languages, cultures and countries. Such as Brazil:
Too often people get overwhelmed by the complexity of it all, not to mention bewildering lingo and acronyms such as FIGS (French, Italian, German Spanish) and L10n (localization). What I always tell people is that you don’t have to speak a half-dozen languages to succeed in this field, but you do have to know what questions to ask. Hopefully this book will help.
The book is now available through Amazon or by request from any local bookstore. You can learn more here.
PS: If you’d like to order multiple copies for your teams, quantity discounts are available. Simply contact me using this form.
Think Outside the Country is isn’t strictly about taking a website or mobile app global, though you’ll find plenty of real-world examples about how to do just that. Ultimately, this book is about taking yourself global. It’s about providing an understanding of the globalization process along with country and cultural insights so you know what questions to ask when you’re asked to, say, introduce a product into a new market or launch a global marketing campaign.
This book is intended for people who want to help their organizations expand into new markets as efficiently as possible without any embarrassing or costly mistakes. And this book is about showing respect for the people who live in these markets.
You won’t speak every language, understand every culture. And that’s okay. Nobody knows everything. But we can all know a little bit about a lot. More important, we can know what questions to ask. This book will help.
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.
Lululemon provides an interesting case study of a US-based retailer taking its first steps towards going global.
And, like all first steps, this one is rather awkward.
To be clear, Lululemon is only focused on shipping globally, which is a nice feature for English-speaking customers around the world. But I wish the website made this explicitly clear, so that web users who don’t speak English don’t waste their time with the tool highlighted below.
What I’m going to show here isn’t a conventional global gateway because Lululemon supports only an English-language website. But I would suspect that a fair number of international web users may think it will take them to a localized website. The flag, I think, is part of the problem. A user could see the flag and think that this is a global gateway he or she must navigate.
But it’s not an easy gateway to navigate — it’s frustratingly open ended. The gateway link is located well down the home page — not quite in the footer but close:
Clicking on the country name brings up the “Type Your Country” input box.
Here’s where things get interesting.
If I enter “China” I find that my country is supported. This is a fine if I’m an English speaker in China.
But what if I enter Chinese text? This is what I see:
Now one could argue that by only supporting Latin text input you’re doing a better job of managing language expectations because there is no translation of text available. Nevertheless, a basic text menu of supported countries would be a better solution than this open-ended input form — and certainly a less resource-intensive approach.
This gateway reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer plays the Moviefone guy:
On a very positive note, the website uses geolocation to guest the user’s preferred target country. Shown here is the message that a user in Germany sees:
It’s in English, naturally, so I’m not sure all users will find this approach user friendly.
But, like I said, this is a first step toward going global.