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.
Remember not very long ago when social media experts were preaching the value of a Facebook page over a website?
It was not uncommon to be told to dump your website altogether in favor of a Facebook page and Twitter feed. Why bother with HTML when you you could simply hashtag your way to global success?
My how times have changed.
I find it telling that, according to Marketing Land, Super Bowl ads displayed website URLs over hashtags for the first time in several years:
Perhaps hashtags aren’t as a sexy as they once were.
And Facebook is not the generous landlord it once was; anyone who wants to get their message out to all followers is going to have to pay to do so. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned in only 6% of those Super Bowl ads.
And what about mobile apps? Remember when everyone needed one?
According to ComScore, people only use about 25 apps a month, while they will visit 100 websites. So if you’re not among those top 25 mobile apps, you’re far better off investing in your website.
Websites continue to be the best bang for your marketing dollar. Not just in the United States but around the world.
I’m hard at work on the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card and I’ve noticed an increasing number of companies asking visitors to join their mailing list. I believe email was dead once as well not very long ago.
Email is still here. So are websites. The more things change the more things stay the same.
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.