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.
China’s Alibaba is the creator (and exporter) of this one-day ecommerce extravaganza that takes place on 11/11.
And despite being a one-day event the pre-promotion is in full effect.
According to brandchannel, Alibaba is intent to set new records this year by expanding beyond China’s border. Its long-term goal is two billion shoppers, so they have no choice but to look outside mainland China. This year they’ve recruited Katy Perry as their spokesperson.
Amazon recently launched Prime in China. But Amazon is just a blip compared to Alibaba.
Costco has been a partner for several years and apparently did 3.5 million in sales two years ago. Here is their Tmall home page. Costco does not even have a localized website for China — just a Tmall site, which is effectively the same thing when it comes to China. The benefit of a Tmall site is that you’re hosted within the country, bypassing the great firewall. And you get built-in marketing and support from Alibaba.
Now, will Singles Day take off in the US?
When it comes to ecommerce, I’d say anything is possible. We Americans love any opportunity to shop. And perhaps with the growing backlash against Black Friday, this will one day become the next big shopping day.
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.