Regular readers of this blog know well that I advocate for a global gateway icon on websites and apps — a visual element that lets users know, regardless of their language, where to find the global gateway menu.
I recommend using a globe icon because it displays well in small sizes, can be made geographically neutral (see below) and communicates its meaning across all languages.
I’ve noticed over the past year more and more companies making use of the globe icon.
Here is one:
And here is the Netflix global gateway (not well positioned, however):
Both of these icons are geographically neutral.
As opposed to this icon, used by GM in its header:
To learn how to make the best use of a global gateway icon along with geolocation, check out Geolocation for Global Success.
DeWalt greets visitors with a pull-down global gateway shown here:
This type of landing page is not ideal in this day and age.
Using geolocation (see Geolocation for Global Success), DeWalt could take the user directly to the localized website and display an overlay asking the user to confirm or change locale setting. But this is not the main reason I’m writing about DeWalt.
The menu shows a clear preference in favor of visitors from the USA.
Let’s suppose you’re visiting from the UK — you’ve got a bit of scrolling ahead of you. Not only that, you (and everyone else) is now acutely aware that DeWalt displays a bias in favor of its American visitors.
So what’s the solution?
I suggest avoiding long pull-down menus altogether. There are plenty of global gateway menus that display all options on one page.
For more on global gateways, check out The Art of the Global Gateway and 25 Amazing Global Gateways.
A few things.
First, using flags to indicate language is almost always a mistake.
Second, why are the language names all in English?
Only the “English language” text needs to be in English. The purpose of the gateway is to communicate with speakers of other languages, not just English speakers.
Finally, do we need “Language” at all? I would think not.
It’s nice to see GoDaddy improving its global gateway.
Note the use of the globe icon below to indicate the global gateway menu:
Click on the globe or locale name and you’ll see the following menu:
It’s text-only, easy to read. Simple.
GoDaddy has a long ways to go in regards to web globalization, but this global gateway is a good foundation for growth — which I suspect is on the horizon.
I wrote recently that if you can make your product “translation worthy” the world will follow.
Reading about Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp I went back and did some language crunching.
In December 2012, WhatsApp supported 15 languages. I also noted then that I really liked the company’s global gateway.
Today, WhatsApp supports 35 languages — thanks in large part (or entirely) to a crowd of volunteer translators.
This number of languages is now well above the average number of languages tracked in the Web Globalization Report Card.
Clearly, WhatsApp proved itself to be translation worthy.
And now, with Facebook involved, I would not be surprised to see WhatsApp double its language count over the next year or two. Perhaps WhatsApp will actually start paying for translation now…