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.
The 2017 Web Globalization Report Card
Xerox recently spun off its services unit into a billion-dollar global company known as Conduent.
I took a quick look at the Conduent website to see how world-ready this “global” website had become in its very first iteration. And, spoiler alert, it’s clear that Conduent is only just getting started.
Here’s an excerpt of the home page:
And a close-up of the global gateway, such as it is:
Here’s a close-up of a Twitter excerpt on the home page:
What about mobile? Here’s the home page on a smartphone:
And the mobile menu:
Where’s the global gateway menu you might ask?
So I thought I’d put together a few tips that would be useful to Conduent — and any other company that is on the verge of expanding its website globally.
5 tips for creating a more world-ready website:
- Keep it lightweight. Already, Conduent is loaded with videos and large photographs that add significant “weight” in kilobytes to the web page. When thinking globally, companies need to think about slower mobile networks around the world and make sure that weight limits are in place to allow the website to display and respond quickly on these networks.
- Don’t just respond to mobile devices, respond to mobile customers. It’s nice that the mobile website does not default to animation (like the desktop site) but all we’re seeing now is a scaled-down version of the desktop website. Ideally, the mobile site supports mobile-specific usage scenarios, which isn’t yet evident here. I don’t see the global gateway on the mobile site — a rookie mistake, but one that really does punish mobile users who want to navigate to local content (when that content is available).
- Get your global gateway right the first time. In Conduent’s case, that means losing the American flag. I realize the circled flag is inspired by Apple, but Apple is on the wrong side of history on this one I’m afraid. Instead, Conduent should develop a text-only global gateway menu, which will scale more readily.
- Bake social into the design. Conduent does a nice job of highlighting its Twitter feed on its home page. Going forward, it’s important that Conduent support local-language Twitter (and other social) feeds that can be excerpted on the home page. By doing so, website visitors are more likely to discover the localized feeds and are more likely to engage with you.
- Think local by design content. Social content in the local language is a great beginning. But what about local language blogs and other content? Conduent does support a number of English-language blogs. It will be nice to see these blogs replicated in other markets, managed by local content creators.
For more insights into website globalization, check out the Web Globalization Report Card.
The death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has led to stores running out of black and white clothing as the population mourns its leader in color-appropriate clothing.
What does this mean for website localization?
Consider the Thailand home pages for Apple:
And Coca-Cola has gone black on its social feeds:
Web localization isn’t about creating a localized website and forgetting about it.
It’s about creating a living and breathing website that responds quickly to local events. Web localization is about respect.
To learn more about the leaders in web localization, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.
My latest post for client Pitney Bowes on localizing for Canada.
As they begin their global expansion, American companies often select Canada first under the assumption that the market will be easier to succeed in than more distant and culturally unfamiliar markets such as Germany or Japan.
However, physical and cultural proximity should not be confused with ease of market entry or ease of website localization. Every country is a new market with unique cultures, laws, and ways of doing business. This article highlights a few key tips to consider as you head to the “great white north.”
HTML has long supported the ability to create numbered lists simply by using the <ol><li></li></ol> tags.
But these tags are rather limited if you are developing websites for the world. How, for example, do you support Asian numbering systems?
That’s what the proposed specification CSS Counter Styles Level 3 is intended to address (among other things).
Richard Ishida has created a nifty demo that relies on this feature to dynamically convert between numbering systems.
What’s interesting about the proposed specification is that web developers can rely on predefined counter styles but can also create their own custom counters.