News in 43 Languages

The BBC has long been the global news leader. It has also invested heavily in Web globalization — offering the news in 43 languages:

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Now to give you some idea of how significant an undertaking this is, most major multinational corporations have yet to offer Web sites in more than a dozen languages. Even FedEx, with 65 “localized” sites, still only offers about 12 or 13 different languages in all. Here is the BBC’s “global gateway” to all those language-specific news sites:

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Notice how the BBC uses both a pull-down menu and text links. The challenge with offering Web sites in languages such as Persian, Chinese and Urdu is that you can’t just assume that most Web users have the necessary fonts installed on their systems to properly view the text. Yet you want non-English speaking users to quickly see their languages represented, without having to navigate through a pull-down menu. So the BBC wisely embeds the links to these sites within graphics, so the average global user can view the global gateway properly. It’s not a perfect solution – as some non-Latin languages are hidden in the pull-down menu – but it’s better than most. Watching how an organization manages all those languages simultaneously provides a glimpse into the future of Web development and some good ideas today for the rest of us.

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