I’m a strong advocate for “global gateways.” A global gateway is the term I used to refer to the navigation system that directs users to their language-specific or locale-specific Web sites. Once you offer more than one language or locale, you’re going to need a gateway. (Here’s our report on the topic.)
To understand the importance of the global gateway, I recommend visiting a Web site that offers multiple languages. Start with the Web page of a language you do not speak and see how easy it is to get to the English-language site. Here’s a good test site: the Danish company TDC. Currently, the link to the English-language site is effectively buried. I’ve also included an excerpt below in case the site gets redesigned.
As you can see the “English” link is located on the very bottom of the page. Only the most persistent visitor will be fortunate enough to find it.
Amazon uses a similar strategy:
Unfortunately, most Web sites — even the most locally usable Web sites — have a long way to go in creating globally usable Web sites.