It is becoming much more common for companies to issue press releases after adding another language (or locale) to their Web sites. For example, Swagelok, a maker of “fluid system components,” issued a release last week that said:
Swagelok expanded its scope of multilingual Web sites with the addition of a simplified Chinese site, located at swagelok.com.cn. This site is in addition to the traditional Chinese site available at swagelok.com.tw, as well as English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish sites.
So let’s take a look at this site, shall we? You can visit it at www.swagelok.com.
Below are the English and Chinese home pages:
I like how the site maintains a consistent design across languages. But do you notice any problems? On the lower right-hand corner is an animated graphic that was not localized into Chinese. Animated graphics, typically created using Flash, are not so simple — nor inexpensive — to localize. The company might be wise to consider scrapping visual with embedded text altogether as it expands the numbers of languages it manages.
Here’s another graphic with embedded text:
One other item that is a bit odd. Notice in the global gateway below, how the company added “New!” next to the Chinese links. It’s probably not a good idea to call attention to the fact that you’ve only just gotten around to translating your site for a market with a billion people. Also, it doesn’t serve much value from a usability standpoint; after all, the text isn’t in the native scripts. For various technical reasons, it is not practical to display non-Latin characters within a pull-down menu.
Swagelok might consider creating links to the Japanese and Chinese languages using native scripts, as shown below. This gateway, pulled from the Symantec home page, embeds Japanese, Chinese and Korean scripts within graphics below the pull-down menu so that Web users can view their languages in their native scripts.
Nitpicking aside, I applaud Swagelok for pushing ahead with its Web globalization efforts. I suspect we’re going to see a growing number of similar Web globalization press releases in 2004.