Web Site Review: Dura Automotive

We received a press release this week from DURA Automotive Systems regarding their Web globalization efforts. Here is an excerpt:

With locations in more than 14 countries, Web-based communication transcending the barrier of language is critical for DURA Automotive Systems. Developing and maintaining a Web site for multiple languages can, however, be a time intensive and costly endeavor. With the development of a Web-based administrative tool by Logic Solutions of Ann Arbor, visitors to DURA’s website will be able to view the website in the language of their choice simply by selecting it from a dropdown menu. And, more importantly, DURA will have seven or eight dynamic Web sites with the maintenance of one.

First Comment: This press release was issued prematurely.

According to this release, Logic Solutions is providing both a software tool to help DURA manage the eight sites more easily and a navigation tool that will help visitors to the site easily find their specific locale. Yet when we visited the site, there was no navigation tool to be found. Here is the home page:

dura_us.gif

Although the administrative tools may very well be in place, the navigation aid for visitors is absent. For example, to get to the German site (shown below) we had to input the URL directory: www.duraauto.de.

dura_de.gif

Second Comment: A global template will ease the management burden.

We still need to learn more about the backend management tools. Yet just by looking at the English and German sites we see widely different layouts. Should DURA adopte a global template, it could save significantly in maintenance costs because promotional blurbs and visuals can be prepared to fit globally consistent layouts.

Final Comment: Translation firms beware; Web development firms are coming!

It is interesting to note that these Web globalization tools were prepared by a Web development firm and not a localization or translation firm. As more companies invest in global sites, we expect more Web development and integration firms to enter the fray.

What has long been the domain of the translation industry could be co-opted by other industries. That’s not to say that translation firms don’t have an important role to play; they do. But the question is: will translation firms be kept behind the scenes as low-end vendors, or will they become valuable business consultants? My gut says that most translation firms will not move up this value chain (more on this in 2004).

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