Global Gateway Notes

As you know, I’m an active proponent of the “global gateway.” The global gateway refers to the many visual and technical elements that collectively direct Web users to their country- and/or language-specific Web pages.

Whenever I run across a good, bad or just plain weird global gateway, I make sure to take a screen grab. Here are three gateways worth mentioning:

First is the Japanese home page of the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority (don’t ask how I ended up here). This is a great Web page for English speakers who don’t speak a word of Japanese. Why? Because the page features an “English” link in what I refer to as the “sweet spot” of global navigation.


This Web page illustrates just how important a highly visible link — in the user’s native language — is to effective navigation. Had this link been buried at the bottom of the page, I’m not sure I would have found it so quickly, or at all.

Next, we have a not-so-good example of a global gateway. This link, on the Uniden home page, has an informal “Hey you!” feel to it. Worse, the link is provided only in English, which is a slight to French-Canadian speakers.


Finally, we have the gateway from the Exel Web site. It is an animated map that changes appearance based on cursor movement. Fun to look at, but a static map would have been more usable. And Exel could have skipped the text altogether. The global gateway needs to be usable to the widest number of people, which necessitates a more visual and less textual solution.


Know of any gateways that you think are good, bad or just plain weird? Please send us an email at

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