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Peak flag: The decline of flags on websites has begun

I’m pleased to say that, based on the websites I study regularly, we’ve reached “peak flag.” In other words, at a high level, companies are now beginning to move away from using flags on their websites within their global gateways.

This is a good thing.

On a personal level, I love flags. But from a usability perspective, flags often cause more problems than they solve.

Companies that have stopped using flags on their websites over the years include:

  • Delta Airlines
  • General Electric
  • Google
  • Marriott
  • Siemens

To name just a few.

Apple global gateway

And, yes, I’m well aware that Apple still uses flags. I do believe that Apple will drop flags as the risks far outweigh the rewards.

To learn 10 reasons why you should remove flags from your website, check out my report FLAG FREE, which is also included with the Web Globalization Report Card.

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It’s time for your website to go flag free

If you are flying the Taiwan flag on your website, consider yourself warned.

By China.

As I’ve written many times over the past year, China is paying close attention to how multinationals refer to Taiwan on their websites, not just textually but visually. And this includes the global gateway.

But the fact is, flags are completely unnecessary in global gateways — not just the Taiwan flag but any flag. And now is a very good time to extricate flags from your website.

Flag free means frustration free.

I’ve published a new report that details the many reasons for removing flags from your website; it also includes examples of websites that have gone flag free, including Costco, Google, Sanofi and Siemens.

This report is included free with all purchases of the 2018 Web Globalization Report Card.

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The slowly evolving airline website

I enjoyed this vision of the future of an airline website (by Fantasy Interactive), particularly this map of fares and destinations:

airline website mockup

Why haven’t other airlines embraced this vision yet?

Probably because most haven’t even figured out how to make their booking engines as user friendly as Kayak.com.

KLM appears to be headed in this direction with its new design (currently in beta in Oman).

Here’s a screen grab of the booking engine:

klm_oman

It’s a clean, functional design that gives you a nice view of fares across a period of time.

Amazing how something so simple remains so elusive across so many airline websites.

KLM came out on top as the best global airline website in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

It leads the airline category with support for 27 languages (Delta, American, Emirates all support fewer than 20 languages).

And yet KLM still trails travel websites such as Hotels.com, Kayak, and Booking.com.

These virtual websites have exerted pressure on airlines and hotels and rental car companies to focus more on user experience.

It’s ironic that airline websites are finally becoming more user friendly just as the airplanes themselves have never been less user friendly (for those of us in coach).