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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).

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The top 25 global websites from the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card

Top 25 global websites of 2013

UPDATE: The 2017 Web Globalization Report Card is now available.

I’m pleased to announce the top-scoring websites from the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card. This is the ninth annual edition of the report and it’s always exciting to highlight those companies that have excelled in web globalization over the years.

Google is no stranger to the top spot, but this is largely because Google has not stood still. With the exception of navigation (a weak spot overall) Google continues to lead not only in the globalization of its web applications but its mobile apps. YouTube, for example, supports a 54-language mobile app. Few apps available today surpass 20 languages; most mobile apps support fewer than 10 languages.

Hotels.com has done remarkably well over the past two years and, in large part, due to its investment in mobile websites and apps. While web services companies like Amazon and Twitter certainly do a very good job with mobile, I find that travel services companies are just as innovative, if not more so.

Philips improved its ranking due to its improved global gateway. And Microsoft and HP also saw gains due to their website redesigns, which also included improved global gateways.

New to the Top 25 this year are Starbucks, Merck, and KPMG.

As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 50 languages. And while this number is skewed highly by Wikipedia and Google, if we were to remove those websites the average would still be above 35 languages.

The companies on this list also demonstrate a high degree of global design consistency across most, if not all, localized websites. This degree of consistency allows them to focus their energies on content localization, which these companies also do well. And more than 20 of the companies support websites optimized for smartphones.

I’ll have more to say in the weeks ahead. You can download an excerpt here.

And if you have any questions at all, just ask.

 

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Emirates: Best global airline web site of 2011

Sometimes a web redesign is a big step forward; sometimes it is a step in reverse.

In the case of American Airlines (when viewed from a web globalization perspective) a recent web redesign resulted in a significant step backwards.

American Airlines came out on top in last year’s Web Globalization Report Card.

But in this year’s Report Card the company slipped several places. Emirates took over the top spot.

Here is the 2011 American Airlines home page:

The new design does feel more user friendly to me. But when you evaluate the web site from a global perspective, there are flaws, such as with global navigation. American Airlines uses a new global gateway that is more cumbersome to use than the previous gateway. It is a two-step menu, shown in detail below.

Imagine you don’t speak English and you were trying to get to the German web site. Would the warning text highlighted in yellow concern or confuse you? It certainly appears ominous to me.

American Airlines also gave up using language negotiation, which is more important than ever before.

To its credit, the new American Airlines web design uses considerably fewer images with embedded text. And though the localized sites still largely support the legacy design, I’m optimistic that by this time next year, global consistency and localizability will have improved.

Now let’s look at Emirates.

Emirates employs one of the best global gateways around. It is easy to use and, by grouping countries by region, presents more manageable lists.

Emirates also supports excellent global consistency across all of its localized sites. And Emirates does not even lead this category in languages. KLM leads with support for 26 languages, followed by Air France at 19.

Airlines in general have much work left to do in expanding breadth of languages. But should Emirates invest in additional languages, it is well positioned to lead this category in the years ahead.

Here are the nine airline sites included in the 2011 Web Globalization Report Card:

  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Continental
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • KLM
  • Ryanair
  • United Airlines