Amazon’s uneven (and not unusual) language strategy

Amazon Crossing is the Amazon publishing imprint dedicated to translating non-English books into English. In just a few years it has grown to be a leading translator of literary novels.

I noted earlier that Amazon.in doesn’t significantly support Indian languages. But on the Amazon Crossing submission page, you will find support for Hindi, Bengali and Punjabi. The global gateway is shown below on the right:

The gateway is (sadly) missing a globe icon — though I suspect the Amazon Crossing logo is partly to blame (one globe too many perhaps).

Other languages supported include Arabic, Portuguese and Russian. What’s interesting here is that the language mix is noticeably different on the Amazon.com site.

Both Amazon.com and Amazon Crossing support 13 languages in addition to English as noted in the 2017 Report Card, which means Amazon still has a long ways to go before it competes with the leaders in languages. Here is the average number of languages supported by the leading global brands over the past seven years.

But what I wanted to call attention to is Amazon’s uneven support for languages across its different products and services — a phenomenon that is not unique to Amazon. Many multinationals I work with support different language mixes for different properties. The rationale is sound: Different products and services have different audiences, marketing strategies, global and regional partners, and local opportunities.

But how do you balance an uneven language strategy with a consistent global content architecture? For example, let’s say you have one product page localized into Russian and a visitor to that product page goes to the global nav menu and selects another product, naturally assuming this other product also is also localized into Russian, only to discover it is not.

This problem is only going to grow more acute as more companies decentralize their global product content and marketing strategies.

Of course, every challenge is also an opportunity. Where companies can differentiate themselves is in how effectively they manage user expectations, manage language expectations, and how they leverage machine translation to fill language gaps.

To learn more about which companies are doing the best job at managing language expectations, check out the Web Globalization Report Card.

KPMG: The best global professional services website of 2017

For the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card, we benchmarked the following professional services websites:

  • Accenture
  • Capgemini
  • Deloitte
  • Ernst & Young
  • KPMG
  • PWC

Over the past 18 months, KPMG, Deloitte, and PwC all launched new web designs. In addition, these websites continue to improve in not just creating locally relevant content but promoting this content on the local websites.

This year, KPMG narrowly edged out PwC, based on its very slight lead in languages. Both KPMG and PwC also made it into the top 25 list of best global websites.

Let’s take a look at how KPMG improved its website over the past year, beginning with the new design, which is now fully responsive and globally consistent:

A year before, the website was not fully responsive, and the global gateway relied on a cumbersome pull-down menu that listed all countries, shown here:

The new global gateway could still use some improving. Instead of linking to the full global gateway menu (shown below), the gateway provides a link to a one (or a few) suggested locales. Shown here is what a US-based visitor sees:

And here is what a Ukrainian-based visitor sees:

The goal here is to provide a “toggle” of sorts between languages or related locales. But I’d recommend the toggle be made visible in the header instead. Then you can use a globe icon to link to the full global gateway menu for those visitors who wish to navigate to entirely different locale.

On mobile devices, the global gateway remains in the header — which is excellent to see.

However, KPMG uses a different icon, one that could be viewed as a “location” icon. As I note in the Report Card, this icon is often used to find a physical location, as in a nearby store, so it’s possible that users won’t click on it intuitively to find their local content.

To learn more, check out the 2017 Report Card.

PS: All purchasers of the Report Card receive signed copies of Think Outside the Country, among other goodies.

Nissan: The best global automotive website of 2017

For the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied the following 14 automotive websites:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Chevrolet
  • Ford
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Land Rover
  • Lexus
  • Mercedes
  • Mini
  • Nissan
  • Tesla
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen

Historically, automotive websites have been strong on languages but weak on global consistency and global navigation. And while most automotive websites continue to struggle on these fronts, I was pleased to see Nissan’s new global website design, a big reason why Nissan emerged number one for the first time.

BMW was the leader last year, with support for 41 languages and average global consistency. But Nissan’s new web design is more consistent and generally exhibits greater depth of localization. While many automakers do exhibit some degree of global consistency within a region, such as within Europe, it’s rare to see global consistency across regions. Shown below are Nissan’s Germany and Brazil home pages:

You’ll find few automotive websites that support consistency to this degree between these two distinct markets.

Nissan added a language last year and is now is tied with Honda for the lead in languages, at an impressive 46 languages. Nissan also stands apart in its support for local-language social feeds. For instance, here is an excerpt from the Spain home page:

 

When it comes to global navigation, sadly, no automotive website stands apart. Nissan, like many companies, incorrectly relies on flags. But it does do a very good job of supporting country codes.

What’s the best global website among American-based automotive companies? That would be Chevrolet. While many GB brands are, globally speaking, a mess, Chevrolet does exhibit a number of global best practices. It also does a good job of supporting Spanish for the US market:

Tesla was a new addition to the Report Card this year. And while the website does support strong global consistency, it lags in languages and in global navigation — also relying heavily on flags. Here’s the global gateway:

Hyundai finished last in our ranking this year, with low scores across the board, with the exception of global reach (languages). Note that Hyundai supports an impressive 43 languages, which goes to show that languages alone do not make for a successful global website.

Automotive companies are highly decentralized organizations with independent web teams and budgets, which often results in websites that share few design elements across country/region websites. But Nissan has taken a promising step forward, one that I believe other automakers are sure to follow.

For more information, check out the Web Globalization Report Card. It includes more than 25 pages of automotive website profiles.