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Succeeding in the Translation Economy

Here is an article I wrote that was recently published in tcworld magazine.

In it, I define the “translation economy” and the opportunities (and challenges) it presents to all organizations.

From the information economy to the translation economy
The internet connected the world’s computers, and the digitization of content enabled the rapid flow of information around the world, which drove several decades of what came to be known as the information economy. But one of the great myths of the information economy – and the World Wide Web, for that matter – was the idea that a company could go global simply by launching a website. While the Internet connects computers, it is language that connects people, and the information economy has for too many years exhibited an English-language bias.

Read more…

And for much more on the translation economy, check out Think Outside the Country.

Also now available in Japanese!

 

 

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Nike improves its global gateway

Nike made an important improvement to its global gateway over the past year that I want to draw your attention to.

First, let’s take a look at the home page, circa 2015:

nike_com_2015

If you look closely at the bottom of the web page, to the left, you’ll see the American flag — the link to the global gateway menu.

Clearly, this is not the most visible location for a global gateway. Footers are for legalese and other garbage — not for your most important global navigation interface.

Fortunately, Nike has since promoted the gateway link to the header, as shown here today:

nike_2016

As the flag itself, I recommend using a globe icon instead, alongside the locale name.

But progress is progress and the promotion of the global gateway into the header is one reason why Nike made it into the top 25 best global websites.

For more information, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

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The top 25 global websites of 2016

Web Globalization Report Card 2016

 

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

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card and, with it, the top 25 websites:

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Hotels.com
  5. NIVEA
  6. Booking.com
  7. Nestlé
  8. Pampers
  9. Adobe
  10. Intel
  11. Twitter
  12. Microsoft
  13. American Express
  14. BMW
  15. 3M
  16. Hitachi
  17. Starbucks
  18. Nike
  19. Samsung
  20. Cisco Systems
  21. Nikon
  22. TNT
  23. Philips
  24. Autodesk
  25. ABB

It’s hard to believe that this is the twelfth edition of the Report Card. Over the past decade I’ve seen the average number of languages supported by global brands increase from just 10 languages to 30 languages today.

And, of course, the top 25 websites go well beyond 30 language. Google supports  90 languages via Google Translate and 75 languages on YouTube. And Facebook stands at 88 languages.

But it’s not just languages that make a website succeed globally. Companies need to support fast-loading mobile websites, locally relevant content, and user-friendly navigation.

Notable highlights among the top 25:

  • Wikipedia is far and away the language leader, with content in more than 270 languages. The company also now supports a mobile-friendly layout that is considerably lighter (in kilobytes) than most Fortune 100 mobile websites.
  • NIVEA provides an excellent example of a company that localizes its models for local websites — one of the few companies to do so.
  • Nike made this top 25 list for the first time, having added languages and improved global consistency and navigation.
  • As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 52 languages.

For 2016, we studied 150 websites across 15 industry categories — and more than 80% of the Interbrand Best Global Brands. Websites were graded according to languages supported, global navigation, global and mobile website architecture, and localization.

Congratulations to the top 25 websites!

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Notes from Singles Day 2015

And so it has begun: The world’s biggest online shopping day.

In China.

More than $9 billion dollars was spent this day last year and experts are forecasting a number well north of that this year.

As I’ve been doing for the past few years, I’ve collected a few screen grabs of localized websites in China. Here are the latest:

Nike

singles_day_nike

Continue reading Notes from Singles Day 2015

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Web localization in the Year of the Sheep

I enjoying watching how Western companies localize their websites and products to capitalize on Chinese New Year — the Year of the Sheep (or Goat).

Like this gift card from Starbucks China:

starbucks_chinese_giftcard

And this  hero image on the Microsoft China home page:

microsoft-year-of-sheep

And Nike has put together a color-appropriate assortment of products:

nike-chinese-new-year

Happy New Year!

chompers

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Amazon pluralizes Singles Day

Leave it to Amazon to turn Single Day plural.

And why not. If we can extend Black Friday to Cyber Monday, why not extend Singles day an extra day?

Here’s a screen grab of the Amazon China home page (note that the sale begins on 11/10):

amazon_singles day

Nike is sticking with one day, for now. Here’s a Singles Day promotion  its China website:

Nike_Singles_Day_Lebron

And here’s more about this epic shopping day from TechinAsia.

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How Nike localizes “football”

In the US, football season has officially begun (there goes my weekends).

But outside of the US, football season means something entirely different.

So how does a global sporting goods company like Nike manage this heavily weighted word?

Here are two screen grabs from Nike’s new navigation menu:

Nike US

Nike UK

Nike uses the same word but simply changes the icon.

Certainly removes any ambiguity from the word ‘football.’

 

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Entering the Nike “language tunnel”

Nike has a brand new website and they’ve made a few navigational changes along the way.

For starters, it appears that Nike is now using geolocation to detect the location of the user’s browser.

This means Nike is no longer using a default global gateway landing page, which is a good thing.

The bad thing is that the global gateway menu link has been buried at the bottom of a very long home page, right below the contact into:

If you click the link you’ll be taken to the “language tunnel” — note the URL:

I’ve never heard of the gateway page referred to as a tunnel, but in some respects it is one.

And given how Nike has buried the gateway link, the tunnel metaphor applies nicely (I’m kidding, of course; I never recommend burying the gateway link).

In fact, because Nike now uses geolocation it’s particularly important to make the gateway easy to find. Because now you’re performing some behind-the-scenes magic that users might want to override.

As for the global gateway menu itself, it is cleanly designed and extensible, though placing the US and UK at the top of the lists shows an unfortunate cultural bias.