Big brands go to great lengths to create user-friendly, multilingual websites – Why? Because it increases profitability, encourages brand trust, ensures customer satisfaction and helps convert potential customers into definite sales.
If you’re planning, or developing a multilingual website, the tips below will ensure you get it right.
1. Create a Consistent Global Brand
No matter where your customers are located in the world, they should be able to enjoy the same experience when visiting your website.
Your brand message should remain consistent around the globe, inducing the desired emotion in customers and inciting the same response.
Aim for consistency in each language version of your website so that the overall impression is similar no matter which site is accessed. This way, if an English language-speaking customer stubbles across your Arabic language site while on holiday in Dubai, they will know they are on the right site and how to navigate to the language of their choice.
By using a global template, you can encourage a consistent brand expression for all sites.
However, each website should be localized for regional differences in language, currencies and cultural expectations while still maintaining an overall consistency.
2. Localize Currencies for Easy Purchasing and Shipping
For ecommerce sites, it is especially vital to localize currencies, but you should also consider address formats and shipping information.
A customer based in France doesn’t want to convert dollars into euros at the checkout, or have issues completing their order because their address or phone number format isn’t recognized by your website.
When planning and designing your multilingual site, consider the impact these issues may cause and allow for adaption in each location or language.
Remember, date formats and time will alter too based upon location of the user.
Allow for changes such as, time zones, 12/24-hour clock and date formats (the UK uses day/moth/year but Arabic sites use month/day/year), so customers have very different expectations dependant upon the cultural norms.
These problems are solved quickly with professional localization services and give a better user experience.
3. Be Culturally Appropriate
So, while your home-language website might have graphics that are acceptable to your original audience, this doesn’t mean they will be universally appreciated.
For instance, blue is considered by many Western cultures to be calming, yet in Iran, it is the colour of mourning.
Even a symbol as innocuous as the globe can be considered offensive, especially if it highlights one region above another depending upon the perspective.
Use symbols only for functionality and check for any discrepancies in different regions.
The same applies to colour, images, and photographs – localize for each region where needed and use advance planning for multiple cultures to avoid offence.
4. Create Flexible User Interface Designs
The first point worth noting here is that many languages expand when translated from English. In some cases, this can be by as much as 30%, so it can really affect how the text on your site is displayed.
Similarly, elements such as, site navigation menus, call-to-action buttons and other factors can all alter depending upon region.
Creating a flexible UI design might mean making allowances for text expansion in advance, for instance, with call-to-action buttons you can make them larger than the original English-language button, or seek help from a Language Services Provider (LSP) that uses desktop publishing specialists during the localization process.
This list is by no means a comprehensive one. There are many factors to consider when designing websites for multilingual audiences and in order to ensure the best results, it is well worth contacting a professional language services provider who can advise you on the specifics related to your project.
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