If you want your business to advance into international markets, then it is essential that you have a website that is perceived to be “local” to those that live in your target area. This involves a whole lot more than simply translating text and providing language options. Here, I will introduce some of the most fundamental areas, important for creating a truly “local” website in a foreign market.
1) Use The Correct Format – The translation of a website can be extremely time consuming, not to mention frustrating and problematic. By employing Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), you can keep all local content separate from the actual website design. This allows you to select specific content for your foreign language website without having to create a new page each time. The flow of text can also be changed, which is very helpful if you are working with Arabic or Urdu.
2) Choose Images Carefully – Be aware that something that is funny or insightful in your native country/language, may be perceived as rude, insulting or arrogant in the culture of another country. In addition to this, don’t forget to amend the flow of the pictures when dealing with languages that flow from right to left. A before/after shot can quickly become confusing for those reading the opposite way.
3) Colour Choice Is Important – As with images, different colours can have significantly different meanings in different countries. While white is considered a pure colour in many Western markets, it is actually a colour that represents mourning in China, thus one to be avoided in that region. Try to investigate the local culture before committing to any long term design changes.
4) Language Formatting – Before designing the general layout of your website, consider all the different languages that will be using this template. Many languages have words that differ greatly in length, thus the problem arises whereby text that worked for English, for example, might not necessarily work for a website using Russian text.
5) Keep Your Domain Local – You want potential customers in foreign markets to believe that your company is specific to their region. If you have a marketing company based in the UK with the domain of “www.goodmarketing.co.uk”, then you will probably not get many business enquiries from Japan. If, however, you use the domain “www.goodmarketing.jp”, you will find that most residents of Japan will be more likely to choose your business. An additional option would be to create a sub-domain for your .com website, for example “www.goodmarketing.com/jp”. This also helps to boost you Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as Google’s algorithms take location into account when retuning results.
6) Localize Your Keywords – Optimize your website’s SEO by providing accurate keyword translations for your foreign market website. Often, direct translations of your keywords will not be effective in that language. Some investigation is required to find out the commonly used words for your products.