How To Make Your Website World ReadyMarch 13, 2014 No Comments
Some 45% of international customers purchase goods from overseas retailers, so perhaps it’s no wonder many business owners have international expansion on the top of their priority lists. However, the process of taking a web storefront to the international market can be complex and involved, particularly for businesses that are not well prepared for issues that may crop up. Here are a few steps your business can take to ensure the process will be fast and easy.
In the world of software development, firms have long understood the process of making their products available to the global market is best done in two stages. This same approach works very well with websites.
First, internationalize your website — re-design your page, and re-engineer the underlying software, so you’ll find it easy to localize the website for any particular market. This internationalization process takes care of the “big issues” up front, so expanding into each new local market will be simple, quick, and inexpensive.
Then, once you have a world-ready website, you can proceed with the process of localizing it to each target market.
2. Ensure Your Web Template Will Handle Different Languages
Each new language and local market may come with its own special needs, so it’s critically important to ensure your main web layout is flexible to accommodate them.
For example, translating into European languages can double the length of certain text blocks. Headers and menus therefore must be able to expand as needed so the translated text still looks natural. Asian scripts, on the other hand, may result in shorter text but require a larger font size in order to remain legible.
3. Avoid Text In Images
Embedding text in images prevents users from running your website through Google Translate to translate it themselves, for one. This alone may prevent you from receiving orders from markets which eagerly desire your products but which you have not considered yet. Worse still, however, text in images makes it more difficult and expensive to translate your own website.
While your website translation provider may be able to localize text in graphics using Photoshop, this process is time consuming and therefore expensive. If you have many such images, the process may become impractical. Therefore, instead of placing images in graphics, use style sheets that overlay the necessary text on top of images.
4. Make Your Text Translation-Friendly
While you may want to use specific idioms, jokes, or cultural references to communicate with your home market, it may be worthwhile to prepare a separate English version of your text for translation. The best possible route is known as Simplified English — this is a standardized way of writing which has little ambiguity and is very easy for non-native speakers to read.
Yes, professional translators will likely be able to handle whatever text you currently have. However, by eliminating ambiguity up front, you reduce the odds of unforeseen difficulty later.
5. Calculate The Buyer’s True Costs
One of the largest drivers of abandoned carts in online retail is unforeseen costs. Overseas buyers are always concerned about potentially expensive shipping and import duties. You can reduce their anxiety — and increase their likelihood of purchasing from you — by laying out the full “landed cost” before they buy.
Taxes and import fees can be complex and vary by country, but calculating them on your website is easier than it sounds. Shipping management packages are available from large carriers and other companies which will integrate into your website to figure costs and delivery times.
At the same time, a key part of internationalization is making sure you will be able to deliver globally. Many reputable retailers have been burned by couriers who — it turned out later — were well-known in the local market as unreliable or rough package handlers. On the other hand, many consumers will pay more than you might think to ship a unique item, provided they’re aware of the costs before they click “checkout.”
6. Ensure Your Translation is Excellent
Translating your website text into the local language is the cornerstone of making any website world ready. A poor quality translation will be noticed immediately by potential customers, while an excellent translation helps create the impression you have a lot of experience in that market.
Even if it costs a little extra, insist on a good translation for your website. It will more than pay for itself in increased sales and brand equity.
Once you’ve made your website world ready through internationalization, adapting it for each individual market — localization — is fast and easy. You’ll have solved the major challenges already, all that remains are a few simple steps.
Alex Pejak is an economist currently working on a few projects in Australia. She is interested in topics related to project management and business IT.