Before the internet, companies needed to jump through many different hoops to bring their products or services to clients in other areas of the world. Today, reaching a global audience can be as easy as setting up a website that can be viewed across the world.
But while a global webpage makes it easy to get your name in front of a larger audience, it doesn’t guarantee your message will convert.
Running a global website has some challenges. When your clients speak different languages, have different needs and require different check-out processes, you need to work hard to ensure everyone is properly taken care of. If you’re hoping to reach global clients through the web, here are a few tips and tricks you should implement.
When your global clients come to your website, they want to be able to select the page that fits their needs. Instead of trying to direct clients to the page you think will fit them based on their geographical location, present them with a list of country options they can select from.
Ikea is one of the best examples of a website that does this. When you come to the Ikea homepage, you’re presented with the country option that fits the user’s geographic location, but you’re also given the option to select another country. This is ideal for customers who may be traveling or want to know what options are available in other areas.
While Google can translate your web copy, they do not yet have the capabilities to translate text on your images. If you upload an image with a caption, your visitors will see the original language, regardless of their geographical location or language selection. This means you need to manually upload a different version of the image if you want it to appear in the appropriate language for different pages.
To save time and ensure each user is getting the best experience, keep your image text to a minimum. If an image doesn’t need a caption, leave it off. Putting the text elsewhere lets Google take control of the translation, ensuring your visitors can read everything on your page.
Just as you should give your visitor the option to select which country’s page they would like to view, you should also present them with different language choices to improve their experience. While you can have your page automatically display the language of the country the visitor is in, travelers or residents who prefer a different language may want to see a change.
Worldwide Supply presents their visitors with a variety of different languages to choose from. They make it easy for users to select a different language with their “Switch Language” button right in the header. This ensures visitors don’t leave because they cannot read the web content.
If you work with global clients, consider the various ways they communicate with you. While a local or national company may only need one phone number, an international website may need specific phone numbers for the different countries they serve.
Achieve 3000 provides a solid example of simple connection. Because they present just two phone numbers — one for United States customers and one for International customers — there is no confusion about who the individual should call. They also provide times the individual can call to speak with a customer support specialist.
In the United States, businesses are always trying to keep customers on their sites as long as possible. Because many individuals have access to the web at home, work or in public places, Americans have time and resources to waste on the web.
But this isn’t the case with individuals in other countries. They may have limited access to the Internet, or they may need to pay high prices for data. If your website is difficult for them to access, you could be missing those customers. Keeping your international pages simple or providing an alternative, such as plain text, can solve this problem.
Different colors can have different significance across countries. While a color scheme may be strong for the United States, those same colors may be off-putting or offensive in another. Keeping your color scheme simple or varied from page to page can help you avoid pushing clients away because of your color choices.
Nike does a great job of keeping their colors simple while selecting your location. With only black, white and gray images to portray the different areas they do business in, Nike doesn’t need to worry about a customer disapproving of their color scheme.
Launching a global website isn’t as easy as setting up a page that can be accessed anywhere in the world. If you want to keep your global clients happy with their web experience, consider the various ways your site may be presented globally.
These six tips are just the beginning, and there are other tips and tricks out there. For example, if you decide to not let visitor choose their country of origin, you can also automatically serve content based on language and localization with a 302 redirect or hreflang implementation.
While implementing these ideas can set you up for a successful global website, keep the unique needs of your audience in mind. Listen to their suggestions and implement those ideas.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner