Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Web Sites for Global Audience

Writing Web Sites Global
If you write a Web page and put it up on the World Wide Web, then you have instantly created a globally accessible page. But just because a global audience can get to it, doesn't mean that your page will be understandable globally, and this doesn't mean just language.

Regional Topics
If your page is about a regional specific topic, then make sure you indicate that. Preferably right in the title of the page. Put the region in the keywords and page description as well. This will insure that someone in London, England looking for information on dog kennels won't get frustrated by a kennel Web site that only caters to dog owners in South Africa.
Remember too, that even if your topic is regional, it has value to global viewers. What if someone from Germany is visiting your home town, and needs a dog kennel there? You also might want to expand your site to give more generic information that would appeal to a more global audience.

Language on the Web
Right now, most of the pages on the Web are in English, but just because you're writing your page in English in Australia, doesn't mean that a Canadian would understand it or find it useful. Make sure that you avoid slang on your site, as that is the most non-translatable element of a page. When you list a price, indicate what currency you're using. And when you list sizes or measurements, it helps if you list conversions, or link to a conversion Web site.
If you are going to translate your site, it works best if you hire a professional translator. While there are translation programs on the Web, many of them can result in very humorous results. If you can't hire a translator, then consider not putting up the page in that language, your page will look more professional if the language it's in is correct.

General Tips
Job listings
These are almost always region and country specific. Be sure to list where the job is located and where the applicant will need to live to take the job.

Make sure that all prices have the currency listed. If you expect to sell to multiple countries, indicate whether you will accept other currencies, and it also helps to point to a currency exchange site.

If you can only ship within your country, make that very clear. It can be very disappointing for a customer to find exactly what she is looking for, only to find that it can only be shipped inside the U.K. (and she lives in Australia). Remember, that just because a reader lives in another country doesn't mean that she doesn't have friends in your country, the Internet is global in that way as well.

Online events are, of course, global, but offline events should have the place, including country, indicated. Never assume that your readers will know that San Jose is in California in the United States - and what about San Jose, Costa Rica?

In the U.S. measurements like pound and mile are common. In Australia, you might hear terms like stone or meter, and in Uzbekistan kilo or kilometer. It helps if you include conversions, and if you don't know the actual conversion, link to a conversion site. This includes measurements for recipes, distances, and temperature.

There are many rules for contests around the world. Make sure that your site either follows them, or specifies the countries where the contest is valid.

Things to Avoid
AssumptionsNever assume you know where your reader is coming from, unless you have done extensive survey work, it's hard to say. Even if your readers aren't coming in on .jp domains, doesn't mean they aren't located in Japan, they may be on IP addresses that don't resolve to domains, or their ISP is global and has a .com or .net domain.
Generic terms such as:
foreign/domestic/local - what's foreign to you may be local to your reader
international - be careful here, you should use this term to define something that covers many or all nations, not just all but your own
regional designations - "east coast" means something completely different to someone in Moscow, Russia than to someone in Moscow, Idaho, US.
cities without indicating state and/or country - there is at least one London in the United States, as well as in England, and I live 20 minutes from Brisbane, but it's not in Queensland, Australia.
slang and dialect - words that are not found in a good dictionary should be avoided, as they won't be easily translatable.
Poor translationsAs I mentioned above, poor translations can really hurt a Web site. Many people will forgive a site for not being in their native language, and will be willing to go to a translation site if they need the information, but if your translation is bad, they won't trust you or your site as providing a quality product. Make sure that whatever language your site is in is grammatically correct, and free of spelling errors.

source : Jennifer Kyrnin

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