Globalization is essential if you want your business to be recognized internationally. Its benefits have been recognized worldwide and if you think the global online market is the new heaven for your business, then website localization is the stairway to it.
Ok, now we get it, but the question here is “Is your website still in English ONLY?” If your answer is “yes,” this number may disappoint you a bit. According to a survey conducted by the European Commission, 90% of Internet users prefer browsing a website presented in their native language. That’s almost everyone!
Similarly, if you have just one native language for website content, you will surely miss out on international customers.
Some famous brands go as far as having social media accounts localized with several targeted languages for online marketing. (That’s a different story, but you can definitely take note of it).
Here in this article, we will only focus on website localization and three top-notch brands that have nailed it!
Coca-Cola is an all-time classic example of a renowned F&B brand with kick-ass localization strategies. First of all, it has websites available for 118 countries and offers 45 different languages in total (as at the time of writing). That’s beyond impressive! Here is an example of how Coca-Cola displayed it:
So, what can we learn from here? If you have different languages available on your website, it is best to write them in their native languages.
The main goal of a multilingual website is to remove cultural barriers and offer personalized experiences while portraying your brand’s image.
As for the website that is targeting the U.S. market, its web layout is clean and straightforward with very less text. With just six horizontal full-width blocks, each of these ad banners screams “America” without a hint of its flag or country name.
In contrast, web design changes drastically for its Japanese website. You will be welcomed with bold Japanese styles like multiple small images, densely-packed texts, and an overstuffed look.
If you think that it is a poorly-customized homepage, you are 110% wrong. The reason is that the Japanese prefer to know more information about the products before they make a purchase decision. So, if you see these designs next time, don’t blame the web designer.
As you may have noticed, this is no longer about having a “consistent” brand principle across the world. What really matters is being open-minded and being ready to morph into something that your target audience wants.
Besides the main customized websites, each country also has its own coca-cola journey page. These pages focus only on local brand story, ads, and other marketing campaigns. Another marketing tip here is that there is more than one way to grab the attention of online customers. In this case, you can capture customers’ hearts by telling the brand story on your website (in their language of course!)
Hotels.com, as everyone knows, is one of the leading hotel booking sites in the world. It might not boast the prettiest web design, but when it comes to functionality, it is definitely nailing it.
As an international booking website which handles online transactions, having a wide range of currency options is very crucial. It currently offers 73 local currencies and reaches its international travelers across 90 global sites in 41 languages (as at the time of writing). It also accepts payments that are preferred locally within the market. For example, in China, Alipay can be used, while in the Netherlands, Paypal and iDeal are accepted.
Let’s talk about another feature. What is one of the necessary steps in searching for accommodations online? It is to choose check-in and check-out dates. On hotels.com, date and time are displayed according to the local format. Let’s take a look at the comparison below. As you can see, the date format on the UK site is DD/MM/YY while it is displayed as YY/MM/DD on the Japanese website.
If you visit the Nike Homepage, the first thing you will encounter is a minimalistic “language tunnel.” Users can select a preferred region after which a list of countries will pop up just like in the image below. Some countries even have multiple languages as additional options. For example, if you click on “Belgium,” you will be able to choose between Nederlands, Français, English, and Deutsch.
Instead of looking for that small language setting icon hidden at the corner of the pages, you can straight up start your browsing journey YOUR way.
One of the things Nike’s language localization strategy lacks is that only “en_gb” (British English) is offered for Malaysia and Singapore even though Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is regarded as their official National Language. What’s more is that neither of the two other widely-spoken languages; Mandarin and Tamil, are given as extra options.
On the other hand, the German language is available for Belgium although it’s only spoken by 0.4% as a first language. All in all, with its navigatable-yet-confusing choice of languages for the respective countries, we can conclude that Nike does impress customers with UX design, but its language localization is not yet above-par.
One more thing customers look for in online retail stores is free shipping/delivery to their countries. Nike displays a “Free Shipping” banner right underneath the main header so that customers won’t miss it. This shows that a good brand always prioritizes you and your comfort, be it online or offline.
Also, Nike pays great attention to sports that each country is famous for. For example, Argentina is known for its enthusiasm for soccer. Nike is well aware of this fact and features football-related ads on their homepage just like the one below:
Meanwhile, for the Chinese market, the spotlight was given to the NBA and basketball. The payment system is also powered by Alipay and UnionPay, the two popular online payment gateways for the market in China.
By comparing the website localization approach of Nike to that of Coca-Cola, all of Nike’s websites are only localized by languages and images, unlike its counterpart. It could mean that Nike either didn’t realize the importance of design localization or has studies that show that their audience reacts positively to the “western” design. For hotels.com, its main focus is purely on the functional details and the website design remains the same.
Before we conclude this topic, here is a compilation of some key takeaways for you:
Make sure your website has well-translated content with correct language usage. Through those beautifully-translated words, share your business story and create a bond with your customers. (To make your story visible to the world, you should focus on localized SEO as the next step.)
2. Website design and layout
Study the design, color, topics, and culture of your target market. Customize them in a way that they the needs of the locals.
In the case of Coca-cola, Japanese web design is not going to succeed in the U.S. market because of the difference is preferences locally. This is how powerful a website design localization project can be.
Have a clear display of a list of languages and countries localized for your website. It is a fundamental localization process. If they don’t see those options, it is your loss.
4. Currency and Payment Method
- People are most familiar with their local currency. Having just a handful of currencies displayed won’t make the cut for the world market.
- Always integrate the locally-favored transaction methods for payment checkouts.
- Use the correct currency symbol placement which can be placed before or after the digits with or without spaces depending on the language.
5. Date and Time Format
If your business is related to Travel and Tourism, it is advised to use the correct date and time format. Attention to the smallest details is what most companies lack.
This is especially true for sports betting and does not stop with the different odds systems: Fraction Odds, Decimal Odds, American Odds (or U.S. Moneyline Odds), Hong Kong Odds, Malay Odds or Indonesian Odds – or even Implied Probability. They are methods used to present perceived percentage chance of success for betting, and the display formats differ from one country to another.
What we described above is just to open your eyes to the world of translation and localization. There are definitely more advanced technical factors involved to build a strong multilingual website.
Depending on the nature of your business, website localization processes vary widely. In the world of iGaming and online gambling, it is essential that the terminology or gambling slangs are translated spot-on on your website. It is also a necessity to make your website “found” by your target market through multilingual SEO optimization.