How to localize your business web site?

When going global with an internet presence, the more a company localizes, the better. Web surfer want an online experience corresponding to their cultural context offline. But to save cash, many entrepreneurs prefer to do as much as possible of the web design themselves. Do the international websites you visit follow these pointers for launching an online presence?

  • Choose Colors Carefully. A black-white Website is fine  for many countries, but in some Asia  visitors may think you are inviting them to a funeral. In Japan and across Europe, web sites in pastel color schemes often work best.
  • Select numbers with care. many Chinese- speaking cultures consider the number four unlucky, although eight and nine symbolize prosperity. Be careful that your web site address and phone numbers do not send the wrong signal.
  • Watch the clock. If marketing to countries that use the 24-hour clock, adjust times stated on the site so it reads, “Call between 9:00 and 17:00″ instead of “Call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.”
  • Avoid slang. English in Britain is different from that in the United States, Spanish in Spain is different from that in Mexico, and French in France is different from that in Quebec. Avoid slang to lessen the impact of such differences, or go to further and offer different site versions for each language variation.
  • Wave the flag cautiously. Be careful when using national flags as symbols for buttons that provide access to different language versions of your site. British visitor to your site may be put off  if you use a U.S.  flag to signify the English language version of the site. The same holds true when marketing to Spanish and Chinese speaking populations living in nation across the globe.
  • Do the Math. Provide conversion into local currencies for buyer convenience. For online ordering, be sure your site calculates accurately any shipping costs, tax rates, tariffs, and so on. Also allow enough blanks on the order form to accommodate longer international addresses.
  • Get Feedback. Finally, talk with customers or prospective customers to kno what they want to accomplish on your web site, then thoroughly test the site to ensure it functions properly.
(Reference: Wild-Wild-Han. International Business. Pearson)

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