Do you know what your multilingual website tells about your business?

Multilingual websiteIt’s hard to expand to new markets with a monolingual website only. Even if most companies are aware of the importance of translating and localising their website, there’s one more thing that is often overlooked: the scope and method of localising your website tells more about your business than the actual content. Below you can find out how your multilingual website may be perceived by your visitors.

1. Language choice in form of flags

Such a simple and handy solution. So simple that many businesses blindly go for this option and end up confusing and disorienting their visitors. There might be no issues if you display a Polish or Finnish flag for users from these countries. But what about Spanish, English, German or Arabic? These languages are spoken in a number of countries and regions, so choosing a British flag for the English language or German for the German content will create an impression that you don’t really know your potential customers. Similarly, many countries have more than one official language, and using one single flag as a language choice may offend your visitors. Flags displayed on the website might look more appealing than a simple language code or language name, but this approach clearly says that your website and your business isn’t ready for the international users who can’t be classified by national symbols only.

2. Only 2 available languages

Websites developed in languages other than English are often localised into English first. It may open the door to new visitors from multiple countries, but at the same time it limits your opportunities. If the content is available in English to make it accessible and understandable for everyone, it’s actually targeted at no one. This approach may suggest that your business wants to be known worldwide, but doesn’t really focus on a particular market. Choosing one specific language of your desired market will usually bring more benefits than localising your website into English only. But to do so, you’ll need to carry out a market research first to find out which regions and languages are beneficial for your business.

3. Different content for each language

If each language version is adjusted to the target users from different countries, provides local content and localised layout, your website will come across as more attractive. And your business may be perceived as more trustworthy. This strategy indicates that you cater for the needs of each user group and treat your potential customers individually, rather than putting them all into one “international” category. It also means that every single market is important to your business and you know how to approach customers from different cultures.

4. Limited information on the international version

Localised versions may provide less information than the original websites. And there’s nothing wrong with that if you do it on purpose. If you’ve researched your target market and know that your visitors need less content to get the full image of your products or services. But if your website features only “About us” or “Contact” page in a foreign language, the first impression of your visitors won’t be great at all. It either means that you’re not sure if your business can be attractive to the international visitors or that you’re still not convinced that proper localisation goes together with numerous business benefits. Or you’re testing a new market and trying to find out if providing partial or missing information is a good marketing strategy. 

 

 Do you think your website fits in any of these categories? Are you ready to create a better online image of your business?

(Photo by D. Pawlak)

Dorota helps businesses and individuals to communicate successfully across cultures in the online and offline world. She is a qualified translator and an entrepreneur supporting other self-employed professionals on their path towards building a more successful business.

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