The potential to easily reach new markets
The internet has given small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to enter the global market in a way that was never before possible. They are able to sell their goods and services and build their brand directly through their website to customers all over the world with minimal effort. That being said, internationalising and localising your website is an essential step to take if you want to be noticed by overseas customers.
Internationalising your website means translating it into other languages. Localising your website means adapting the content to suit the cultural needs of foreign visitors. Translating your content and adapting your images and design into the native language of the intended audience is an essential step in any digital marketing campaign.
Extending your international online presence can be intimidating. But with the right planning, the process can be smooth and rewarding.
There are a number of considerations to make when expanding your international online presence, including
The choice of the technical platform.
As against English only sites, multi-language sites require a more involved back-end technical configuration to allow for the complexities of managing ongoing changes, as as well as localised SEO. When the back-end is not planned and built correctly using the relevant technical tools, this can turn out to be an expensive and problematic endeavor
Historically, multilingual websites required vast budgets, since they were custom coded by in-house developers or large agencies, with high build and modification costs attached. With new website building technology available today, this is no longer the case.
Proprietary pay-as-you-go systems, such as Wix and Squarespace, do have some languages capability but are not specifically designed with localisation in mind.
Open Source platforms such as WordPress provide more options and have dedicated plugins created specifically for multi-language web design and multilingual SEO.
defining your site structure. When it comes to your products and services, how you do this and what you sell will vary depending on the market and country. With this in mind, the design of your website will also vary by both of these factors.
Translating the content of the site.
At the time of translating a website to another language, many factors need to be considered. First and foremost, the layout of the website – will the design look good when translated? Will it look consistent in another language?
The website structure needs to be defined before diving into content adaptation and translation. The site should be designed with localisation in mind, meaning that it must take into consideration cultural sensitivities in order to make your product or content more appealing to a wider audience and therefore translations will need to be adjusted accordingly.
It’s important to remember that these decisions on translations will not only affect how people perceive your brand online but also what you can do with regards to SEO and SEM. No matter how perfect your multilingual website is, if customers can’t find you, your effort is wasted.
Ensuring your digital efforts reflect your export business development strategy
International business development is about designing and implementing an export strategy that results in the successful sale of your goods or services abroad. If you are looking to grow your company’s international business, then your multi-language website should be the digital reflection or your export strategy.
In order for your website to reflect your export business development strategy, you also need to make sure that all of the information on it is accurate, for example from the way you present, the tone of voice, relevant to distribution channels, client demographics, and trade law/data compliance, through to customer service numbers in different countries.
Working with specialists
Having a web design agency that understands international business development, and the complexities and specifics of multilingual web design will optimise any investment you make. The more experienced they are in this field, the more invaluable their specialist expertise is.