Notes from Singles Day 2015

By John Yunker,

And so it has begun: The world’s biggest online shopping day.

In China.

More than $9 billion dollars was spent this day last year and experts are forecasting a number well north of that this year.

As I’ve been doing for the past few years, I’ve collected a few screen grabs of localized websites in China. Here are the latest:



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Apple’s evolving global gateway provides another reason to rid your website of flags

By John Yunker,

Apple can’t seem to rid itself of using flags on its global gateway. And, yes, I’ve been writing about this for awhile now.

Every time Apple launches a redesign I get my hopes up.

But this latest design merely offered up newly “flattened” map icons, as shown here:

Current Apple Global Gateway:


Previous Apple Global Gateway:


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Is .com worth changing your name?

By John Yunker,


Venture capitalist Paul Graham believes so. He notes:

100% of the top 20 YC companies by valuation have the .com of their name. 94% of the top 50 do. But only 66% of companies in the current batch have the .com of their name. Which suggests there are lessons ahead for most of the rest, one way or another.

As an owner of many .com domains, I’m certainly a fan of the domain.

And I’d be hesitant to launch a new brand or company without first securing one.

But if I were based in, say, Indonesia, would I care as much about .com? Would I prefer to register the country code .ID?


And if I were to launch a purely mobile company, would my domain matter at all? Have we reached a point in time where the next wave of the world’s largest companies will exist largely domainless? It’s certainly feasible. Visit the website of Shapchat and you don’t get the software application; all you get is blinded by a highly annoying shade of yellow. Granted, Snapchat is hosted at .com, but it could have just as easily been hosted at .XYZ.

Which brings me to Google, which hosts its new parent company Alphabet at (Google does not own

I don’t want to read too much into this domain in particular, only to mention that the rules today have changed.

That said, I largely agree with Paul Graham regarding .com. There are plenty of legal reasons to lock up the domain. And, for better or worse, the .com domain is considered a global domain name (and, by most Americans) an American domain name.

But my point is this: Don’t view .com as your only domain name. Don’t overlook country codes and IDNs as you build out your global presence. 


Global gateway icon: Globes gain traction

By John Yunker,

Regular readers of this blog know well that I advocate for a global gateway icon on websites and apps — a visual element that lets users know, regardless of their language, where to find the global gateway menu.

I recommend using a globe icon because it displays well in small sizes, can be made geographically neutral (see below) and communicates its meaning across all languages.

I’ve noticed over the past year more and more companies making use of the globe icon.

Here is one:


And here is the Netflix global gateway (not well positioned, however):


Both of these icons are geographically neutral.

As opposed to this icon, used by GM in its header:


To learn how to make the best use of a global gateway icon along with geolocation, check out Geolocation for Global Success.

  Category: Global navigation
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In search of a better translation icon

By John Yunker,

A few years ago I wrote about the translation icon and its many variations at that point in time.

I thought now would be a good time to revisit this icon.

Let’s start with the Google Translate. This icon has not changed in substance over the years but it has been streamlined a great deal.

Here is the icon used for its app:


Microsoft uses a similar icon across its website, apps, and APIs:


I’m not a fan of this icon, despite how prevalent it has become.

Before I go into why exactly, here is another app icon I came across:


These first three icons display specific language pairs, which could be interpreted as showing preference for a given language pair. This is the issue that I find problematic.

Why can’t a translate icon be language agnostic?

Here is how SDL approaches the translation icon:


Although the icon is busy, I’m partial to what SDL is doing here — as this icon does not display a given script pair.

Here is another icon, from the iTranslate app:


The counter-argument to a globe icon is this: It is used EVERYWHERE. And this is true. Facebook, for example, uses the globe icon for notifications, which I’ve never understood. Nevertheless, the globe icon can successfully deliver different messages depending on context. In the context of a mobile app icon, I think a globe icon works perfectly well.


So the larger question here is whether or not a language pair is required to communicate “translation.” 

Google and Microsoft certainly believe that a language pair is required, which is where we stand right now. I’d love to see this change. I think we can do better.