Adobe: The best global consumer technology website of 2016

By John Yunker,

For the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied the following 15 consumer technology websites:

  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Canon
  • Dell
  • HP
  • HTC
  • Lenovo
  • LG
  • Microsoft
  • Nikon
  • Panasonic
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Toshiba
  • Xiaomi

The consumer technology sector includes many of the most globally successful companies. So it’s no surprise that the top four companies are also in the top 25 list: Adobe, Microsoft, Samsung and Nikon.

Adobe emerged on top even though it is not the language leader; Microsoft leads with 43 languages.

But Adobe leads in global navigation and consistency. Shown below is the Japanese home page, which shares the same global template with most other country websites:

adobe_jp

 

In the footer is the global gateway link, as indicated by the map icon. I recommend upgrading this icon into the header to improve findability. I also recommend using a generic globe icon.

adobe_gateway_footer

Clicking on the map icon brings up an effective global gateway menu overlay. Notice how the country/region names are in the local languages. I call this a “universal” global gateway because it can be used across all localized websites (instead of supporting a separate menu for each local website):

adobe_gateway

Adobe also makes good use of geolocation to help determine which localized website users prefer. For example, if a user in Ecuador inputs Adobe.com, he or she is taken to the .com English-language website but presented with this overlay that lets the user know there is also a Spanish-language site available.

adobe_geolocation

This way, users remain in control but also made aware of localized websites. To learn more about geolocation strategies, check out Geolocation for Global Success.

Adobe also one of a growing number of companies that make use of user-facing machine translation to allows users to self-translate content. Here is a screen shot from the user forums. While the execution could be more user friendly, the feature itself is something more companies should be supporting (and many are currently testing):

adobe_forum_translation

On a separate note, I wanted to highlight the mobile home page for Nikon.

Notice the globe icon in the header. Nikon is one of the few consumer tech websites to include a global gateway link in the header of its mobile website.

nikon_mobile

To learn more, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

American Express: The best global financial services website of 2016

By John Yunker,

For the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied 9 financial services websites:

  • Allianz
  • American Express
  • Axa
  • Citibank
  • HSBC
  • Marsh
  • MasterCard
  • Visa
  • Western Union

American Express emerged on top with support for an impressive 41 languages; it most recently added Bosnian. Allianz finished in second place in regards to languages.

The AmEx home page, shown here, features a visible global gateway link well positioned in the header:

amex_home

You’ll notice that flags are not used on the global gateway menu, which is smart. American Express also includes “speech bubbles” to indicate that the site has been localized. I’m not sure these icons are needed. Instead, simply present the localized country names in the local languages. And as for those countries that are not yet localized, leave those country names in English, since the websites are still only in English.

amex_gateway

AmEx supports most lightweight mobile website of the financial services sector. It comes in at 800 kilobytes, which is more than five times lighter than the MasterCard and Visa mobile websites.

amex_mobile

Now, there is still plenty of room for improvement. While the global website is responsive, the global gateway page is NOT responsive, which is a significant oversight. And a number of localized websites still rely on legacy, non-responsive templates. This isn’t unique to AmEx as many financial services companies are not globally consistent.

Overall, American Express is well ahead of the competition when it comes to website globalization.

But the competition isn’t sitting still. It’s worth noting that both MasterCard and Visa launched newly designed and responsive websites over the past year. And that Visa has been aggressively adding languages, expanding its global reach.

I expect this year to see a significant increase in languages supported across the financial sector.

 

 

 

What’s the most multilingual website?

By John Yunker,

I often point to Wikipedia as one of the most multilingual websites on the Internet.

Which is a major reason why Wikipedia finished in third place in the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

But Wikipedia is not the most multilingual website.

For that, I’d have to point toward the Jehovah’s Witnesses website.

As only partially illustrated by the screen grab below, the Jehovah’s Witnesses site supports nearly 600 languages, up from 400 in 2010.

jw_gateway.700

In comparison, Wikipedia supports only 271 languages.

Google supports only 125 languages.

(It feels odd to write “only” and “125 languages” in the same sentence)

I should be clear that I’m using a liberal definition of “supporting a language.” Most of the languages supported by the Jehovah’s website are represented by very little content — about a dozen or so web pages. This is also static content — the stuff that doesn’t require monthly or even annual updates. Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that 600 languages is a notable achievement.

Here’s a sample page in Marathi:

jehova's witness global

 

I want to highlight the global gateway: The menu includes all available languages (displayed in the local languages). And, equally important, a global gateway icon is well positioned in the upper right corner of every web page, as shown below:

Jehovah's Witness global gateway

 

I prefer a globe icon as the one used here says “translation” more than global gateway.

So how does the JW.org website compare with other religion websites?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports an impressive 115 languages, up from 40 a few years ago.

And the website has made great strides in improving its global gateway. Shown below is the language menu:

LDS global gateway

 

And here is the globe icon used to highlight the gateway:

lsd_gatewaydetail2

 

The Holy See supports a mere 10 languages, which, to its credit, is an increase from five years ago.

Holy See global gateway

 

I also visited the Christian Scientist website, which has made progress over the years–up to about 20 languages.

Christian Science home page

 

I reviewed a handful of other religion websites but found nothing beyond English and Spanish.

While I doubt anyone is going to come close to challenging Jehovah’s Witnesses soon in languages, I’d love to see more competition. So if I’ve overlooked any website, please let me know.

You can now register the Japanese equivalent of .com: .コム

By John Yunker,

verisign_japanese_com

And so it begins.

Verisign, the registrar that manages .com domains, has begun its rollout of non-Latin .com equivalents, beginning with Japanese:

Japanese .com domain

Now, if you don’t have a Japanese domain name, slapping .コム to the end of your company’s name probably doesn’t make much sense from a branding perspective (though absolutely from an intellectual property perspective).

But more and more companies DO have Japanese domains names (or should).

And these companies will be registering this domain, if they haven’t already.

The official land rush begins May 16, 2016. So get ready!

Japanese is only just the beginning.

 

 

 

 

Say hello to the first .google domain

By John Yunker,

domains.google

Google announced the launch of domains.google. today, not a new service but a newly “domained” service.

I think it’s fitting that the first public use of .google is applied to its domains business.

The question is: What other business lines will begin using .google?

And what will .google ultimately resolve to? A search window?

 

Chinese marathoners suffer from lack of translation

By John Yunker,

soap china

According to People’s Daily, a number of runners in a South China marathon suffered from more than simply lack of hydration.

Try lack of translation.

The bar of soap shown above was included in each runner’s swag bag — apparently a number of runners thought they were energy bars. Yes, folks, translation does matter!

And even in English, that package does not look like soap. After 26 miles I might have done the same thing.

Intel: The best global enterprise technology website of 2016

By John Yunker,

For the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied 11 enterprise technology websites:

  • Autodesk
  • Cisco Systems
  • EMC
  • IBM
  • Huawei
  • Intel
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • Texas Instruments
  • Xerox
  • VMware

With support for 23 languages, Intel is not the language leader in this category; Cisco Systems leads with 40 languages.

But Intel leads in other ways.

Such as global navigation. First and foremost, Intel has embraced country codes, such as:

  • www.intel.de
  • www.intel.co.jp
  • www.intel.cn

On the China home page, the global gateway is perfectly positioned in the header. Also, note the globe icon — which makes this global gateway easy to find no matter what language you speak:

intel_cn

Selecting the globe icon brings up this “universal” global gateway menu:

intel_gateway_2015

Universal means this menu can be used across all localized websites — because the locale names are presented in the local languages and scripts (for the markets in which they are supported). 

Unfortunately, on the mobile website the globe icon is demoted to the footer. Shown here is the Polish home page:

Intel Poland mobile

Intel supports strong global consistency across its many local websites. Depth of local content varies and there are gaps in support content across a number of languages.

But Intel is making smart use of machine translation  to allows users to self-translate content into their target language. Shown here an excerpt from the Brazil website.

Intel Brazil Machine Translation

The button near the top of the page is what users select to self-translate content. Too few companies are making use of machine translation currently.

One concern, looking ahead, is that the .com design has very recently demoted the global gateway icon to the footer.

Intel global gateway in the footer

Ironically, it is the .com website that most requires a global gateway in the header because more than half of all visitors to the .com website originate outside of the US.

For more information, check out the Web Globalization Report Card.

Chinese drawing even with English on global websites

By John Yunker,

Over the past decade Simplified Chinese has grown to become one of the most popular languages on global websites, second only to English.

According to the Web Globalization Report Card, which has long monitored languages supported by the world’s leading brands, Chinese was seen on only about six out of ten websites in 2006.

Today, it is seen on virtually every global website.

chinese language growth

That’s not to say languages such as French, German and Spanish aren’t important as well. In fact, French is right on par with Chinese, followed by German, Japanese, and Spanish.

Here are the top 10 languages overall:

top 10 languages

I should also note that Russian has seen a significant rise in usage over the past decade. In 2006, Russian was seen on only 42% of all global websites and now it’s up to 87%.

But there are language gaps still remaining. Arabic, for example, is spoken by more than 240 million people but only half of all global websites support it (so far).

And Hindi, with more than 260 million speakers, sees a paltry 4% of global website support — many companies cling to the hope that English will be sufficient for India. Perhaps for today but not for long. Consider that companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have embraced Hindi, as well as other Indic languages, foreshadowing a time when other companies will be compelled to follow their lead.

To learn more, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

To learn more, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

The best global automotive website of 2016: BMW

By John Yunker,

For the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied 13 automotive websites:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Chevrolet
  • Ford
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Land Rover
  • Lexus
  • Mercedes
  • Mini
  • Nissan
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen

I want to preface this post by saying that automotive websites have historically been strong on languages but weak on global consistency and global navigation. This year is no exception, though there are promising signs that automotive websites are making improvements in global consistency. Automotive companies are highly decentralized organizations with independent web teams and budgets, which often results in websites that share few design elements across country/region websites.

Out of those 15 websites studied, BMW emerged on top.

With support for 41 languages (excluding US English), BMW is among the leaders in this category (Nissan and Honda are tied for the lead).

BMW also does a very good job of supporting country codes, with the notable exception of its US website, located at: www.bmwusa.com.

Because BMW has an oddly separate domain for the US website, US visitors to the .com domain see this overlay:

This is not the ideal solution for this navigation challenge, but it’s better than what most other websites do in this situation, which is effectively nothing.

BMW does lack a prominent visual global gateway across all websites — a feature most automotive websites also sadly lack.

Now let’s talk about global consistency. Here are three localized BMW websites:

bmw

There are three different templates in use here, which we do not recommend. However, at least the logo elements are consistent (though not consistently positioned).

And yet, if you compare BMW to Honda, shown here you’ll even see a mix of logo elements. So BMW still has a slight advantage. Audi, Nissan, and Land Rover also are above-average in global consistency.

honda

Now let’s talk mobile. BMW is the only mobile website in this sector to weigh less than 1 MB.

bmw_mobile

This is significant, and a big reason why, for the first time since 2011, an automotive website made it into the Top 25 list.

For more information, check out the Web Globalization Report Card.

 

 

 

Join me in Santa Clara next month for a web globalization event

By John Yunker,

I’m pleased to be presenting next month in Santa Clara, California on website globalization best practices.

I’ll be drawing heavily on the most recent Report Card. And I’ll also be joined by a panel of web globalization experts.

Here are the details:

March 22, 2016
11:30 am
Santa Clara, CA
Bourbon Steak & Pub at Levi’s Stadium

The presentation is sponsored by SDL and it is free. So if you’re around I hope you can join us.

Click here to register.