Disney to Redesign Web Site Next Year

So said Disney president Bob Iger in his earnings call last month. Here’s the text…

“In fiscal 2007, we will launch a wholly redesigned Disney.com that will capitalize on the unique strength of the Disney brand and content. This is in addition to our robust entertainment offerings from our other vertical sites, ESPN 360 and ABC.com. So across our entire portfolio, we will emphasize entertainment, commerce and community. We also will continue to invest in our core Disney-branded content for television and other platforms around the world. We see increased development of high-quality branded content to markets outside the United States as an important long-term brand and profit-building opportunity for us. Creative and brand strength, the application of technology and globalization are the central elements of our strategy.”

The question is: Will Disney redesign with Web globalization in mind? The redesign stage is the ideal time for a company to craft a Web site that can scale to accomodate multiple locales and languages.

Disney has performed poorly in our annual Web Globalization Report Card. In 2006, the Disney.com site ranked 274 out of 300. Disney property ESPN faired even worse at 284. So there is plenty of room for improvement across the board.

The most important improvement Disney can make is to employ a global design template that all countries can work within. This template should be largely text based, to provide for fast-loading Web pages. That’s not to say that Disney can’t use lots of rich media; just that the global template should be optimized for speed. Currently, there are loads of text embedded within visuals for little reason other than because the designer wanted to display a specific font.

Global navigation should also be improved so that no matter where users land on the site, or what language they speak, they can easily find their way to where they want to go.

This is the time for Disney to improve its global Web strategy. I’ll keep an eye on the site and report back in 2007…

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.