Beyoncé Beyond Borders

Global superstars, like global companies, are realizing that it’s not enough to launch an English-only Web site. If you want to truly speak to the world you need a multilingual Web site.

Take Beyoncé.

Even though her songs are in English her Web site has been localized, to varying degree, for eight countries.

Beyonce

This site is clearly a work in progress. Flags are used for navigation and the French and Italian flags don’t work yet. And why they used “Holland” instead of “Netherlands” seems a bit odd — perhaps it was a spacing decision. The local sites do not use a global design template, which would have made for an easier rollout of the new album promotional elements.

Still, there are some nice touches. For instance, the Japanese site features an interview using Japanese subtitles. And if you visit the German site you’ll find a link to iTunes Germany to purchase songs.

Beyoncé Germany
Beyonce Germany

Now, because this is a link to the German iTunes store, you’ll need a German user account to make a purchase. For those of us in the US, we’re going to see this little error message if we select the link…

Beyonce germany itunes

Why can’t iTunes sell songs across borders? Because the record industry won’t allow it. Although Beyoncé is ahead of most of her peers in Web globalization, there are still some limits to how far you can go.

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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.