How many languages should your website support?

Each year, for the Web Globalization Report Card, I note the languages supported by more than a hundred websites across more than fifteen industry verticals. And, to ensure I include the leading global brands, I make sure to include more than 70% of the Interbrand best global brands.

My goal is to get a broad understanding of the current state of web globalization.

Over the years, one data point has never failed to impress me.

The number of languages supported by global websites.

 

When I began the Report Card back in 2003, any company that supported 20 or more languages truly stood apart. Today, 20 languages is well behind the curve.

Today, the average global website supports 28 languages.

That’s not to say that your website should support 28 languages. Amazon, for example, supports a mere 9 languages (not counting English). And though I do believe Amazon should be investing more heavily in web globalization (particularly in light of recent developments at Apple and Google), the fact is that every company needs to develop its own language strategy.

But I will say this much: Web globalization begins with languages. And any companies with serious global aspirations has no choice but to embrace languages.

Lots of them.

3 Responses to “How many languages should your website support?”

  1. Allie March 11, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    Those numbers are really startling to me. I would have guessed the average number would have been around the 8-10 mark tops. It’s amazing that even back in 2005 the average was over 10. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the next 10 years the bigger sites will target almost all, if not all, languages of the world. That’s both cool and a bit mind boggling at the same time.

  2. John Yunker March 12, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    If you include a much-larger group of companies, the average most definitely will drop to the range you mention. But because I’m focused largely on multinationals and global brands, the average is going to be much higher. It also doesn’t hurt that Facebook supports 74 languages and Google Search more than 125 languages.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Best Practices on Chinese Web Localization for Multinational Companies - May 14, 2013

    […] “Web globalization begins with languages. And any compan[y] with serious global aspirations ha[s] no choice but to embrace languages,” said John Yunker, co-founder of Byte Level Research and author of The Web Globalization Report Card. […]