Laura Dunn of mmadigital looks at the importance of speaking the language your clients understand and creating a global facing website for your overseas clients
The internet has no boundaries of geography. Your firm can, and will, be viewed by people all over the world. If you are trying to attract international clients a website that factors in where your potential clients are based, can be the difference between winning their business and losing to a competitor even before they’ve clicked past the home page.
Of course this can present a number of challenges. Some will seem obvious, language and layout for Arabic text may have already been considered, but what about the cultural significance of colour or the lack of broadband or high specification computers in the users’ location?
These specifications need not discourage you from ensuring your website is compatible across the globe as with the right support and research, adding variations for your future international client base can be a simple process.
But what are the most important things to consider? While there is no limit to how ‘local’ you can make a website, here are the top five points to get you started:
• Colour and imagery: It may seem a little strange but colour can really mean differing things to different cultures. Red is often seen as an angry colour in the western world, yet in China and other Far Eastern countries it represents luck. It’s also well worth taking the time to choose images carefully. Something that might seem perfectly acceptable to one country could cause deep offence in another. Making your landing page country specific and appropriate to that culture will make a great first impression.
• Use of technology: There are thousands of devices and browsers now and a responsive website really is the best way to increase client engagement and convert them into clients. While everyone you know may have the latest iPhone or Android tablet, many countries still have earlier models. So, instead of creating an App that only works on the latest software, create a more responsive mobile website so you can ensure no customer is discriminated against just because they haven’t got access to the latest technology.
• Technical constraints: As with the personal technology of your future clients, consideration needs to be given to the technical infrastructure of their country. Make sure your websites adhere to lightweight use of code and website optimisation to increase the speed of your site, particularly in poor broadband areas. Old browsers that might not have been updated in certain areas need to be taken into account, as does the limitations on mobile usage if 3G is not available or suffers from heavy use.
• Language: It might seem like common sense but you need to make sure you really are talking to your overseas clients in the language they understand. Automatic translators do not work as well as you might think, they don’t take into account the use of grammar or language gender meaning at the very least your potential clients won’t be confident you know what you’re talking about. Investing in a good quality translation service will certainly be money well spent.
• Layout: How your website looks and what you add to those all-important first pages can mean the difference between interest and boredom. For example, UK clients may like features, insights and analytics whereas US clients might lean toward latest news, industry updates and networking opportunities.
Research will play a big part in how your country specific sites will end up looking and it’s always a good idea to look at the best practice used by already well-established international organisations in varying sectors.
Of course the list above is by no means exhaustive but these five points will serve as a good foundation in ensuring your site is respectful of overseas customers and their varying cultures.
Laura Dunn is Creative Director, mmadigital. www.mmadigital.co.uk