Schreiber Translations, Inc.

Globalizing your Website

"Three Reasons to Make Your Site Multilingual"
Article 2 of 4 in a series

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In addition to the compelling view of the international Internet marketplace given in the previous article, A Worldwide View of the World Wide Web, consider these factors when deciding whether to globalize your website:

Marketing Considerations

A website is primarily a marketing tool, whether it is being used to promote a product or a service or just to get the word out about your organization or your organization's activities. Even if the main goal of your site isn't to sell something, you have created it and posted it because you want people to spend time looking at it. And if indeed you are ultimately trying to sell a product or service, your best chances at accomplishing that are by keeping people interested and coming back to your site for the information that's there. People will spend more time and come back more often to sites that are in their native language and appeal to their cultural sensibilities.

Think about it. You would never consider an all-English international marketing campaign using another media. Print ads in German magazines would be in German. Television ads in France in French. And direct mail advertising in Japan in Japanese. Claiming that English sites are sufficient because most people who surf the Web speak English simply isn't valid from a marketing standpoint.

There is also the issue that any business or organization already on the Web already has worldwide visibility and by ignoring millions in your audience by not addressing their linguistic and cultural preferences you could even be going as far as to insult them. You may even be missing out on entire market segments – almost everyone in Holland and Sweden speaks English, but studies there show that they prefer to search the Internet in their native languages.

The Numbers

Non-native English speakers make up 95% of the world's population. There are only six main countries where English is the mother tongue – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There are approximately 165 million native speakers of English accessing the internet as compared to 315 million non-native speakers. The numbers speak for themselves.

Cost Considerations

Using your website as a multilingual promotional tool can be a very cost-effective form of advertising. More traditional print or other media advertising requires you to spend the money to both develop and translate your promotional information and then incur the ongoing expense of running the ad multiple times. With a website, once you translate and localize the main information into the languages of your choice, your expenses stop.

Plus, localizing your site simply may not be as expensive as you think. If your site is purely informational, for example, and does not run any complicated applications, it is possible that it could cost you under $1000 per language to have it localized.

In addition, there are certainly ways and means to minimize the cost involved with your localization project. Two main ideas include limiting the number of languages you address or limiting the amount of material you provide in other languages.

It is not necessarily a requirement that you translate all of the information on your site into all of the languages of the world. Only provide translations of the most relevant and important information on your site. "Extras", such as games or periphery-type material can remain in English. Areas with highly technical material, in industries where English is usually used for the technical terminology, can remain in English. Or provide some sort of combination, whereby your entire site is offered in a few "major" languages and only portions are offered in some "secondary" languages.

Another option is to only translate a "jumper" page or pages to lead people into your English site. You can then promote these pages internationally. Certainly there will be those who will be put off to ultimately reach a site in a language other than their own, but there are also those who will appreciate the effort made to communicate with them and who as a result will find you when they otherwise may not have.

The fact that your website can be used as a cost-effective marketing and informational tool to reach literally millions of people is certainly something to think about!

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