In today’s world, your website can and will be accessed by people from all over the world. Designing and building your website for a global audience is fundamentally important. Every good designer understands this simple truth.
That being said, what does it really mean to design for a global audience? Not many websites have been designed for a global audience. Even designers who intend to design for a global audience often miss the mark. This article will analyze what it takes to design for a global audience.
In order to understand what it takes to design for a global audience, you need to understand the concept of localization. Localization means altering your content to cater to a different market or audience than the audience you designed for. This alteration may be in the form of changing the language or even cultural symbols on your website. It takes studying a different culture and understanding it deeply before interpreting the cultural cues and languages to suit your content.
So why should we localize our websites? Why not just target one specific demographic or audience and roll with it? Well, the reason is simple. In any online based business, it’s all about the numbers. Your numbers determine everything you do and where your business stands. It will affect your revenue and determine your overall level of success. A wider reach means bigger numbers, and that is the ultimate goal of any web-based business. If there is a chance you could reach every single human being on the planet, you jump on that chance and figure out the rest later.
While English may be popular, only 26% of internet users speak and use the internet in English. You will be shutting out almost 80% of potential customers by not localizing. Sticking to one point of view has been the death of many web-based businesses.
This is why localization is so important. Website localization needs to be planned for from the moment of conceptualization. Writing code and designing layouts that account for possible future localization will save you a lot of headaches when the time comes to localize it. However, there is the possibility to hire a professional company, such as Daydigital, that can help you design and localize your website for a foreign audience. But, if you plan to do in –house, here are a few tips that will help you design your website for a global audience.
Simple websites are easier to localize than complex ones. Having many elements like images on the page will make localization many times more difficult than it could be. You will have to analyze every image on the page and find culturally appropriate alternatives if they do not fit the bill. Consider how Google has done it. The search engine is extremely minimal, making it very easy to localize and scale up.
Unicode is an industry standard that makes it possible to represent text consistently across languages and scripts. It has over 100,000 characters and 90 scripts. UTF-8 is the default encoding system for websites. Use Unicode to make sure your site is compatible with other languages.
Let Your Website Breathe
Use white spaces to make your website appear light, uncluttered and breathable. This extra space also serves another purpose: during translation, if your text expands, it can occupy this extra space. If you do not account for this all your extra text will spill out of their containers and the design will collapse.
Invest In Quality Translation
Some designers think that in order to translate their website, all they have to do is use Google Translate. Well, we all know how faulty Google Translate can get sometimes. Your translations may end up being inaccurate, funny or even offensive. Human translation is what you need if you want accuracy. Hire a professional translation company and they will help you by delivering great results.
If you are designing for a global market, you need to consider the fact that not all parts of the world have fast internet speeds. Loading times vary, and if your site is heavy, it will not load correctly in most cases. What makes a site heavy? Consider the basics like huge image files and videos. Do not have them on your site if you can avoid it. You want to deliver the most user-friendly experience possible to all your users.
Designing for a global audience is about so much more than simple translation. Think about the future and put yourself in your prospective audience’s shoes. You want to cater to their needs from the word go, from the moment you conceive of the idea of the website. Your audience will notice the attention to detail that you have put into your work for their sake, and they will appreciate you for it.