A web developer needs to ensure that the website is well received around the world. It is affordable and profitable to build websites optimised for different language groups and countries. So, how do you optimise the website for search engines in foreign markets and what is the value of this? Creating websites and content that communicates easily across different cultures is more than just a skill. It is a matter of being aware and alert about how different cultures have different aesthetic preferences based on cultural biases, or following basic principles for making the site more acceptable across different cultures.
- Content Needs to Communicate Effectively
A skilled and astute web developer designing sites for global clients needs to take special care with content, if the aim is to appeal to different cultures. Understanding the nuances of different languages is at the heart of the website. The key to multilingual content is to ensure that it is well-written, targeted and relevant. With over 78 percent of international speakers not able to understand English, the need for translations is eventual at some point. Starting with quality content actually helps in the translation process.
Aspects like informal colloquialisms and abbreviations need to be translated well. If your budget does not stretch to professional translators, you need to consider using an online translation service. Keywords require a professional and multilingual SEO specialist, to get this crucial aspect of website design and development right.
- Choosing the Right Shade
For a web developer seeking to proceed across site development for different cultures, the design of the site is a big factor in how well it will be received in different cultures. One of the most important aspects of design and development is the use of colour – here, we need to move past just aesthetics. Colours have different cultural connotations, too. Red, for example, symbolises danger or power in Western nations, but in the Orient, it is linked to purity, celebration and good luck. The colour green has an environmental overtone in the West, but in Islamic countries, it has a religious association.
Colours also have different meanings in different parts of the world, therefore. The aim should be to use web analytics to see where most of the visitors are coming from and see if colour choices are more likely to resonate with them in different ways.
- Focus on Layouts
The web development professional also needs to use well formed CSS to keep content separate from other designs. This makes it easier to switch the language of the content by swapping over the English text. You also need a character encoding that allows a wide range of language scripts. So, while developing sites across different cultures in the world, the layout of the site is critical. Different languages require more or less space for text. For instance a paragraph in German language takes up the additional space as opposed to a para in English. Hebrew is read from right to left, unlike Western languages like English. Some language scripts may even require bigger line heights.
Even the navigation menu’s positioning depends on the language used. A left-hand navigation menu may not work for someone who reads from the right side. One way out is using a horizontal navigation structure across the page’s top. Staying aware of the cultural differences of the website’s global audience ensures the site is well received, leading to a surge in traffic and prospects. Checkouts, cart abandonment rate, or even sales clinched can often be influenced by language barriers.
- Managing Global Web Development
Managing global web design is not easy. No matter how hard the effort is to nail down corporate brand guidelines, landing pages need to be designed keeping more than just a standard template in mind. Consider the examples of French and UK retail sites. While John Lewis in the UK has a design which focuses on clear impersonal feel, French brand Pixmania focuses on the use of family photos and products in terms of their use. While French retail sites feature a prominent pricing, British ecommerce is more subtle about the cost. French web design is energetic and bold while UK sites focus on minimal designs. On the other hand, cultures like China score on paternal attitudes and power differentials. These are collectivist cultures where the focus is on the long term picture.
So, in China, a web developer needs to incorporate these differences, as individuals may be less inclined for a long term relationship with the brand. Chinese viewers are less inclined to look at individuals; the focus is on groups and male protagonists. So, culture affects different facets of the business, including cultural attitudes to the industry one operates in.
- Building a Brand
It is important to note if the country has a strong brand image or is known for strength in particular sectors, facets feed into the general culture identity. Germany is perceived to be strong in the engineering sector, and brands like Siemens, Mercedes, Porsche and therefore, align themselves with this market perception. Researching cultural attitudes in the industry provide existing cultural signifiers which can be adopted into the brand asset.
- Why Web Developers Should Design for Different Cultures
Conducting online searches for local brands that offer the same goods or services is a way to check what competitors are doing. But for a web developer, the focus should be on gaining insights about the local market, while designing for different cultures. Some cultural snippets can integrate into the design and development strategy to craft a site that understands the nuances. Even if a developer uses a template, it is important to consider which aspects of brand assets are flexible. Factors like grids, alignment and templates can be still more effective if localised.
Cross-cultural design is really relevant today, as distinct regional and cultural identities emerge and more companies are expanding client base and reach across cultural, linguistic and national boundaries. For succeeding in a fresh target market, international brands need to consider linguistic, regional and cultural differences across not just offline, traditional marketing materials, but also online assets like landing pages and websites. Design elements can help in creating a site that showcases brands in a culturally sensitive manner.