Mais Oui, Customers Want Web Sites To Speak Their Language
We live in a multicultural and multilingual world, and even in the United States it is not uncommon for us to see things in more than one language.
From television shows to mortgage lending pamphlets at the local bank branch to news Web sites like CNNwhich is available in more than 10 languageseverywhere you turn you see examples of information available in several languages. Technology has forced us to become more globally aware than ever before. For example, when was the last time you saw an ATM where transactions could only be conducted in English?
Today, a companys constituencies (brokers, salespeople, partners andmost importantlycustomers) prefer being reached in their native languages. For companies in any industry, whether multinational or local, addressing customers in their language is a matter of courtesy, as well as competitive advantage. Extending that commitment to one of any companys most crucial customer interfacesits Web siteis a key step in building a unified global brand, boosting customer satisfaction and increasing sales.
With many technology projects, the right approach is often counterintuitive. The same is true for Web “globalization,” which is how the industry characterizes building out multi-language Web sites. Translation–the knee-jerk answer to the Web globalization questionis just the tip of the iceberg. Translation is a commodity, and is readily accessible at a simple per-word price.
The real challenge comes when a Webmaster (or marketing staffer, or communications department, or whoever manages the site) gets their hands on page after page of translated content. How do they integrate it into the site, and where? More importantly, how do they manage the often daily changes that will occur to the master Web site, and which need to be reflected in each additional language?
Finally–and crucially, given the current spending climate and emphasis on technology ROI–how does a company keep costs in line with requirements? There are a few options, which basically correlate to the complexity of your Web site and your budget.
For complex Web sites that are transactional in nature, involve personalization and are highly dynamic, a custom solution may be the only answer. By working with translation service providers and large enterprise-level globalization tool providers, custom solutions can be built, redesigning your Web site platform and content to accommodate the specific needs of your business.
For dynamic content that changes very rapidly, multilingual content creation, which involves rebuilding a Web site using an enterprise-level content creation and management tool, may be advised.
While it is a complete solution, a custom option is a large-scale project, often costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and possibly taking months to build and implement. This type of solution is keyed to managing transactional e-commerce needs, and is probably an option that is limited to Global-2000-level corporations.
The other alternative, an off-the-shelf software package or ASP (application service provider) solution, is an effective way for smaller companiesor companies with more modest needsto build and manage multilingual sites. With the ASP model, companies are given access to the software over the Internet in exchange for a monthly or quarterly subscription fee. ASPs are generally much more cost-effective and can, depending on the size and scope of your Web site, solve the same multilingual development issues.