Investing time, money, and energy in website translation isn’t enough to capture customers in new target markets, especially when you fail to give global visitors a clear path to the site in the languages they require.
Even if you’ve invested in proper website marketing — discussed in the first half of our series on common website localization failures — site usability challenges may impede global visitors from ever finding the right site version. Let’s explore these surprisingly simple, all-too-common user experience (UX) failures that drive down the ROI of website localization.
Failing to Provide a Global Gateway
Modern global websites often detect the user’s geographical location or the browser’s language settings and route the user to appropriate localized site. But you should also provide site visitors with an opportunity to select which site to visit, commonly known as a global gateway. If an American expat in India wants to buy a birthday gift for her brother back home using Amazon’s US site, she needs a global gateway to find the US site without being redirected to the Indian site.
Hiding the Global Gateway
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the global gateway needs to be easily findable, especially if it’s the primary way of getting global visitors to the right site. But if your site detects language settings or geolocation, the global gateway can go in less valuable real estate “below the fold.” For example, Amazon.in puts the global gateway at the page bottom with other lower-priority navigation links.
Listing Localized Sites in the Source Language
Now, imagine you’re in Japan and want to navigate to Amazon’s US site. This is what you see.
The problem is clear enough: it’s difficult to navigate to your preferred site, when it’s not labeled in the target language. Not only does your global gateway need to be present and visible for global site visitors, it also needs to be usable. IKEA’s global gateway covers all the bases by offering labels in both source and target languages.
Equating Flags with Languages
Sometimes, UX designers get creative in the quest to offer site versions in a compact, tidy manner that enables global visitors to recognize their intended sites: flags. That would be a great idea if every country had exactly one distinct language, but we all know Spanish and Portuguese are most commonly spoken throughout the Americas — so are those users supposed to recognize flags from Spain and Portugal? Flags may also unintentionally politicize your shopping experience in the case of regional disputes over which government rules a given territory.
Too Many Clicks
One of the worst sins in website design is a common complaint in global gateway design: making site visitors click more than one or two times to reach their preferred site version. Users don’t want to think about the logistics of operating your site: they want to think about your offerings.
For the best returns on your website translation investment, make sure site visitors can find your global gateway and the appropriate localized site version quickly and easily from the moment they land on your website.