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Monday, April 22, 2013

Using a Global Landing Page to Direct Visitors to Your Localized Sites

A global landing page for your organization’s website is an easy way to welcome international users and help them find content tailored to their needs. Such a page, with links to translated or fully localized versions of your site, is therefore an effective method for increasing the number of visits your localized sites receive. A landing page that accommodates even a fraction of the 84 percent of Internet users outside the United States can also help to enhance your global brand.1

To serve any part of this large international audience, your landing page must be designed with localization best practices in mind. Engage your language service provider (LSP) to fully understand and implement the following best practices:

  • Keep it simple. Simplicity is important for domestic landing pages, but is especially critical for global pages. “Excessive information and choices such as unnecessary links, navigation options, or buttons—especially those that lead elsewhere—distract from your call to action.”2 That call to action on your global landing page is for the visitor to click the link that leads to the appropriate version of your site. The page should be as uncluttered, from both a visual and technological standpoint, as possible. A clean design helps reduce the page’s load time and ensures that it can be displayed on a variety of devices. 
  • Provide translated language and country names. This guideline may sound like common sense, but the results of a Google search for “global landing page” reveal that it is not. Put yourself in the place of your international visitors: “Inglês” and “英語” both mean “English,” but it is difficult to choose the English option if you are not familiar with the language the options are written in. Make your global landing page easy to use by providing the localized spelling of each option on your page. Use Unicode (UTF-8) encoding to ensure that your page can display all character sets. 
  • Account for countries that have multiple official languages. If you have more than one localized site for a country, such as English and French versions of a Canadian site, be sure that your global landing page conveys the availability of these sites. For example, Canada (English–Français) could represent the Canadian versions of your site, with the language names linking to their respective translations. In the case of a country like Switzerland, whose name is spelled differently in each of its official languages, you could use Schweiz–Suisse–Svizzera, with the German, French, and Italian translations of Switzerland, respectively, linking to the translated versions of your site. 
  • Guard against “false advertising.” Be sure that the content of your global landing page is an accurate reflection of the localized versions of your site available to your international visitors. Do not include translated names of countries or languages for which you do not have localized content.

After the visitor has selected the appropriate version of your site, the functionality of the global landing page should still be accessible. For companies with localized sites, it has become common practice to put either a pop-up or pull-down menu in the right corner of the site header indicating the visitor’s current choice and containing the same options as the landing page. Having an icon, such as a map or globe, next to this menu serves as a universal visual cue of its purpose and eliminates the need to translate phrases like “Select location/language” into each of your target languages. After the visitor selects a version of your site, consider using a browser cookie to remember the visitor’s language and location choice for future visits.

Although the appearance and content of your global landing page should reflect your corporate image, following these guidelines when designing the page helps to ensure that your international customers are left with a positive impression of your organization.

References:
1 Power to the Consumer: How Web Technology Is Influencing Behaviour, Euromonitor International: Strategy Briefing, February 2009.
2 Belicove, Mikal E. Graceful landing. Entrepreneur. November 2009.

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Merrill Brink International, a leading language services provider with more than 30 years of experience, offers comprehensive, scalable internationalization, localization and globalization services for global companies. Our services include professional business translation, document translation, technical translation, website translation and more. We provide expert software localization and website localization services, supported by comprehensive testing services, including software testing and website testing. Merrill Brink is a recognized leading provider of software translation, medical translation and automotive translation. We also offer extensive legal document translation services including legal document review and machine translation. Contact us for more information.