A decade ago, English was the internet’s lingua franca and foreign language content was sparse on the web. However, towards the end of the last decade, web population growth in emerging markets has resulted in greater levels of multilingual content being created. One growth contributor to the volume of multilingual content are global brands and prominent internet companies who aim to gain market share in fast-growing, less competitive markets.
Improving infrastructure in Asian and South American economies has led to large scale government initiatives to get their population online. The languages spoken in those specific regions have seen drastic increase in content availability online. As foreign language speakers grow in numbers, the more content in their specific language is being created online. For some businesses, this presents an excellent opportunity to target global consumers using the Internet. The main concentration of online expansion to foreign markets should be the website, the languages it should support and how the website should be designed.
Web users from different parts of the world have differing characteristics and websites should be created to cater to their particular needs. This involves changing website navigation, imagery and site logic to make the website relevant for a foreign web audience. Websites for foreign language users should be created by country rather than by language because the same language can vary from one country to another. A website in Spanish would not be as effective as a website targeted for users in Mexico due to the subtle differences in Spanish spoken in the Latin American country. Generic language use is more likely to put off users than encourage them to buy from a website.
Growing Language Support
The top websites on the Internet are increasing the number of languages they support. Website globalization is now a mainstream activity and a large number of businesses will support multilingual content to gain a foothold in foreign markets. The primary focus of multilingual support is business-to-customer driven while business-to-business features highly too amongst the websites which support multilingual content.
Some sectors like retail and commercial banking are leading the way in operating multilingual websites. This is because they have a greater requirement for communication with consumers and other similar industries are following in their footsteps.
The on-going development of multilingual content on the web should be backed by insight and know-how of the target market. This will help develop a strong brand reputation brand online and increase its prospects for success to another audience. The aim should be to create content specific for the audience and this is why localization is a must.