John Yunker, president of Byte Level Research, has tasked the company he co-founded to scour thousands of enterprise Web sites in search of best practices. The 200+ page Web Globalization Report Card is chock full of the kind of useful and pertinent information that enterprise manufacturers need to move forward in the global village, and he was nice enough to share a few with us.
IW: What makes Caterpillar the best global Web site among manufacturers?
John Yunker, president, Byte Level Research: For starters, Caterpillar excels in global navigation - that is, directing Web users to their local content. When you visit cat.com you'll find a splash global gateway page. This page is very effective in ensuring that non-native English speakers find their local Web sites. Country names are presented in the user's language and there is no preference exhibited toward any one country. Many sites instead use long pull-down menus of country names, typically placing the United States at the top of the list, which is not only difficult to use but alienating to those Web users outside of the US.
Caterpillar also uses a global design template across all localized Web sites. Whether you visit the France site or the Japanese site, you will find consistent branding, navigation, and color scheme. Not only is this consistency beneficial from a marketing perspective, it is easier to maintain from a global Web services perspective.
Depth and breadth of translated content is also a key differentiator. Caterpillar supports 14 languages, putting it ahead of many sites within this sector. While GE leads the sector with support for 17 languages, it suffers from poor global navigation and lack of translated content on certain sites. (Editor's note: Many sites from other sectors supported more than 30 languages.)
As a whole, the manufacturing sector has generally been slow to embrace Web globalization. And this is because business deals are often facilitated between in-country representatives who already speak the language. But companies are increasingly finding that supporting the target country's native language helps a company develop new leads and broaden its reach far beyond what individual company representatives can accomplish.
IW: So how many languages should a company support these days?
Yunker: It all depends on the company's strategy, but if your goal is to communicate with roughly 80% of the world's Internet users, you need to support the following 10 languages:
- Chinese (simplified)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
For the full report, visit: http://bytelevel.com/reports/global2007/
Web Globalization Report Card
The following chart shows the relative strengths or weaknesses of several major manufacturers' Web sites as scored on how they rate on service to international markets. The scores were tabulated by Byte Level Research as part of its Web Globalization Report Card.
|Source: Byte Level Research|