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Mass Appeal

What to know before your website goes global

Got a website? Good start. But when dealing with global customers, you have to take a giant step further.

According to Internet World Stats, internet users who do not speak English now outnumber internet users who do. Constructing a successful global website-one that users can navigate effortlessly--is a must.

John Yunker, president of Escondido, California-based Byte Level Research, says language is only your first concern. "People often assume the most challenging aspect of web globalization is translation," he says, "but often it is such things as customer support, fulfillment and usability." Yunker offers these tips:

  • Ease your way into global markets. Start with one market or one language, and be consistent.
  • Build your site for speed. You may have a broadband connection at home, but most of the world connects to the internet through dial-up connections.
  • Feature more than just a few pages of translated content. You don't want to disappoint users who discover the site doesn't fulfill what it appears to promise.

"Test your site for international readiness," adds E. Smith Yewell, president and CEO of Welocalize in Frederick, Maryland. "For example, can it process foreign date, time and currency formats?"

Laurel Delaney runs GlobeTrade.com and LaurelDelaney.com, Chicago-based firms that specialize in international entrepreneurship.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the June 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Mass Appeal.

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