English-Only Websites Finding Fewer Buyers Abroad

"Basically, two-thirds of the world online audience within a few years will be non-English-speaking," said Preston Dodd, an analyst at Jupiter Communications Inc. in New York. For example, Jupiter predicted in a recent report that the number of Internet users in Latin America would grow from 9 million people today to 38 million within three years.

And if companies expect to do business outside the U.S., Dodd said, they need to offer support for foreign languages and cultures, because customers in other countries may not have patience for English-only sites much longer.

The expected shift away from English as far and away the dominant language on the Web presents businesses with more than just the challenge of translating content. Local customs and standard data formats, for example, make designing non-English Web sites tricky.

"Different countries and cultures use different lengths of characters in address lines, different forms of salutation, special characters and credit-card variances," according to a white paper on global e-commerce released last June by the Software and Information Industry Association in Washington.

Cinda Voegtli, president and CEO of ProjectConnections.com in Los Altos, California, said her Web-based project management consulting group is being asked more and more to provide non-English content and links to existing English-language Web sites. One key to having successful multilanguage sites, Voegtli said, is to have partners in other countries help produce the content.

In fact, that kind of arrangement was seen as a key driver behind Spanish Internet firm Terra Networks SA's agreement this month to buy Lycos Inc., a Waltham, Massachusetts-based Web portal firm, in a deal valued at $US12.5 billion.

Santa Clara, California-based Yahoo Inc. is also organized along those lines. Yahoo's sites are country-specific and are developed to abide by the unique laws of each country. In addition, the company's programmers live and work in the countries that their Web sites target, a company spokesman said.

Yahoo also programs its search engines for country-specific sites to account for idiomatic differences between countries in which variations of the same language are spoken. For example, in Spain, the word for computers is ordenadores. But in Mexico, the word is computadoras. "We're paying attention to the difference," said Marisa Maldonado, Yahoo's marketing manager for Latin America.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?