The Internet becomes more and more popular all over the world. People use it for communication, business or just to look for the information they need. The Internet is a truly global thing. I would say that it is the most global thing you could ever find today. But how many people can say this thing about their own sites?
The Internet gives website designers and owners huge possibilities to make a website international and well-known all over the world. So, when creating a multicultural website, it is better to make a little effort to ensure that it covers the widest audience possible. Even if you start with targeting a home market, it is much better to consider a bigger audience when you design your site so that it would be easier to convert it to multicultural audience from all over the world in future.
For web designers, the key considerations throughout the design stage are such issues as colour and layout, as well as formatting and navigation of the website. These features help attracting users’ attention and interest them in using the website. When making a multicultural website, web designers should also think about its language.
Only 22% of web surfers are native English speakers. Of course, other Internet users might also know English, better or worse, but it is a statement that people prefer to use websites written in their native language. And it is hard to contend with this. So, when making your multicultural website, don’t forget about language variety as any language is a tool for transferring your thoughts and words to people’s brains without surgery. Use this powerful tool and make your website multicultural.
Fancy graphics and cool colour schemes will certainly help you promote your site to the masses effectively – but ultimately, the old rule that “content is the king of any website” certainly works for most of the contemporary sites. Keeping that in your mind, even if you are planning to build your website in English only, using Unicode from the very beginning will be a good start for good positioning to the further adaptation of your pages for other languages.
Unicode is the only sensible character-set option that makes the website able to support different scripts. And the UTF-8 encoding is compatible with more than 90 languages and it has a range of over a hundred thousand different characters supported. So, by using it you will certainly increase the possibility of making a multicultural website.
It is also important to make your own research into each target market you want to cover with your business. Different groups (cultural, age-based, ethnic ones) have different preferences and expectations and, correspondingly, they look for completely different things while searching the Web. But, of course, before starting with your research, you should remember that your business should be oriented to one definite market sector which will be your main target audience. So, when creating a multicultural website you need to make a research about the same market sector in other countries and cultures as well.
One of the recent analytical researches inspected consumers from different cultures which are characterized with mostly implicit communication, often non-verbal and ruled by the customs of social behaviour, such as Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. It has shown that these customers pay more attention to the context of a website, such as imagery and the brand popularity, than consumers from other countries researched, where communication is mostly verbal and direct, and the meaning of the message is always included in its words, such as Western Europe.
There is one more condition of making a multicultural website well-known and easy-to-find. Visibility is everything on Internet. You might have the most beautiful and distinctive website in the world, but if nobody can find it on web, there is no point to be out there. And that is why search engine optimization (SEO) plays such a critical part of any content strategy.
When optimizing your site for international markets, never translate your keywords directly. Each language has its own features and specific words to attract people, but it does not mean that direct translation will be that hook you need.
So, here you have basics of multicultural web design. Feel free to use them for your project and you will definitely achieve the desired success!