Danbury website layout design

Go Global! 5 Tips to Make Your Site’s Design Layout Friendly for International Users

Is your website’s design layout tailored to international users?

If the answer is no, you could be limiting your success. How so?

Only 25.3% of total internet users surf the web in English. In fact, even compiling the top ten languages would still only account for three-quarters of total internet users.

That’s a lot of potential.

For smaller businesses who wish to increase their market share, global optimization is the most accessible medium. By optimizing design layout, you can significantly raise the chances of exposure to international clients.

Not sure where to start? Read on for five web design must-dos for attracting global users.

1. Present Multiple Language Options

As stated above, 75% of web users do not speak English. Even more important is that 75% of these users will not purchase from a website unless the product description is in a language they understand.

If you’re looking to expand to the global market, content translation is an absolute necessity.

Here’s how to do it.

Human Translation

Free translation services are improving.

Still, they’re not perfect. Mistakes or nonsensical phrases are a surefire way to turn off visitors. At best you might amuse them, and at the worst, offend them.

You want your visitors to understand your brand message exactly, not just the general idea. Human translation is worth the investment.

Auto Language Detection

It’s now possible for your website to automatically display its pages in the language of the visitor.

While not strictly a design change, this does have a considerable knock-on effect on other design elements. We’ll touch more on this later.

Drop-Down Selection Boxes

If you opt against auto-language detection, a popular alternative option is to offer users a drop-down list of languages to choose from.

However, while many websites include a flag as a visual aid, we recommend against this. Flags are synonymous with nations, not languages. If a Brazilian customer must click a Portuguese flag, this may be off-putting.

A simple alternative is to refer to the language within the native tongue. For example, referring to Italy as Italia is an easy way to make the language options more visible and appealing to international consumers.

2. Use Compatible Web Fonts

Once you have integrated support for multiple languages, you must focus on design. The first step is to make sure that your web font is compatible with all the languages your website now supports.

The most commonly used fonts are likely to cover the majority of western languages. But if you expect users from countries like China or Russia, you’ll need fonts which cater to their character set.

We also recommend UTF-8. UTF-8 is the default website encoding system, so its use will mean your site is compatible with nearly every language you can think of.

3. Use Flexible Layouts

Regardless of the market, responsive web design is one of the major factors in website success for 2017. This is due to the wide range of devices used for browsing and how these can greatly affect the way content is displayed.

When we factor in additional languages, responsive layouts become even more critical for design layout.

Here are two reasons why.

Language Expansion

When translated into other languages, phrases can vary hugely in length. This can be a problem for your design layout, especially on mobile devices where screen size is already limited.

To counteract this, your design needs to be flexible to textual changes. Avoiding unsightly mishaps, such as overlapping text, will give international users more faith in your brand.

English is one of the least verbose languages. When translating to another language, it’s likely that the new text will take up more space. Exactly how much will be dependent on the language, but estimate around 35% expansion as a good rule.

A good web design will account for this by using white space to good effect. You’ll also need flexible elements which respond to screen and text size.

Script Direction

Languages with text written right-to-left must also be considered. Languages written in this way, such as Arabic, will massively affect your design.

If you’re likely to appeal to consumers speaking these languages, the best option is usually to flip all page elements horizontally.

This will require bi-directional layouts which mirror all the components of your website.

4. Pay Attention to Color

When designing a global-friendly website, color can be a troublesome issue. Color choice is a crucial component to design layout because color connotations vary across nations.

For example, in India red is associated with sensuality and spirituality. In Nigeria, it’s representative of aggression.

Don’t go crazy over these subtle meanings, but try to use colors best suited to your biggest traffic sources. If you’re unsure about which may work best, you can always run an A/B testing campaign to determine which brings the best conversions.

5. Use of Images

Images are an invaluable component of effective design layout. In fact, it’s estimated that 84% of communications will be visual by 2018.

To be clear, you must include images.

But when tailoring to a global market, be sure to limit the text that appears within them. Graphical text cannot be translated like written text, so avoid using key brand messages or essential information within images.

As with colors, images can have different meanings in different cultures. This is most salient for images which include people, especially those making hand gestures such as pointing. Make sure you assess any images for cultural sensitivity.

Design Layout for the Global Market

If you’re hoping to expand your client base to include international customers, improvements to design layout is the best place to start.

At OSO Web Studio we offer complete corporate web solutions including internationally tailored web design. Request a callback today!

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