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Web Globalization

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Organizations of all sizes today are competing globally to win and maintain customers. Entering foreign markets offers many benefits but can also present a wide array of new challenges. In today's fast-growing global markets, the Web provides unrivaled savings, speed and ease of entry when approaching foreign markets.

In the past, many organizations launched foreign market Web sites by simply providing translated domestic Web site content that often lacked the depth needed to effectively penetrate a foreign market. From a branding perspective, leading companies can leverage Web Content Management (WCM) tools to centralize messaging and then localize the delivery of their messages.

Content translation is the starting point of any Web site localization effort. After all, without the ability to articulate business value in the local language, even the most basic messages will not be effective on the Web.

But a key element for localization is cultural appropriateness. This can present a greater challenge than translation because it includes a greater number of items that can be misinterpreted including language nuances, interpretation of graphics and pictures, country-specific laws and regulations.

Web Content Management Systems (CMS) have evolved to enable organizations to localize their Web sites without changing the way they develop content. Editors can leverage a CMS to make localization a natural part of content creation. CMS solutions that manage localization efforts well do so by weaving localization features into version control, check-in and check-out and work flow processes.

When reviewing a CMS provider's solution, companies should examine the following:

  • Ability to manage the localization process in work flow.

  • Ease of use for international content contributors.

  • Ability to automatically alert content localization managers to changes in source content.

  • Ability to scale across an organization's international operations so that content personnel and code teams can work with the same solution in each location.
    The benefits of a well thought-out CMS solution include the ability to:

  • Deliver optimal user experiences that speak to the needs of unique local markets.

  • Gain significant contributions from local employees.

  • Establish a local presence with partners.

  • Ensure quality and consistency in messaging, brand and image.

  • Leverage the best messaging, marketing tactics and strategies consistently across all markets.

With the ability to personalize and package content locally for each global market, organizations that use a CMS can feel secure in their ability to maximize Web site effectiveness ensuring that cultural and legal miscues are avoided, while the effectiveness of the message is preserved allowing an organization's global image to emerge.

Stefanie Lightman is VP-marketing at RedDot, New York. She can be reached at stefanie.lightman@reddot.com.

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