We see plenty of articles talking about web design trends at this time of year, but very few that mention localisation; this is particularly interesting, as one of the most important trends in the internet world is of brands expanding overseas. With this in mind, we are dedicating an article to the website localisation trends you need to know for the year ahead.
Whether you’re on the verge of entering a new market or gearing up to take on international audiences in the next few years, these are the key points you need to consider.
The web design trends you know are not global
The first thing you need to know about website localisation in 2016 is that the web trends you’ll read about online are not global. Visit websites from around the world and you’ll see design trends aren’t up to date in many places, which means they’ll be unexpected to many users.
Petrobras – Brazil’s leading energy firm
Canal+ – French TV provider
Gazprom – Russia’s leading energy firm
El País – Spanish newspaper
None of the examples above are optimised for mobile use or feature any design trends you may have read about in the last half a decade. You need to ask yourself which web design trends your new audiences are ready for, rather than go for features simply because they look impressive.
Designing for global devices and internet connections
As the mobile web dominates internet access in both developed and developing countries, a gulf in device capabilities has emerged. Not everyone owns one of the latest, most powerful smartphones on the market or enjoys lightning-fast internet connections: if you overload your website with flashy design trends, you risk alienating a large percentage of your new market.
Take Malaysian start-up GrabTaxi as an example (Southeast Asia’s answer to Uber). Its website is far more visually appealing and up-to-date than the examples we’ve looked at so far.
GrabTaxi – Malaysia’s international taxi-booking app
Localisation is important to the firm too, given that it caters to six countries across the subcontinent. The website functions smoothly if you have a good internet connection, but things don’t work out too well if you rely on a mobile data connection in the heart of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, for example, even on one of the best phones in the industry.
The point is, design trends have nothing to offer if people can’t see them, or if they take so long to load people give up. You should always consider the kind of device and internet connection your target audience will have.
The rise of online video localisation
If video is the driving force of online content (and it is) then video localisation plays a starring role. The brands that really nail international marketing in 2016 will invest in localised videos, featuring the day-to-day lives and problems of their target audiences. This means fresh footage for the US market, India, China, Argentina and every other distinct culture in your marketing objectives.
Shots of local scenery and people are essential to establishing that native feel to your brand. The challenge for firms this year will be keeping these ambitious video campaigns cost-effective, and this is where you’ll need to be resourceful with your video shoots and make the most of voiceovers or subtitles.
This is vitally important for brands with an international audience; not only can it make search functions like Airbnb’s faster, it creates that homely feel for users – no accident for an accommodation start-up sporting the tagline, “Welcome home”.
You can use this feature to direct traffic automatically to the version of your website in the user’s language or to deliver content variations. For example, users in Mexico and Colombia will want to access the same language, but you can still deliver localised content for those individual nations by targeting their location.
If we had to sum up website localisation trends for the year ahead, we would highlight how important it is that you don’t underestimate the diversity of your audiences. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the latest trends will sit well with overseas users or that their internet connections are strong enough to support them. Instead, you’ll need to make calculated decisions based on research and data to know what it takes to connect with every audience in your marketing ambitions.