Logo Rob Buckley – Freelance Journalist and Editor

All around the world

All around the world

  • Article 7 of 26
  • M-iD, June 2004
Creating a global web site with international appeal places huge demands on both managers and technology.

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Creating a web presence that has equal appeal for audiences in different countries around the world is never easy. The expense of creating local points of presence is potentially massive; designing a look that will work in all markets is almost impossible; and getting all the local sites to reflect the same corporate message and brand - but tailored for local sensibilities - is a task that would intimidate even the most experienced information manager.

Cultural variations

What looks good to one culture can look awful to another. Here are some of the things that need to be remembered when designing web pages and workflows for other markets.


A black border on a web page indicates the author is in mourning.


Finns like lots of white space on their sites. They're also highly resistant to "full on" sales messages.


France has strict rules on marketing offers. Wordings such as "free upgrade" are very rarely allowed.


German words are longer: content is typically 30% longer than the English equivalent. To meet with legal requirements, web sites also need more disclaimers and links to privacy policies.


The Japanese prefer their web pages to be relatively busy and full of images. A black border around a page is insulting.


Spanish marketing departments always need to know the gender of anyone filling in a form on a web site.


Introducing a workflow system is one thing, getting the British to use it is another. According to one WCMS vendor, "while everyone in the UK thinks workflow is a good thing, the number of organisations that implement them is far lower here than in other countries. The attitude is: It's great for other people, just not for us."

Yet many multinational organisations do manage to deploy global web sites successfully. The secret of their success is a combination of technology and management.

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