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.

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | All 5 Pages

What is clear, say experts, is that the solution to maintaining a global web presence is the same as maintaining a large web site: a web content management system (WCMS). There are a number of reasons for that.

Typically, a WCMS will use a template-based approach to serving content, so designers can develop a standard 'look' for a site into which content is inserted for each page. By developing templates that are appropriate for international markets as well as the domestic market, the same content can be reused where appropriate without having to be rewritten.

A WCMS can also ensure branding remains consistent across international sites by providing a central repository of images that can be used and a permissioning system: so, for instance, only one logo might be available for use and only authorised users can change it or upload a new image or logo.

A WCMS' workflow system can move content between users for writing, editing and eventual approval, so that content is only published on the web site if it meets the organisation's policies on branding and so on. And 'blueprinting', 'cloning' and other similar WCMS technologies provide easy ways to create new sites by copying existing ones and then changing particular settings.

Lastly, and most importantly for some organisations, web page authoring no longer needs to be done by webmasters or IT departments but can be performed by any authorised business user with simple tools such as a web browser or Microsoft Word, thus freeing up bottlenecks and reducing the need for large numbers of highly trained staff to maintain an up-to-date web presence.

But for a global presence, organisations need to look for more features in a WCMS. It must be able to display and store content in languages other than English. The interface of the WCMS must be localised as well, in order that any users in local offices that have to author content for the site will be able to use the system.

Fortunately for buyers, the maturing WCMS market has meant that more and more vendors are providing systems localised in many languages other than English.

While the costs involved in buying the hardware and software required for a WCMS, training users, getting content into the system from an existing distributed infrastructure and then deploying it may seem high, the payback is usually quick, even if the only savings initially are from the reduced cost of hosting so many once-separate web sites on a single centralised platform.

However, the biggest issues surrounding global web site deployment surround culture and management. In many instances, organisations already have sites for some local markets, and these need to be integrated into the new infrastructure and the processes surrounding its use.

Lessons from the floor

Global web sites: Easier in theory than in practice

"It was a bit of a stretch initially. Our biggest problem was getting IT solutions that scale. Most solutions will scale, but not at the 30-40% rate year on year that Dell does. We also had a fourfold increase in staffing levels as we moved from a US-centric approach to a local approach."
Colin Greene, head of e-content for Dell Europe. The Dell Europe site is now 400,000 pages - four times the US site.

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | All 5 Pages

Interested in commissioning a similar article? Please contact me to discuss details. Alternatively, return to the main gallery or search for another article: