How to internationalise your website

Internationalisation means creating a single version of a website, usually in English, that is appropriate for a wide range of international users. Here are just a few tips to consider when developing your website that is aimed at international visitors. The principles below easily apply to American, UK, Australian, New Zealand and South African markets.

Having your website in American English when you try to reach an Australian audience will not go down too well with your prospective customers in Australia! It makes sense to learn more about your target market and the easiest way to do it is to make sure that your website speaks to them in a language they can understand and easily relate to. Here are some tips on how to go about it:

  1. Get to know your audience, their needs and expectations. Where are they from? What languages do they speak? What do they buy from you?
  2. Structure your website in a way that is easy to navigate, with headings, subheadings, short paragraph and succinct sentences.
  3. Ensure the text is written in a simple, easy to understand language that does not contain ambiguities. Avoid culturally specific graphics and language that contains acronyms, idioms, abbreviation and slang.
  4. Maintain consistency of terminology throughout the text, especially when referring to the same concepts in different areas of your web site.
  5. Use a variety of date, currency, tax, measurement, sizing and postage formats.
  6. Design forms to accommodate various address formats, including telephone numbers, post codes and states or provinces.
  7. Provide your international visitors with Frequently Asked Questions or Fact Sheets that aim to answer most of their questions in simple, concise and easy to understand English.
  8. Translate essential parts of your website.
  9. Test, review and monitor your enquiries and conversion rates.