The advantage of the Internet is that of being able to reach out to millions of users world-wide, which was unheard of just a few decades ago. This is why if you do have a business website that provides services or products, you should consider expanding to a more international market and working on a marketing strategy in other languages other than English.
Another aspect you should consider is that there is less competition on the foreign Internet market, so it is easier for your website to rank higher in the search engine page of Google or other search engines. However, what are your options if you have already got a website, which has been created for an English-speaking audience?
If you do decide to launch your website on the international Internet there are a few elements you should consider, in order to be able to adapt your website’s usability and design to be easily accessible to a foreign audience.
If you are lucky enough to have a website created and developed using Unicode, then you will not have much work to do, otherwise you will have quite a bit of changes to implement if you want it to make it accessible internationally.
Different languages have different alphabets, and Unicode is the best code to use as it supports a large number of scripts. By using UTF 8 you can develop your website for nearly all the non-English characters, as well as the Hebrew, Farsi and Cyrillic alphabets.
Some languages read from left to right, and this is an important aspect to consider when laying out your navigation bars. You can opt for horizontal navigation bars or change the menus around. However, this is a personal choice of how the web page looks like.
The content of you website is another element you should consider, as although it may not have an impact on the overall design it is an important aspect to take into account. You will have to translate all the content on your website and if possible by a professional translator. You can use free tools available on the Internet, but these will certainly not produce the same language quality and may even damage your website’s reputation.
Difference in culture is another element to consider, as different cultures view life differently. You should really get to know as much as you can about your audience and do some research on the different cultures. Cultures can be divided into low context cultures and high context cultures, with the former comprising the Scandinavian and Germanic ones, who prefer direct use of language, while the latter cultures that include Eastern populations prefer content that provides more stimulation with additional communication emphasis.
Color is a very important issue when designing a website for an international audience, as colors have definite meanings for different cultures. Take the example of the color red, which for western cultures inspires a sentiment of passion and fervor, while in South Africa it is a color that represents death. To be on the safe side choose more neutral colors for a background with dark typography, which should make everyone happy.