It is a little surprising how many companies in Vancouver describe themselves as global, or as serving an international client base, or as international, without supporting any sort of secondary language on their website. Not even French, some of them! But in the spirit of encouraging effort, and inspiring further engagement, let’s look at some of the globalized websites in Vancouver, in no particular order, that are exploring multilingual content on their websites, to see what they get right in terms of localization, and what they could do better.
Globalized Websites in Vancouver: Lululemon
lululemon has an undeniably attractive website, and they have a good navigation system to set your country. Unfortunately it only sets your shipping preferences, and doesn’t provide any translations or localized content. There is one exception: Canadian French is supported. The site looks very nice in French! There are no untranslated images or headlines. They even let you know that if you sign up for their newsletter it only comes in English. It would be great to see this repeated in other languages.
YVR has an easy mechanism for switching between English, French, and simplified Chinese. There are no missing headlines or image text; YVR has even made an attempt to localize images by customizing them for each language, which shows some added thought. Well done! Once again it would be great to see this repeated for more languages.
It’s easy to switch between German, Mandarin and Japanese on the Ballard website – but how do you get back to English? As visually pleasing as they are, you have to be a little bit careful with flags for navigation; they can make some people feel excluded – German-speaking Austrians, for example. The quality of the translations seems to be good, however only the body text is translated, not the menus, and only the “About Ballard” page is available in translation, so the site isn’t quite as pretty or informative if you don’t speak English.
The menu on the Creation Technologies site allows you to switch quickly between English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. Unfortunately the information that’s available is limited to the static content on the page – the blog is only available in English. Not surprising – it’s a bigger undertaking to set up ongoing translation for a blog. But it can definitely be worth it, to keep your customers up to speed.
On the surface, the Alpha Technologies site looks great. It supports so many languages! The dozens of flags are a bit of a red herring though. The problem is that the site simply provides an embedded Google Translate selection. We love Google Translate, and it is great for what it is, but we would definitely not recommend it for a business website. You don’t see Google suggesting you use Google Translate content for their own website do you? There must be a reason…
Due to the same Google Translate approach, text that’s embedded in images doesn’t translate, and since those images function as part of the menu it could limit some visitors from properly navigating the site.
The website for Dassault Systemes provides four languages: English, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish, with an easy mechanism to switch between them. The site has good coverage as well: Text embedded in images is translated, as are headlines. The only thing missing is the blog, which, again, is a larger undertaking in terms of maintenance.
It’s nice to see a large number of languages supported on the Absolute Software site. The websites are mostly easy to navigate between, and use human translation. One thing that could be improved: The Turkish page uses an unsupported font, which causes the occasional “1” to show up in a headline instead of the correct character. The depth of the content varies depending on your language as well; French and German get quite comprehensive sites, while Spanish (Chile) and Korean are very shallow and only offer a handful of sentences over a few pages.
Alterra‘s site provides four languages including English, plus an Icelandic site in English. The quality of the translations is good; the content that’s translated is limited basically to the About Us page, which is ok if that’s the most you can manage. Better to have one solid page than dozens of messy ones. But of course they could go further by providing more of the experience of their main site instead of just a static page, and putting a plan in place to update the content periodically.