It‘s not always easy to think globally, yet many of our site‘s visitors live abroad. In fact, most of them do. This has forced us to pack a lot of learning into a short time.
We edit and publish a monthly e-zine from tiny Greek island of Karpathos. Kafenio, which premiered in March 2000, focuses on European life and culture. The first step in thinking globally was to accept our classified ads in any language using Latin letters, so French, Spanish, German - no problem for our software.
Not so hard, is it?
That was an important decision for us. Living on a remote Aegean island as we do, surrounded by goats and cats, it would be easy to get tunnel vision and forget about rest of planet.
English is English, right? The first major conflict that punched us right in nose was British vs. American English. We then had a contributing writer from Australia, another journalist from Canada.
What to do? We made it our policy that each writer would stick to his/her native usage of English. No way did I want to ruin an article by Americanizing it. That‘s not global thinking. Savvy readers in Britain or elsewhere would spot that style slip-up a mile away. (I mean a kilometer away, no better make that kilometre. See what I mean?)
There is a vast difference between editing something for accuracy and acting like language police. No, we cannot please everybody and we cannot spend every waking moment trying to. But to reach out to a global audience, we have to willing to widen our thinking.
Global excitement Recently we decided to run banner ads in languages other than English and this kicks off in July issue with one German and one Russian banner. It‘s a start of something exciting and we think we can expand on our idea as time goes on. Not every improvement to a site or e-zine has to occur overnight.
Oops! Do most sites truly think and act globally? No. I can‘t count times I have tried to sign up for free subscriptions to newsletters or zines, only to be rejected because I didn‘t fill in my state and zip code correctly. Or that my phone number did not fit (American) format. This oversight is going to turn off not just me--with a Greek address and phone number--but other potential customers around world as well.