In 2001, half users of Web do not speak English as a first language. What's more, number of non-English speaking newcomers is growing at a much faster rate than number of English speaking Internet newcomers. However, 80% of information on web is in English.
Should you make your web site available in languages other than English? If you are interested in reaching overseas markets and doing business with persons from other cultures, it's almost a necessity. As one expert pointed out, they call it World Wide Web because it represents international audiences.
If you are considering translating your site (and you do know that translation software is not a good choice, right?), consider following:
* If you have language skills, you can translate web site yourself. The QWERTY keyboard works for every language in world. However, if you are planning to translate to characters other than those found in Western alphabet, you will need a phonetic map (a software application that maps keyboard input into characters). For example, if you wanted to write "Tokyo" in Japanese, you would type in TOKYOO then hit space bar. The mapping software would show you two most likely characters. If they were not what you were looking for, you would hit space bar again and be shown all options that are available to you.
*You will need an international browser. Both Netscape and Explorer are available in international versions.
*Your operating system is an additional consideration. Windows 2000 is said to support all languages using a new standard called Unicode. Apple offers language kits that can be installed in MAC OS. If your web site is to contain sophisticated programming, you will also require international developmental tools (i.e. Japanese DreamWeaver, etc.)
*If you don't want to do your translation in-house, a localisation company can provide your translation services. A good localisation company will be using translators that not only speak language fluently, but also are familiar with culture and customs of target market. In America, for example, you would not use same marketing message to reach a twenty year old as you would use to reach a baby boomer. Nor would you use same language to market to a stay-at-home mom as you would use to reach a career woman. Similar differences occur within other cultures, and your translator must be familiar with culture of your target market.