When building a multi-national e-commerce website, it’s important for visitors to experience the website in their own language and to be able to make purchases in their own currency. But what if the visitor does not see or indeed understand the drop down menus, which enable the Language and Currency switches. Would it not be better to default to the individual visitors’ standards, even before they see the website? Of course it would. At RocketScienceWeb.com, we offer this ability, which enables far more traffic to your international website, with improved user experience.
There are fewer currency considerations than linguistic considerations. The first step is for the website owner to choose a base currency in which to receive funds, for instance, US dollars. Typically, the website owner would pick other major currency options such as the euro, British Pounds Sterling and/or Chinese Yuan. In this instance, four currencies are offered. The widget accesses the visitor’s IP address to determine their location. A visitor in France, would see 110 Euros, if the initial cost is $120. E-commerce platforms such as Shopify convert currencies internally. We take it a step further by implementing various degrees of rounding, so that French visitors see the above rounded price and are spared the confusing $109,67 Euro price. But what happens if one’s ocation currency is not available? In these cases, your base currency appears. For instance, visitors in Israel, would see dollars as their currency, assuming Shekels were not selected as an option by the web designer. If the product sells for $120, Israeli visitors would see $120 as the price. Of course, visitors can select an alternative currency, when available. A travelling businessperson may wish to pay in their home currency and we offer this option.
We base the default language on the visitor’s browser language selection. For instance, an Italian travelling to California would still see the website in Italian, assuming Italian is their selected browser language. Utilizing browser language, rather than IP address for default language also has the advantage of offering those not residing in their country of origin, a more familiar language, as the default. For instance, native Spanish-speakers in the USA may appreciate the cultural sensitivity of having Spanish as the default language and therefore may be more prone to buy from the website.
Human vs. Robotic Translators
We also set a base language, which is typically the most widely understood, by global web visitors. The next choice is whether to use a machine-based translator such as Google Translate or a human translator, the latter being superior at the current time, but perhaps not forever. We utilize a two-pronged approach; Google Translate is initially used, but after the website is ‘finished’, we recommend a human translator. The problem is that finishing a website is a metaphysical concept, since even mature websites are often changed. Therefore, before utilizing human translators, it’s advisable to be far along in your text content creation, otherwise, you’ll have the nightmare of managing multiple translations on multiple occasions. It’s also worth using a professional translator or translating service. Amateur writers often don’t write as well as they think they do.
SEO & OTHER LANGUAGE CONSIDERATIONS
Websites always have two audiences, human and robotic, meaning SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or how you will rank in organic search. Producing a human translation is a great start. Your next step should be utilizing a global TLD (top level domain) which is geographically universal, such as a .com, .edu (for teaching institutions) or .org (for non-profits). Next, create separate pathway for your target country and the target language within the country. For instance, Switzerland has several official languages. We recommend the following URL structure.
www.example.com/ch/fr/ — Switzerland, French or www.example.com/ch/it/ — Switzerland, Italian
For those whose native language is not available on your website, the default language, often English, is selected. The website visitor can always change this to a language to a more familiar one, via the language selector. If you’re not sure where your web visitors are located, Google Analytics can provide these answers. Even languages with a non-Roman alphabet, such as Chinese, Russian, Arabic or Hebrew may be selected, the latter two being written right to left!
For an example of a currency and language switching website, visit SorianoMotori.com., recently built by RocketScienceWeb.com.
Different strokes for different folks. Power to the people. Provide a comfortable user experience for your precious website visitors, in their own language and in their own currency and the big bucks will follow.