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RE: Designing a Global Site

From: Eric Jarvis <webmaster@Befrienders.org>
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 11:15:25 +0100
Message-ID: <5100A088600D3349B70A46A01419EC6201165B@SERVER.Befrienders.local>
To: <www-international@w3.org>

I've been developing a global site for the last two years, and whilst
I've found some very useful specific resources, there doesn't seem to be
a good comprehensive overview anywhere. I've starting preparing content
for one, but it will be a while before it's ready.

Flags are a definite non-starter, but the alternatives are all problems
too. Ideally one wants the name of the language in the language. Very
easy to do if they all use Latin characters, a problem if they don't.
Whilst one can represent them all in Unicode that is only useful if the
end user has a Unicode capable browser. This is not yet guaranteed to be
the case. Using gifs is cumbersome and no use to somebody using a text
only or text to speech browser.

On the other hand, language navigation is a secondary means of
delivering the correct language. You can use content negotiation to
supply the correct version of the site. However this leads to problems
if the visitor is using a browser set to a language other than their own
(which commonly occurs in our organisation, many visitors use the
computers in our central office) or if they are attempting to work
multilingually. At the moment we are relying on the fact that the vast
majority of visitors will arrive via a link in a language they can use,
or from a search done in their language of choice. We back this up by
plain text links in Latin characters, and will soon add to each page a
link to a Unicode AND gif language interchange page.

I have yet to hear of anyone who has a completely satisfactory method of
dealing with multiple languages.

The most important things we've learned. Pay for a top class translation
by a native speaker of the language. Get the translation checked
independently by another native speaker who also knows the subject
matter. Think carefully about what you will need translated, I had to
get the word "Arabic" in Arabic done separately since it wasn't in the
original translation (done before I started I hasten to add). Colour
code the translation so that it matches the web mark up. Then you can
keep the expertise focused where it belongs. The translator translates,
the web designers web set it. All the translator needs to know is keep
things the same colour, all the designer needs to know is that the big
red text is the title, etc. Using that system I'm currently working in
15 languages of which I speak only 3, and 5 of which I can't even
vaguely follow the alphabet.

The best place I've found to cover these issues, apart from this mailing
list, is www.webmasterworld.com. Which is very much based on dealing
with site promotion and search engines, but which has a wide ranging
international user base who have a lot of technical expertise and

Other sites I've found particularly useful.




I hope this helps a little.


eric jarvis

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Marlin, Robert [SMTP:Robert.Marlin@qwest.com]
> Sent:	Thursday, April 18, 2002 7:46 AM
> To:	www-international@w3.org
> Subject:	Designing a Global Site
> Importance:	High
> My name is Robert Marlin and I am an Interactive Information Architect
> for 
> Qwest Global Services.
> I was assigned a project to research common rules/guidelines for
> developing 
> truly international sites because many of our large clients are 
> establishing a global presence and want to design them properly.
> I have checked many sites and have come up empty. Is that because
> there are 
> no real guidelines set down yet? Or are they just hard to find.
> For example, I see many sites use flags to represent languages. I
> don't 
> feel that is appropriate, since how do you represent Spanish (Spain's
> flag, 
> Mexico's flag, Puerto Rico's flag, Brazil, etc.?) Whichever flag you 
> choose, you alienate the others. Flags are great for representing
> addresses 
> (office locations, etc.) - but not languages.
> What things are offensive to other cultures around the world - and
> should 
> be avoided?
> Even basic questions like -
> Do people in other countries prefer pulldowns? Do they prefer nav
> buttons 
> or do they use the search first?
> Any information you can point me to (any source that would list issues
> and 
> solutions or "things to think about" when designing International
> sites, 
> etc.) would be GREATLY appreciated.
> Thanks for your time.
> Robert Marlin
> Experience Architect
> Qwest Global Services
> 425 Technology Drive
> Malvern, PA 19355
Received on Thursday, 18 April 2002 06:17:38 UTC

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