I just happened to stumble over to the Facebook What’s New page and noticed the following:
Frickin finally! I was expecting this.
I knew that if Facebook really wanted to turn another corner and gain better traction with a world audience they’d have to translate (localize) their site for different languages and regions of the world. I’m sure this will cause a BIG bump in traffic.
It will be interesting to see how they integrate this with the platform.
If you have the dream of writing the next big Web application that takes the world by storm, I have a tip for you. Use Unicode. Make sure that every aspect of your Web infrastructure for your application supports the free flow of Unicode data.
What is Unicode? It is a type of character encoding that supports the widest variety of characters. If you you want your Web app to have a chance of correctly taking in English, Chinese, and Arabic characters, you want to use Unicode.
You may have seen the meta tag in your HTML tag with a reference to UTF-8. Yep that’s setting the character encoding to your page.
<meta http-equiv=“Content-Type” content=“text/html; charset=UTF-8” />
Unfortunately, there is soooooooo much more to the process and I don’t have the time to write about it all right now.
For now just trust me, make sure that you’re using Unicode (utf-8, a type of Unicode) everywhere. When I mean everywhere, I mean your browser, HTML, PHP, server, your database… everywhere. Ultimately, doing this now will save you a whole lot of time down the road.
TechCrunch has an interesting article acknowledging how Web apps are getting started up in the United States but cloned by others in countries across the world and sometimes vice versa.
For example, Kevin Rose started the very popular Web site Digg in the United States. In Canada, they have Verydig.
How much of this could be avoided if the Web application were to design itself for a global audience from the beginning? I wonder how many more customers Flickr is picking up because they globalized the reach of their site.
If you want to have a Web site that is used globally, you really can’t ignore the Mobile Web. Today India’s Economic Times reported…
The number of Indians accessing internet through their mobile phones is now over three times those using the PC to connect to the Web. India has 9.27 million internet subscribers as against 31.30 million users who access internet through their mobile handsets
You can’t ignore those numbers. If you want to spread your content and your brand across the world, the Mobile Web has to be on your radar.
It is truly a WORLD WIDE Web. You will get users from across the globe.
Flickr isn’t the only one realizing how much more effectively they can serve their global audience with localized versions of the site for specific areas of the world.
YouTube has just launched country specific sites for Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK.
I’d love to see how these localized sites have improved the traffic that both Flickr and YouTube are getting.
Angela Randall over at AllFacebook.com wrote a good post about her frustrations with Facebook not being designed better for a global audience.
She makes some great points like:
1. Seasons. If I write that I took a course with another Australian in Spring 2006 (ie: Sept, Oct & Nov 2006) that is going to mean an entirely different time of the year to an American Spring. Not to mention that not many countries outside the US use the term “Fall”. Why not just say the months? Then it’s the same for everyone.
I thought her post was appropriate considering my last post .
My Flickr account translated into Chinese (I think?)
If you haven’t already heard, this week Flickr released seven localized versions of their user interface. It is now available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and Portuguese. This is exciting news.
While Flickr may have some more issues to work out, I have a feeling this will play a huge role in Flickr more effectively attracting a much bigger global audience.
Yahoo! VP (and man who the Flickr team reports to) Bradley Horowitz, referring to the recent announcement, recently wrote in his blog, “Flickr is stupid, and late… but redeems itself.” I think we all can learn a lesson from this.
Isn’t it time that all of the popular Web 2.0 applications start moving in the direction of translating and localizing their interfaces? We should be building our applications from the beginning with the understanding that we at some point will be localizing the UI.
It is a WORLD WIDE Web. It won’t take a long for a Web app to get a world-wide audience.
When will Digg or Facebook follow Flickr’s lead? Back in November 2006, there was a post on the Digg blog about how they were internationalizing their databases by moving to UTF8. There has been no sign of Digg taking any big next steps.