The few bright spots in the earning reports for American companies these days are those who are making gains in international markets. The up swing in profits from abroad is offsetting declines in their domestic markets.
This underlines the growing importance of international audiences for web sites. You need to identify the specific business outcomes you hope to achieve with them and then create sites that focus on that in a way that works for those people from abroad.
In communicating across borders with a web site, there are three criteria you can use to evaluate each audience.
1. Language. If your site communicates with business people and/or professionals, do they speak the native lanaguage of your web site in day-to-day business? If so, you may be able to get away without translating. If not, look at what language will work best for each audience.
2. Transactions. If you collect data or conduct ecommerce transactions via your site, what impact will different international audiences have on the fields you use? Are there privacy laws and regulations you will need to comply with? Again, look at similarlities and differences across all of your international audiences.
3. Culture. This is the tough one. Look for cultural similarities and differences among your international audiences. Do they respond the same way to the same imagery? Is your humorous ad campaign in the home country highly offensive in others? Cross-cultural analysis and testing will help to reveal issues such as this.
Assessing these three characteristics among your international audience and against your home-country web presence will help you to identify which audiences can get by with your existing presence and which may need highly tailored efforts to support them and your desired outcomes.