Are You Ready To Go International?
Although North Americans were the dominant population on the Internet, that has now changed, and the rest of the world has caught up rapidly. And while English is still the most widely used Internet language, it's not the language of choice for many, many Internet users.
So are YOU ready to communicate in this international medium? Whether you're building your own Web site, taking part in discussion groups, visiting a chat room, or just sending and receiving e-mail, you'll meet more and more "foreigners" on the Internet - and vice versa, of course.
Let's look at some tips for communicating effectively in this new global village.
1. Write in plain English
Write clearly, with small words and short sentences. If you're writing long messages or creating long Web pages, include a simple summary at the top.
Be very careful to write exactly what you mean. If you're writing for a general audience, avoid sarcasm, colloquialisms and other things that rely on a certain tone of voice or cultural background.
2. Watch out for phrases with two meanings
Although English is the de facto international language of the Internet, differences abound between, say, English and American English. It's easy enough to allow for differences in the way that we spell "colour", "apologise" and "organisation", but other - more subtle - differences can easily lead to misunderstandings.
For example, does "bi-weekly" mean twice a week or once every two weeks? It's different for Australians and Americans. Similarly, when Australians "table an issue", they are raising it for discussion, but for Americans, "tabling an issue" means putting it aside.
3. Include area codes in phone numbers
Any time you quote a telephone, fax or mobile (cell) phone number on the Internet, ask yourself whether your readers reside outside your local area. If you're potentially addressing distant readers, include your international code and area code in these numbers.
4. Allow for variations in postcodes
American zip codes and Australian postcodes use numbers only; U.K. postcodes contain letters and numbers; Singaporean postcodes use numbers only, but appear in a different place in the address; all have different lengths from each other.
If your Web site includes an order form or a demographic survey, allow for postcodes that fall outside your own local format.
5. Include your full postal address
If you're addressing an international audience, include your country in your postal address. Don't expect people to just figure it out. This seems obvious, but a surprising number of businesses on the Internet forget it.
6. Include international postage costs
If you're selling anything through e-mail or your Web site, cater for international orders, whether you expect them or not. Find out the cost of international postage and shipping, and publish the costs for your customers.
This is a complex area because of the variety of options, depending on the source and destination countries, methods and speed of delivery, customs and duties, and more.
Simplify this as much as possible for your customers. It's better to start with something very simple (for example, one postage price for all international orders, regardless of destination) and adapt it with experience. Or eliminate postage costs entirely, as Rachel Green does on her site by offering free postage anywhere in the world:
7. Explain your currency
If you use a currency that's common to other countries - such as dollars - make it clear which version you mean. Some Web sites quote their prices in American dollars as a kind of "universal currency", but most use local currency.
Include a link to a currency converter on your Web site to make it easy for your international visitors. Here's one to use:
8. Be aware of time zones
If you're writing a time (for example, the time when you're available in a chat room) for people in specific time zones, include their local times as well. When writing for an international audience, include the time in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
Include a link to a time zone converter on your Web site - for example:
9. Use icons carefully
Choose icons on your Web site carefully. For example, not everybody understands what a "STOP" sign means; and a "thumbs up" sign can offend people from some cultures.
In fact, it's so easy to misunderstand icons - even within a culture - that you should always supplement them with clear descriptions.
10. Tolerate mistakes
The more you use the Internet, the more you'll communicate with people who don't speak or write English as well as you do. Be tolerant of poor spelling, bad grammar and typing mistakes when you receive e-mail or take part in Internet discussion groups.
Of course, this is just common courtesy, but again it's surprising to see how many people attack others when they think they can hide behind the safety of their keyboard.
About The Author
Gihan Perera is the author of "Make More Money From Your Web Site". Visit firststep.com.au and get your free e-book "The Seven Fatal Mistakes That Almost Every Business Owner Makes on Their Web Site" - PLUS free resale rights.
You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.
Top Ten Traits of Strategic Thinkers
Want to become more strategic? Add these traits to your collection of skills and watch your success soar!1. Maintain a self-responsible attitude.
Laying It Out On Paper
You might be thinking to yourself, "Why should I waste my time writing a business plan? I know what (web designers, freelance writers, professional organizers) do!" Knowing intellectually what your industry is all about and pinpointing exactly where you want your business to go are two entirely different propositions.Something happens when you empty vague ideas out of your head and SOLIDIFY them on paper.
The Top 10 Priorities That Guard Your Five-Star Reputation
Making money doesn't make your reputation..
Innovators Role at Hard Times
One Research Scientist at the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Imaging Systems laboratory said Carly Fiorina was a marketing person put in change of engineers who cared nothing about the art and beauty of technology. She just wanted saleable stock to bring to market.
Documenting the Exit Strategy in Your Business Plan
All investors greatly desire and are motivated by a clear picture of a company's exit strategy, or the timing and method through which they can "cash in" on their investment. This picture best comes into focus when the key valuation and liquidity drivers of the company are clearly delineated.
Financing Business Expansion for Your Small Company
How you finance the expansion of your business is important. Borrowing and understanding the consequences of borrowing for your financing is extremely important.
A Backup To The Internet Is Vital & Now Cost Effective
It doesn't take a Terrorist Act, Tsunami or Earthquake to put a business heavily dependent on the internet in the dark and effectively out of business??for hours or even days into weeks.Actually, a misguided backhoe, a lightning bolt, a car accident involving a phone pole or cable box, a flooding rain or an electrical "brown out" can do it in a flash.
Invalid Excuses for Poor Business Results - Rising costs
Note to Northwest Airlines - It's not about fuel costsFor the first quarter of 2005, Northwest Airlines posted a loss of $458 million. The main reason cited was high fuel costs.
Consolidation in the Software Industry is Hardly New: Obsess About It or Risk Losing it All
Some analysts credit [Larry] Ellison with anticipating the consolidation in the enterprise software industry and leading the charge. Ellison 'called a major shift in an entire market, which was impressive.
Strategy Without Tactics is Futile
From time to time there seems to be a flurry of studies and surveys on effective communication in the workplace. As a communication specialist, I'm always eager to read these studies, but am often disappointed with what I see.
The Power of Planning
I am surprised how few sales professionals, independent consultants, and small business owners take the time to plan the strategy for their business. Most people spend more time writing out a grocery list or planning a vacation than they do planning the direction or outcome of their business.
How to Grow Your Business by Clearing the Way to Growth
Is your business growing as fast and effectively as it could, or is it stuck at the same level it has been at for years? Research (Larry Greiner, 1972) has discovered 5 specific stages of business growth. Most business never grow beyond the second level.
Succession Planning: Problems Getting Started
A survey released by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in the spring of 2005 illustrates a widespread problem on the lack of succession planning [deciding who will take over running the firm when the current managers die or retire]. The survey found that 60% of responding certified public accountant (CPA) firms have owners who are in the 55-to-62-year-old age bracket, and more than half (56%) have at least one partner who will retire in the next five years.
Legal Strategies in Business Plans
Writing a Business Plan these days is tough, venture capitalists are busy and there are so many ideas to choose from. Bankers want a tight, sweet and to the point business plan.
Abstract Thought; Business Strategies and Biological Systems
To stop a computer virus you must understand how it works, grows and what it's innate purpose is? What is its program, evolution and future vectors. The fastest way to expand a business or exploit a competitor on a sports team is to use the organizational patterns of nature like swarms, ants, and viruses.
Leverage - A Small Step For You /A Big Change For Your Career
Cassy was an employee of a nonprofit who had been at her job 5 years. She came to me because she felt that the organization she was working for didn't value her and was upset because others had been promoted but she had not.
Designing an Efficient Distribution System
Let us look at a few of the big distribution networks in the US that we use today. The US Post Office for instance is a huge complex chain of symbiotic relations ships with vendors to deliver by truck, work with FED EX for air, previously that airmail idea started commercial aviation.
Vision Getting Dim?
A recent conversation started with a typical question, "How's business?" The reply was equally typical and prefaced by a sigh, "You know (another sigh), same old / same old."Clearly the person responding has "VCD" or "Vision Challenge Disorder.
Breaking the Growth Barriers in the Information Technology and Software Sector
There's nothing automatic about corporate growth, particularly in the information technology industry; build it and they will come is a myth. In the real world there is either a structured, process-driven growth cycle, or stagnation-and stagnation is automatic.
Microsoft Great Plains Implementation: Healthcare/Hospital example - overview for consultant
Microsoft Great Plains fits multiple services market niche and healthcare is not exemption. In the case of Healthcare/Hospital there is usually healthcare patient history tracking system in place and backoffice or accounting application should be integrated on the ongoing basis with the above mentioned system plus often Hospital or association is non-profit organization and non-for-profit accounting specifics should be taken into consideration.
|home | site map|