Web Programming Unleashed
by Mark Bishop
- Marketing Today
- Marketing Changes
- International Concerns
- Preparing a Multilingual Document
- Key Components: Translation and Promotion
- Beyond Web Translating: Promoting Your Site
The news today is filled with mind-boggling statistics about the
Internet. Visit any Usenet newsgroup and you'll read that 30 million
people or more use the Internet regularly, and 2.5 million people
have made a purchase over the Internet! In its October 1, 1996,
edition, PC Week Online says that advertising revenues
alone, estimated at $12 million for 1995, could jump up to $300
million for 1996 and reach as high as $3.8 billion by the year
2000. Almost everyone who surfs the Net already knows that the
Internet is blowing up exponentially in size. Although the actual
number of people using the Internet might be unknown, the fact
remains that business-related Web sites are dominating the growth
of the Internet and that the Internet is doubling in size each
year. Suddenly this big world we live in becomes small and connected.
So where does that leave you?
If you already have a Web site or your own Web pages, being on the Internet can be busy work-especially if you are trying to make a business out of your cyberspace presence. Doing business on the Internet means confronting all types of Internet issues, ranging from making cool Web pages and maintaining them, to learning the myriad of ongoing tricks and tags, to making your pages hot. And, if you're selling or promoting a corporate image through your Web pages, the job is even harder because you have to stay on top of much more. Now imagine adding an international presence, having Web pages and information in a language other than English.
Taking into consideration the growth of the Internet, how could any sensible business person not have an international Web site? For example, how can anyone with something to sell ignore the Chinese market, with 800 million people and computer sales that are doubling every year?
Don't forget the 70 million people who speak Cantonese. With the takeover of Hong Kong by mainland China imminent, almost half a million Chinese alone have already immigrated to Canada. The market is there! There are also 78 million in this world who speak French, as well as 98 million people who speak German (in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria). In addition, 300 million people in Spain, Central and South America, and the Philippines speak Spanish. Internet experts tell us that by the year 2010 everyone between the ages of 25 and 55 will have an Internet connection.
True, you might already know how to market and promote your Web pages via the various search engines. You also know that if you don't register your URLs, no one will know your pages exist. But, what if you wanted to promote or sell products and services to customers beyond the United States and Canada? What if you want to reach billions of people in China, Europe, or Mexico? What if you want to sell a product or service to a specific group of people-how would you market your site? These are tough questions, indeed.
Since the explosion of the Internet, many businesses are coming to grips with the fact that many of the traditional marketing approaches used outside the Internet don't necessarily always work on the Internet or one's Web site. Today, the audiences and marketing are different. People are online in more than 100 countries, and they speak many different languages. What was once a tradition-driven market is now an information-driven market.
Not long ago, businesses used demographics and psychological profiles to help identify their customers. Now on the Internet, almost anything goes! In fact, innovation is sometimes the factor that distinguishes a heavily trafficked site from one that is dead. However, to compete in an international market, you need to know more than how to write HTML pages.
A competent Web site needs at least someone who understands the basics of Internet technology, communication, advertising, and marketing. And for a truly global Internet presence, you need to think about other issues, too.
What do you need to develop an international Web site that will be visited by people who speak a variety of languages? Assuming that your Web site is already functional, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your product, service, or information content exportable
to your target market on the Internet?
Although one of the marketing bonuses of the Internet is that you don't have to buy a local business license for each country, state, or city that you're doing business in (unlike regular merchants who maintain a physical presence), you still need to figure out if you can deliver to that marketplace. The logistics range from translating your content into another language and placing it into your HTML page to shipping your product out of the country. The job is more complex than building a Web page or calling UPS for a pickup.
- Is your foreign market even on the Internet?
You could waste a lot of time and energy creating an international Web site if no one is online to view it. For example, if I'm trying to sell T-shirts to Tibetan monks and my Web site is in Los Angeles, I could have some problems, such as finding Tibetan monks on the Internet and writing Cool Monk Shirts in their language on my Web page. Do your homework before you start. Professional Internet marketing groups can make a difference if you're unsure.
- Can you speak the language of your intended market?
Even if you can create your Web page in a foreign language, you still have to consider how you will respond to customer inquiries. Obviously, having someone on staff who can translate and respond effectively in the language of the people you are marketing to is important. Larger companies need to employ full-time translators and cross-train them in HTML and other Internet skills.
- What about the nuts and bolts?
So, you know how to use a graphic editor such as Paint Shop Pro and can slap together an HTML page, but what if you need to make an image with Japanese or Spanish text characters in it? Fortunately, the tools to make such a graphic are pretty much the same as you use to make any type of graphic for the Internet. After you have your original source of text in the appropriate language, you cut and paste and manipulate. For example, if you were using the Spanish keyboard option in Windows, you could type out the text and manipulate it with bold or change the font, and then cut and paste that text into a graphic program for other special effects.
- Is what you see what you get?
Will visitors to your Web site need special software to see your non-English text? Do any converter programs work with major Web browsers such as Navigator and Explorer? Do the major browsers display or accept input from languages other than English? These mechanics and behind-the-scenes work become paramount when you are developing a multilingual Internet site. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 will eventually support 23 languages. Netscape's Navigator 2.0 International version already supports French, German, and Japanese versions. At this time neither supports Chinese dialects. When you are downloading either of these two browsers, look for the "International" versions. Other companies, such as Twinbridge (www.twinbridge.com), offer a free program called AsianViewer. This program enables users to display Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language Web pages, e-mail, newsgroups, and other Internet applications.
- Have you considered how you will ship the product? What about
tariffs? Will you accept returns?
If you are largely promoting information and not products for sale, this point is moot. However, if you want to sell to a given foreign market, you must consider these essential issues. Selling over the Internet begins to sound like an import/export business and might very well become such a thing. Be ready for this eventuality!
An international Web site is largely about displaying your HTML page in more than one language. An international Web site is, at least, bilingual and allows for some type of non-English response or input. The nature of the global audience that you are targeting will also dictate how you should think about and create your page. For example, if you are aiming for an Hispanic market, you surely want to be aware of Hispanic customs, culture, and business practices.
The Internet is surely a worldwide network, and English (the prevailing language on the Internet) is not the native language of many people who access the Internet! English is actually a second language for many Internet users. And, according to the 1996 edition of Almanac and World Facts, of the almost 6 billion people in the world, only about 326 million learn English as their native language. Consequently, millions of people cannot read the millions of English-only Web pages.
True, not everyone in this world has access to a computer, let alone the Internet. However, many industrialized nations do have access and will continue to grow in their number of connections. Along those lines, universities will always connect students and others to the Internet.
If you look at the foundation of successful Web sites, you'll notice that they all have what I call GIGSGD. Don't even try to pronounce it! GIGSGD stands for Good Information, Good Shift, and Good Delivery, and in dealing with a truly global Web community, these points take on an important meaning. Following these principles will put you in the same league as other successful Web site owners.
Having a successful Web presence is like baking a cake, and your content is the most important ingredient. If you don't have quality information, you cannot expect return visitors. A charismatic site, on the other hand, builds enthusiasm and brings people back for more. A good site covers everything from what a user clicks to navigate through your site to your content, and even your advertisements-if you have any. And it can be as simple as changing the poem you have on your home page to keeping the company Web site up-to-date with the latest products and services you offer. And for an international site with multiple languages, this means translating any changes in your English Web pages to the foreign language pages you're displaying. You need to keep your Web site fresh and exciting!
If you work in a large company, you know that paper is information: tons and tons of pages and information. The world is made up of information from the entertainment community, businesses, government, and individuals. What does one do with all the data? You'll have to shift the information from a non-digital paper format to a digital one as displayed through a given Web page. But, how do you do that?
Your first job is to know about the programs and technology that can take you from a world of hard copy to a world of digital information, such as converting printed items to HTML; learning how to convert standard audio sources such as tapes to digital audio formats using programs such as RealAudio and TrueSpeech; or learning how to convert large-scale word-processing documents into HTML pages, using HTML Transit from InfoAccess. To create multilingual Web pages for your international site, you will need more specialized programs and utilities, such as word-processing software for other languages, translation programs that convert one language into another, and Web browsers that support different languages and their respective fonts. These products are just a few of the tools you can use to get your data ready for the Internet.
Good delivery is having the required working parts of your Web site to present your information in a pleasant and efficient manner to your viewing audience. For an international site, good delivery could mean informing your users ahead of time that they need, for example, an international Web browser or special viewing software.
If you have good digital information, people from all parts of the world, speaking all types of languages, will come to it. Your content can be compelling information, games, or connections to powerful relational databases, using products such as WebDBC, R:WEB, or CGI Perform. You will have to work hard to make your online information suitable for an international market.
To help put into perspective which applications work nicely in creating an international Web site (defined as using a language other then English), I visited Sprint's Asian division Web site, www.aan.net, and learned how its Webmasters create a Chinese Web page. This scenario helps you to see the steps and tools used to make a multilingual page.
First, according to Wendy Hsu, Webmaster, she first develops her graphic, using professional graphic software such as Paint Shop Pro 4.0 and Photoshop. Second, if text is involved in either the HTML document or the graphic, she uses a Chinese word processing software called Chinese Pro that enables her to use almost any text editor and type directly as Chinese characters. She prefers not to use Microsoft Word to cut and paste because each Chinese word actually takes two spaces, and Word distorts the spacing. She is concerned that those viewing her Chinese Web page have a browser that supports these Chinese characters she has created. Although any browser can display a graphic, the text portion of the HTML document must be displayed correctly via a Web browser that supports multiple languages.
The big names in the universe of Web browsers-Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 and Netscape's Navigator 2.0 International version-support multiple languages. Microsoft promises that its browser will soon be available in 23 languages, enabling users to select the character set of the language they want and thereby enabling the browser to display the page correctly. Netscape's Navigator International version enables customers to use e-mail and join threaded discussion groups.
A growing market of software companies is scuttling to write helper programs for non-native English speakers so that they too can surf the Net and see pages in multiple languages. Some of these new programs not only support foreign languages on the Web but also work with many other software programs. Essentially, a mouse click enables a user to switch between English and other languages. Remember that Asian languages generally require helper programs; on the other hand, many of the European languages are built into the popular Web browsers. Many of the following programs support Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK), and offer fonts for these languages too. Here's a list of some of the more popular helper programs:
- UNIONWAY: http://www.unionway.com/
A popular suite of programs supporting Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages under Windows, and also a 32-bit version for NT 3.51 and 4.0. This program provides multilanguage support for Windows-based applications (word processing, desktop publishing, presentation graphics, spreadsheets, and more), by displaying the selected language so that all text you enter from any Windows-based application is displayed in that given language. Also includes an extensive font list for each language.
- TWINBRIDGE: http://www.twinbridge.com/
Another very popular suite of applications designed for Asian languages. Offering much of the same as Unionway, Twinbridge provides extensive technical support to its clients. After you click the Twinbridge icon, a new toolbar appears on your Windows desktop, enabling various features. In addition, Twinbridge offers a free utility program called AsianViewer. This very handy utility has a click-down map of Asia that requires users only to click in what Asian country they want to view their Web pages. The program supports the popular Chinese internal codes of BIG5, GB, HZ, and ISO2022-CN, Korean, and Japanese dialects. This intuitive map makes it easy for Web surfers to select in what language or dialect of that language to view multilingual pages.
- CHINESE PRO: http://www.chinapro.com/
China Pro is a very flexible and popular Asian utility used by many who do extensive word processing in an Asian language such as Chinese. Its Web site is only in Chinese, so if you want to contact it, have a translator close by.
- ALIS: http://www.alis.com/ European language support
Known for its popular Tango multilingual browser that not only enables you to display any of over 90 languages, it will automatically retrieve your Web pages in the same languages, too. The big plus here is that most multilingual browsers will display the page in a foreign language, but you can't input a URL in the same language. Tango enables you to input text into its browser. Visit its site to get all the details.
- NJWIN: http://www.njstar.com.au/ Shareware version
Hongbo Data Systems, makers of the NJSTAR and NJWIN suite of applications, produces a wide range of Chinese and Japanese language programs that work with MS-DOS or MS Windows. Its site also has some good links to other online Chinese resources.
- PROVANTAGE: http://www.provantage.com/
Provantage is unique in that it comes on a CD-ROM and enables anyone using Netscape 2.0 to translate German, Spanish, and French Web sites into English just by clicking a button. You can buy the product from the Provantage Web site for only $43.00. Not bad!
- ACCENT: http://www.accentsoft.com/
The people at Accent Software claim that only 9 percent of the world's population speaks English, and they see the Internet as the network to reach the other 91 percent of the world's global village. Their Internet with an Accent software program is rich in features such as Multilingual Mosaic browser; Multilingual Publisher, which is an HTML editor that enables you to make quick and easy foreign language Web pages; Multilingual MailPad, which lets you correspond in the language that both you and the recipient prefer; and much more. Out in software retail stores now is Navigate with an Accent, which is a plug-in for Netscape's Navigator. This application displays up to 35 different languages and their respective fonts correctly. It also enables multiple character sets on the screen at the same time and provides multilingual help screens and documentation.
To get an idea of how these programs work, you might want to try out the shareware version of NJWIN. The company has a Web site with clear instructions for installing the program (and in English, too), and this program was highly rated by students on the various Chinese IRC talk channels. Figure 34.1 shows a Netscape browser using the NJWIN helper program. Notice the pull-down box that allows for the various Asian languages and their dialects.
For additional information on multilingual Web browsers, visit any English search engine and type Multilingual Browsers.
Although all Web browsers can display a GIF or JPG graphic having foreign characters in the graphic, to view the foreign text within the HTML page your browser must support that language. You can start to prepare a multilingual document by using the international language support that is probably built into your computer. Windows users can change or add keyboard properties for languages and dialects, such as Central European (Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, and so on), Cyrillic, Baltic, Greek, Spanish, and others. The Windows keyboard selection supports almost all European languages. However, Asian languages require special software, as described earlier, because the type of characters, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, are double-byte characters. This means that whereas a Spanish character occupies one space, a Chinese character will take up two spaces. This might not seem important until you begin to cut and paste from one application to another and your sentences look distorted.
To add a little confusion with an explanation, HTML publications written in Chinese don't have a unique Chinese code that all Chinese can read or understand. In fact, the Chinese language has a few popular dialects, which is one reason why even the large browsers such as Navigator and Explorer still have not supported it yet, but the two styles of Chinese code that dominate on the Internet are the BIG5 format (traditionally used in Taiwan and Hong Kong) and the GB format (used in mainland China, Singapore, and other places).
Obviously, one can almost see a fatal limitation in having a software program with so many character sets and also having to support them. This enormous diversity is one reason why there is not a universal Web browser that supports all foreign languages. However, the major Web browsers such as Netscape and Microsoft are slowly making support for all languages into reality.
However, don't blame the Asian languages for this technical glitch. After all, HTML and the Web were developed at CERN in Europe, which explains why they have provisions for European languages that use standard escape sequences and existing 8-bit character sets.
Webmasters who maintain international Web sites tend to use the same tools that any Web person would use to create a hot HTML page, for example, Adobe's Photoshop, CorelDRAW!, and Paint Shop Pro. The difference is in how you turn your multilingual characters into a real Web document for everyone to be able to view.
Cut and Paste! You thought there was an easier way? Actually, cut and paste is a popular and relatively simple method for taking a word or sentence from your multilingual word processor and capturing the text from its original source. An example might be inserting a Chinese Word file into your Adobe Photoshop file, resizing it, and adding your special effects. This method works fine when you are making a GIF file and inserting it into your Web page. In fact, because most browsers can support the GIF and JPG file formats, most of your users won't need any special software to read your non-English text.
Making the multilingual text can be as easy as using a multilingual editor and typing directly into the text or HTML editor. This area is not so difficult as making a multilingual graphic file, because several programs enable your keyboard input to display the foreign letters you've selected. For example, to produce a Microsoft Word document in Chinese, you need the Chinese version of Word for Windows 95, which sells for about $240.
One company that has done an amazing job of converting Chinese text files into regular GIF files is SINANET. In fact, it can convert an entire page of Chinese characters from a major Taiwanese newspaper into an 8-bit GIF file smaller than 15KB. This size means that any Web browser at even a modest connection speed could view multiple pages easily. The idea of having your multilingual text saved as a graphic itself is not a bad idea. It solves for now the difficulty in worrying who can see your page or who can't. And although the folks at SINANET won't say exactly what their process is, one can achieve the same effect scanning a document and saving it as a GIF or JPG file. The trick is to minimize the colors used (black and white), making the scanned page small in size. Visit the SINANET site and see how a nicely laid out multilingual Web page looks. When you're there, click the News Center.
Probably the same graphics programs you use for your Web pages
were the ones used at this site. Programs such as Paint Shop Pro
with Kai Power Tools, Photoshop, and CorelDRAW! were all used
to make this multilingual Chinese site (English version, too).
Visit the site at http://www.aan.net/.
Visit http://www.chasecom.com/price-ms.htm/ for more information on obtaining Chinese-oriented computer products. This site is extremely popular in the Chinese community
In addition, Windows 3.x and Windows 95 already offer character sets in many other languages that you can access with a click. Check Keyboard properties in the Control Panel for more information.
However, be careful not to confuse the making of a foreign language document with building an HTML page. You can use the <PRE> </PRE> tag to insert your text, but the browser still needs to be in the language you're writing in to view your page correctly. Keep in mind that word wrapping often doesn't recognize foreign characters, so use the PRE command often.
Delivering your international Web pages to an international audience takes the following:
- Writing your Web pages in, or having your original page translated to, the language of your choice.
- Promoting your translated Web page(s) to the world. This type of marketing means thinking globally, because much of the world speaks a language other than English.
If your business is too strapped for funds (or time) to take on an international Web venture of designing, making, and delivering multilingual Web pages, or if you want to ease into this project gradually, a Web translation service might be in order. These companies specialize in transforming your English-version Web page(s) into any language(s) you choose.
Fees for Web translation services start around $75 per hour. (You can figure on about an hour per page.) If you use search words such as multilingual and Web or International Web Sites, a search engine will return a decent listing of businesses that can assist you with an international Web look. Here are a few Web translation services. (Most of these companies offer free quotations.)
This company translates Web pages into Chinese, English, and Spanish. It also translates lengthier documents, and charges per word.
This is another good company that can handle almost any European or Asian language; translations start at about $100 per page.
This site designs Japanese-language Web pages. Fees start at about $200 per page, in addition to a charge for each word on the page.
This international Web-promotion business understands the European market very well and has an outstanding awareness on how to successfully market your site.
For an excellent example of how to handle multiple languages, multilingual sites, launching from a single site, and branching off to other foreign sites, check out
Web translation services are also doing a good business in translating foreign-language HTML into English, which tells me that Europeans, and soon Asians, are also tuned into the possibilities of doing international business on the Internet. I hope this chapter is a wake-up call to readers who want to reach the millions around the world in their own languages.
Apple and IBM sites offer a language-selection drop-down box that takes you to their page in the language of your choice. A good international landing page should have languages in some type of graphic that all browsers can read, followed by a selection of other languages that the user can shoot to quickly. Figure 34.2 shows how a simple point-and-click feature can help navigate to a site with international pages.
The other key component in a successful international site is promotion. The minimum effort required is that you register your multilingual Web pages with the major search engines on the Internet; you should also register with various foreign search engines and indexes.
The following are some suggestions that will assist you in promoting your site worldwide:
- Consider hiring a professional marketing company that specializes in international exposure of Web pages. Many of the Web translation businesses can help you; other marketing professionals, such as a public relations firm, can also help.
- Learn about foreign search engines and indexes. Of course, you won't be able to do much unless you speak that language. For example, a new Japanese version of the Open Text Index can access tens of thousands of Japanese Web pages. You'll need a Japanese Web browser (such as Netscape Navigator or Explorer) to see these particular pages, but you can visit the site in English and then select a search language. This powerful and leading-edge search tool is the type of thing you want to be placed in, as it supports languages other than English.
The Open Text search engine will also be the basis of other non-English search engines. In your travels to other multilingual sites, you'll find other smaller search engines and Yellow Pages. Expect to see many non-English search engines and indexes soon. Figure 34.3 shows the landing page for Open Text
- Establish mutual links with a foreign business. This partnership is a great way to bring foreign traffic to your pages and at the same time establish a working relationship with another country. It puts your business on a personal level. Do a keyword search of EuroBusiness Centre in http://www.altavista.digital.com/, and you'll be astonished at all the different sites that come up in different languages. You will find a lot of important Internet information that you can use to promote your own international Web pages.
- Send out e-mail, newsletters, and autoresponders. Try to capture your foreign visitors by having a form that asks for their personal information, such as name, phone, e-mail address, and mailing address. Ask if they'd like to receive a newsletter or other information in their own language. Autoresponders enable you to automatically send a prepared document to the visitor's e-mail address. Ask your ISP for more information on autoresponders.
- Learn about the business practices of the foreign market you are tapping into with your Web information. For example, Europeans would appreciate a voice call to establish a business relationship rather than just an e-mail message sent to them. The same holds true for Spanish speakers worldwide. Search the Internet for Business Practices in foreign countries to get an idea what to expect from various countries.
- Keep your international Web page simple. Graphics are time-consuming and expensive to download.
- Understand the culture and customs of the host country. Believe it or not, some colors are considered offensive in certain countries, and some colors are considered lucky. So do your homework!
- Add sound clips to your pages to enhance the theme of your international pages.
- Make your pages clickable, and easy to navigate. If your page starts out in English, for example, make it clickable so a foreign visitor can spot his or her language and reach the corresponding pages quickly and without confusion. Test run your international pages with people who speak the language your pages are written in.
All the signs point to a lot of people cascading onto the Internet. People everywhere, speaking many different languages, want to visit you on the Internet. Think of these international considerations as a business opportunity that you can't afford to miss. Remember that not all of your business will come from obvious sources; some will show up from places you don't expect. Be prepared to meet these new opportunities and challenges and become a truly international Web person.