As we’re working on a number of projects right now with international audiences, I found Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox from June 6 particularly timely.
It was heartening – on lots of levels – to hear that “people are the same the world over” and that good usability is fairly universal. Not surprisingly, there are some twists to serving an international audience effectively. Check out the article to read more about mirrored-F reading patterns, multi-lingual search and localization vs. internationalization.
The quick take-away, though, is that – surprise, surprise – any culture- or language-driven customization needs to be done with an eye on the needs of the specific audience. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for all audiences – apparently Arab users often favor international sites to Arabic versions of the same site. Testing and research are the way to go before diving in to major-scale localization for any audience segment.