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It's in the Details: Seven Secrets of a Successful International Website : Comments

By Huiping Iler

January 15, 2007


Thomas Baekdal

January 16, 2007 1:16 AM

Good article,

But, your explanation about shopping habit between Europe and North America is not correct. I live in Europe, and I have never encountered those shopping behaviors you descripe (short of a few small localized companies).

It is true that you cannot pay by credit card in some small places physically – but not when it comes to websites. As a general rule you pay by the use of your credit card. There is however some difference in what kinds of credit cards they accept. Visa and Mastercard seems universal, other types of credits cards is not.

In most of nothern Europe, the credit card is used as a replacement for any other types of payment. For instance, paying by the use of the check would be considered strange (something we see in many US sites). Most people in Denmark rarely pay using cash.

Your comment about the shopping cart is also wrong. It might sometimes be called a “shopping basket” (in the UK) or a local phrase – “Wunschzettel” in Germany, “Vos Z’envies Cardeaux” in France, “Indk


January 16, 2007 3:48 AM

What you tell readers is wrong. We dun have so much credit cars in Germany because we pay by EFT or debit card. And everyone does shopping with a shopping card.

Michael Rawling

January 16, 2007 3:50 AM

An exceedingly interesting article, Huiping, which touches on another point:

These areas are issues an interface/graphic designer with correct training and some experience will naturally take into account as a function of the design process. In fact the kind of issues here are openly parts of various design course’s syllabuses and common knowledge amongst design professionals.

I think the fact that this seems possibly a fresh, interesting or different area is quite possibly symptomatic of our industry where there have always been many badly self-taught or self-named, DIY interface/web designers in positions of responsibility who, unfortunately, don’t have understanding of these issues and as a result overlook or even actively downplay them in my experience.

Kim Siever

January 16, 2007 5:56 AM

“it stated that the resort is 47 square miles or ‘roughly half the size of Rhode island.’ Outside of North America, where many people don


January 16, 2007 6:22 AM

Even a trivial amount of research should also have indicated that the correct name for that device is a shopping trolley – a cart is usually drawn by a horse!


January 16, 2007 6:37 AM

I agree with Kim. And if I saw that on a web page I would probably be a little bit offended (What, they think everyone is from the US?). Geographical comparisons like that should be avoided if at all possible. Especially when there is a little animosity between two countries that would otherwise be lumped together. You could probably say the same for England and other parts of the UK or Australia and New Zealand etc.

The most annoying thing about shopping online, as a Canadian, is shipping charges. Many retailers don’t seem to make an effort to find the most affordable shipping option. Some sites don’t even bother to tell you where they ship to. I’m sure this is even worse for people in other parts of the world.

About payment options in Europe – my husband is from the UK and I know they commonly expect to be able to pay by debit card online. Debit cards are probably more common than credit cards there, even for online payments.


January 16, 2007 10:20 AM

Very interesting article, Huiping!

But I’d like clarification on one point, please. You state that “U.S. online retailers still haven

Huiping Iler

January 16, 2007 12:04 PM

Thank you for the comments and feedback you provided.

On shopping cart verus basket:

Compare with Look at the top of the screen, you will notice the .com site uses a cart and the uk site uses a basket.

On web site that deals with haggling:

The only thing that comes close to that is that you can offer your own price. Occasionally priceline makes a counter offer if it thinks your offer is too low.

Andy James

January 23, 2007 5:22 AM

Also, in order to have an international website, some owners turn their websites into multi-language versions using automatic translation tools. I’m not quite certain about validity of such action.


January 25, 2007 6:34 AM

Andy, those translation tools can provide visitors that speak other languages a way to read your site once they are already at your site but what’s the chance they are going to find your site if they are searching in another language. They probably won’t. In order for visitors of other languages to find your site, you have to have an indexable version of your site which means they must have a URL that the pages site on. Translation Tools don’t provide that. The best way to accomplish it, is to translate the copy, then create new pages that are tied into the navigation versus using a web page translation tool. The is the most SEO friendly way of drawing multilingual visitors and providing them with the correct language to read. You can see at the top of the site, you have the option to view “En Espanol”. This is an example of how to accomplish it.


February 2, 2007 3:46 PM

You suggest avoiding the use of flags to symbolise language and I do agree with the theory but I have yet to see suitable ideas or examples of an alternative approach. Any suggestions?

On the cart vs basket point, I live in the UK and everybody I know was familiar with the shopping trolly long before the internet came along. I think that while that comparison between Amazon UK and .com is not a great example, the general principle raised in the original post is a valid consideration.


April 20, 2007 9:48 AM

I saved this article the day it came out and finally got around to making some changes on my homepage so I figured I’d see what was here first. Thanks for the tips.

WRT Brad’s comments, I still choose to leave the translated copy out of my serverspace by utilizing the free services. Even though the service provides another URL, obviously any copy I made would also, so I might as well not bother with the storage on my end.

I am still using flags because countries have only one dominant language, and I hate seeing links to a translation when the link is in English only!

I do have my ALT and TITLE’s in their respective language at least. Which means, of course, that those links won’t be readable to screen-readers outside that language, but neither are the other ones, unless you know that language too. It gets unacceptable, a.k.a.unaccessible, pretty quick.

Kevin Gallagher

July 21, 2007 9:08 AM

Thanks im wanting to use my website to sell products in the Uk as well as the US and have found some great advice here thanks again

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