Five Ways to Optimize UX for Your International Audience
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Five Ways to Optimize UX for Your International Audience

There are all sorts of reasons to care about getting digital user experience right.

It’s good for your customers. They have a good time interacting with your business online, getting what they need, leaving delighted, and hopefully coming back.

That means it’s better for you. Good UX makes it easier for your customers to click, download, sign up, make a purchase, or whatever else you want them to do.

And it’s a huge part of conveying your brand as a whole. If you claim to be the smartest, quickest or most reliable company out there, the experience your customers have with you had better reflect it.

That’s why leading businesses put a huge amount of effort into the UX (user experience) of their websites. But here’s the thing: lots of companies only put the hard UX work into their home-language websites. Global audiences are then lumped in as ‘the rest of the world’ and they expect the same user experience rules to apply.

Guess what? They don’t. That’s why this approach is such a huge mistake. If you don’t localize your UX and make sure it’s optimized for each market, you’re almost certainly leaving revenue on the table—and giving your international customers a bad experience.

Here are five principles that will help you get your international UX right.

1. Define your goals—and test everything

Before starting your UX journey, define the goals of your website and the metrics that will determine success.

If you want more people to click your call-to-action (CTA), then the changes you make—whether color, moving its position, simplifying the webpage so it’s more obvious—could result in more clicks. If they don’t, time to try something else.

Then, test away. Some UX testing techniques are simple, quick, and relatively cheap. Things like heatmapping, predictive eye-tracking, and Google Analytics can show you how thousands of people are interacting with your site—what they’re clicking, what they could be looking at, and where they’re falling out of the user journey.

If there’s one word that’s key to global UX, it’s ‘test’. There are lots of moving parts when you’re dealing with different cultural preferences, so thorough testing is the only way to stay on top of them and figure out what works.

2. Grab the easy wins

Once you have gathered some testing data on your site’s usability across different regions, it’s time to analyse and adjust. For example, if the CTA on the right-hand side of your page is working just fine for your US audience, but is going totally unnoticed by your French and German customers, that’s an easy area to fix.

Or, if your international customers are getting through to a payment page but then dropping out in much greater numbers than on your home-language page, that may point to a problem with the payment methods you’re offering.

Done right, your testing data will help you pick the low-hanging fruit. Identify big, obvious problems and try different things to change them.

3. Deep dive into the ‘why’

Techniques like heatmapping can tell you what lots of people are doing (or not doing). But they can’t tell you why. To get that kind of insight, you need more focused—and more cost-intensive—techniques such as in-market user testing, where you record and watch people using your site. You might even interview them to find out what they thought.

You can discover the problems different users have with your site and unearth the factors that contribute to whether they enjoy their experience or not.

Of course, this takes time. But actually, user testing with five to eight people can identify more than 80% of usability issues on your website.

Maybe all your images feature people standing on their own. That may work in the UK and US because people feel an individual, personal connection to the person in the image. But in other cultures (for example in India and Saudi Arabia), collective identity is much stronger, so images of groups of people could be more effective.

This is the kind of UX insight you can only get with deep-dive testing.

4. See the big picture

UX is an ongoing process. Just because you change the CTA color on one site and get an uplift in clicks doesn’t mean you’ve hit the very best solution. There might be another change that gets even more clicks.

In an ideal world, you’d be experimenting with the UX on all your sites, in all your markets, all the time. But for most businesses, this just isn’t possible. You’ve got to prioritize.

So all that data you get from testing means you can see the big picture and pinpoint what areas need attention the most.

Because you’ve identified specific website goals at the start of the process, it makes like-for-like comparisons easier. If your German customers have a much lower download rate compared to all your other users, that shows there’s probably a UX issue that needs to be sorted out immediately.

5. Work with experts

Getting international UX right can be tough. There’s a lot to think about, a lot that can very easily go wrong, and a lot that you just can’t assume about the way your different customers act online.

For instance, did you know that blue is a really important color in France? It’s the national color and French people generally have a positive reaction to it. Testing your ‘Buy now’ button color in blue on your French site could lead to more clicks.

But in Germany, people have a more problematic relationship with the national colors—lots of yellow, red, and black on your site is likely to put them off.

That’s the kind of thing that may be news to marketers. But it’s exactly the kind of thing experts in UX localization can tell you straight away. They can guide you to the areas that are most likely to make the biggest impact to your users—and refine your testing so you’re starting out with a better chance of success.

At RWS Moravia, that’s what we do. So if you’d like to design successful UX for all your global territories, we’d love to help. Get in touch!