Create an International WordPress Website with These Tips

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When it comes to website traffic, the more the merrier. Creating an international website to welcome visitors from around the world can result in more brand exposure and, if you have an eCommerce site, a broader customer base.

According to Internet Live Stats, there were nearly 3.5 billion global internet users in 2016. But less than 9 percent of these users were located in the United States.

You can capture a bit of that remaining 91 percent by implementing a few tips to make your WordPress-powered website easier to use, no matter where your site visitors come from. Making your site global-friendly doesn’t need to be a time-consuming or expensive effort. Begin with a few of the suggestions in this post, and you’ll be on your way.

Write for a diverse audience

The first and most important thing that you can do to make your website welcoming to global visitors is to use concise English. Not all of your site visitors will speak English, so follow a few guidelines for better results:

Avoid using local jargon

Most industries and businesses use their own specialized vocabulary that can be confusing or alienating to the general public. Even common sports terminology such as, “hitting a home run” or a “slam dunk” can be confusing to non-native English speakers.

Take a step back and audit your existing content. Are you describing your products and services in ways that are easy for potential customers to understand, even if they don’t have experience with your industry?

Sometimes you can’t help using industry-specific terms, but do your best to define anything that might be obscure. Also, be sure to communicate in a way that the largest audience possible could comprehend.

Improve readability

The best way to communicate the purpose of your website is to make your content easier to read.

Begin this process using Jetpack’s built-in proofreader. After drafting a page or post, use the proofreading option to scan your content for misspellings, typos, and other common errors.

Jetpack's proofreading option

After proofreading, you can paste your content into the free Hemingway App to get an idea of the education level that an average person would need to understand it. Some of your visitors may not speak English as their primary language, so be sure to use clear, direct wording to accommodate them.

The Hemingway app, which helps you write clearly

To complement the Jetpack proofreader and Hemingway App, here are more free writing tools you can use to refine your content.

Design your site for international visitors

A bit of cultural sensitivity can go a long way in helping your website stand out amongst those of your competitors. Here are a few elements to consider:

Color and images

Every color evokes different emotions and means something different to each culture. Shutterstock reports that in Western cultures, green represents wealth, nature, and luck. In contrast, green is traditionally forbidden in Indonesia. It’s important to understand and respect the beliefs and values of each audience visiting your site, so try not to overuse one particularly isolating color.

The same is true for images and symbols. For example, a “thumbs up” emoji can mean one thing in the United States and something completely different (and offensive) in other parts of the world. Therefore, it’s vital to factor in cultural considerations when designing your user interface.

While you can’t account for every cultural variation, it’s worth learning about your target markets as well as where your site visitors are located. To determine where your site visitors are coming from, look no further than the stats right on your WordPress dashboard.

Visitor location statistics for this post's writer

Optimize your site for mobile devices

Smartphones and high-speed internet access are common in the United States; but don’t assume that all of your visitors view your site on high-resolution devices with speedy connections.

With Jetpack installed, you’ll have access to a large selection of free and premium mobile-friendly themes. With this kind of theme in place, your site design will automatically scale itself to look great across various screen sizes. Whether your visitors use desktop computers or mobile phones, they’ll see your website in the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

You’ll also want to keep your page load times short, so that visitors don’t become impatient if they’re forced to wait too long. Every Jetpack plan includes an Image CDN (content delivery network) and Lazy Loading Images, two features designed to optimize your site speed.

Features you can add quickly

Crafting international content and tweaking your website design takes time and effort. Until you address those issues, there are some built-in features you can add to your site for a quick fix.

Site search

Add a Search widget to your header, sidebar, or footer area to help visitors locate the information they’re looking for.

As a bonus, the Search widget is styled to match whichever WordPress theme you’re using.

Translation widget

Manually translating your website into several languages is time-consuming and expensive. It’s also a risky move if you don’t speak the language you’re translating, as you won’t be able to tell if there are spelling or grammar mistakes.

Unless you’re sure that a large percentage of your users come from a specific region, and you’re confident that you can accurately interpret a foreign language, translating for individual languages is not your best option.

As an alternative, use the Google Translate widget to enable visitors to view your website in any language supported by Google Translate.

The Google Translate widget for WordPress

Similar to site search, you can add the translation feature to any location supported by your theme (header, sidebar, or footer).

Your global audience is waiting

From content and design, to functionality, you have a lot to consider when it comes to making your website friendly for visitors around the world.

Remember, even taking small steps will make your site that much more inclusive, so don’t feel pressured to change everything at once.

What plans do you have to make your WordPress website more welcoming to international visitors? Share your thoughts with us below.

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Carrie Dils profile
Carrie Dils

Founder of The Fearless Freelancer and host of the OfficeHours.FM podcast. WordPress consultant, instructor, and developer.

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  1. Mounsey Web Consultancy says:

    Great article, thanks for sharing this with us. Advice here I’ll certainly be sharing with some of my own clients – particularly those with international audiences!

    Liked by 2 people

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