Companies Find Multilingual Web Sites a Challenge

The good news is U.S. organizations are realizing they need to provide

multiple languages on their Web sites. The bad news is they rate

support of multiple languages one of the top 2 challenges of operating

a Web site along with finding and retaining IT talent, according to

IDC's eWorld, 2001 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Biggest Problems with Operating eCommerce Site

The United States lags behind several other countries in terms of

percentage of Web sites that have more than one language (see Figure

2). In the United States, less than 12% of Web sites offer more than

one language, about even with the percentage in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, more than two-fifths (42.5%) of eWorld

respondents said supporting multiple languages on a Web site was

difficult or very difficult, giving the item a 4 or 5 on a 1-to-5-point

scale. The mean score among all respondents for multiple language

support was 3.2.

Large Organizations Feel the Pain

Not surprisingly, large U.S. organizations (with more than 500

employees) gave the language issue a higher score of difficulty (3.4),

because more of them have tried to provide multilingual Web sites.

The same is true worldwide -- multilingual support increases with

organization size. Large organizations are the most multilingual (41.2%

of large sites worldwide), and small sites are the least multilingual


Three out of four sites worldwide support English, but midsize

companies have the highest percentage (82.1%), according to

Multilingual Web Sites: Characterizing Organizations That Post

Multilingual Web Content (IDC # 25462, September 2001)

In the United States, the sector consisting of health, education, and

government has a large need for multiple languages to serve the diverse

U.S. population, and half of the respondents rated this a difficult or

very difficult challenge. The mean score accorded by this group was 3.6.

Money Talks

But when it comes to money, a higher percentage of U.S. sites accept or

plan to accept foreign currency (21%) than support multiple languages.

Interestingly, there's not much correlation between countries with a

relatively high percentage of multilingual Web sites and those that

take foreign currencies (see Figure 3).

Figure 2

The Language Barrier

Figure 3

Localization: Accept Foreign Currency -- Now or Planned

Related Research

ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon