CULTURES (OURS and WWW)
Products and Services Canada is a company that spans cultures. Based in Montréal Québec, we live and thrive in a stew of multiculturalism. Our team of graphic designers and web developers have merged their cultural beliefs and customs into our products and services.

We are commited to designing products that help your website appeal to a world wide audience and all the cultural variations required. Our products are designed to adapt your websites to your target cultures with minimal effort on your part. Our most basic packages allow your websites presence for 2 cultures out of the box, we are often asked to add further cultures later and do this seemlessly, without interupting your web services or administration.

INTERNATIONAL CULTURES
Let’s start with a fact: the web is global. Nothing insightful about that statement, but for anyone undertaking any kind of creative endeavor in cyberspace, the fact that the ‘web is global’ should be an unspoken mantra that drives any design consideration.

Arabic, for example, has around 300 million native speakers around the globe, and as an official language in 26 countries (the third most after English and French), it’s clear that Arabic is a language that shouldn’t be ignored for those seeking to make serious inroads into international markets. Fancy graphics and cool colour schemes will certainly help sell your site to the masses – but ultimately, the old adage that content is king certainly rings true for most websites. If you are setting up a website primarily to be aimed at audiences in the US or the UK, that’s great. But what if your strategy changes later on? It’s much easier to develop the aesthetics, content, and format of your site from the start, rather than re-designing it later on.

No matter how you spell it or which direction you write it in, your appeal will be greater to each culture you publish your web pages for when you target that culture.

HOW WE HELP YOU CROSS CULTURAL BARRIERS:

"Clearly, you can’t structure the aesthetics of your website to please everyone" is a standard statement throughout the internet.
Don't be fooled into thinking this!
You can choose culturally sensitive content, colour schemes, layouts, and images for each culture – these changes mean different things in different cultures. For example, in the United Arab Emirates and other Arabic cultures, green signifies holiness or luck, whilst blue represents immortality and is deemed a ‘protective’ colour. Orange has religious connotations for Protestants in Northern Ireland, and whatever you do, you might want to avoid placing a green hat anywhere on your website, as this means that a man’s wife has been unfaithful to him in China.

IMAGES ARE EVERYTHING:

You can choose culturally sensitive images (or visual markers) to target your audience. Our products allow for these visual markers to be distinct for each targeted audience. A prime example of a culturally distinct marker would be the header image of your website. Throughout the world, websites are presented to audiences with their language in mind, however, common yet grave mistakes are made in the actual presentation and layout of the websites. In Chinese cultures, handing your business card to a client between your thumb and index finger while having your hand closed means you have something to hide, therefore an image of this type in your website will certainly leave the wrong impression to potential chinese clients.

NA bcard handed CH bcard handed
Our products allow you to select all your website images and backgrounds specifically for each culture.

MULTILINGUAL SEO

You might have the most beautifully designed website in the world, but if nobody can find it on the World Wide Web, then is there any point in it being there? Visibility is everything on the internet, which is why search engine optimisation (SEO) plays such a crucial part of any web content strategy. The issue of SEO is probably best left for another article, but for those who already optimise their English language site, it’s worth bearing in mind one golden rule of thumb when optimising your site for international markets: never translate your keywords directly. If you’re translating your website content yourself or using a translation agency, the keywords for which you rank highly on Google.com or Google.co.uk should be researched for each target country. A translator won’t know what people use to search for products or services locally, they may use synonyms, abbreviations or colloquialisms. Our products allow you to create SEO information on a language-by-language and page-by-page basis. As an added bonus, we also link you to a very detailed SEO verification process so you can see the immediate results of you SEO information and tune it to perfection right away.
Here is another fun little exercise...
Go to Google China and type "buy" in the search box. As you type the word "buy" look at the drop-down results. These reults come from the most sought and selected results on Google China.

LANGUAGE SPECIFIC TEXT

Many websites try to accomodate different languages by using images to display the language characters. This practice produces bad SEO output, bogs down the performance of each page, and becomes a slow, expensive, and inflexible development and maintenance process during the lifecyle of your website. Our CMS allows you to select the language and fonts of your choice. If you have custom fonts you prefer to use, these too can be included in the font menu of your CMS editor. If you simply type, import, or copy and paste your text into the editor your results will be true to that language.

ABOUT DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

Not all languages read from left to right. Arabic is one such language that reads in the opposite direction (right-to-left) and as such, this can throw up some issues when developing your design for specific markets. If your navigation bar is vertically positioned on the left-hand-side of your English language website, then in Arabic users will obviously have to read from right to left which means the navigation bar may not appear in your preferred position in relation to the direction the user is reading. Of course, it’s not the end of the world if you have to shift the navigation bar to the other side of the page for your Arabic site, but now you will have to develop a new website at almost double the cost. For simplicity – and uniformity – you may favour a horizontally positioned navigation bar. This means the rest of your design and layout templates can remain the same across all your sites, but what about the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, although they can be written left to right, the website must now be designed and markers chosen for their culture. And back to the content, the technical work behind the display of their text involves yet another cost. Where does it all end?
Our products are provided to you for use in any or all of the following languages while also maintaining those cultural markers.

Top 20 Countries for internet usageInternet users vs. population
Country/Region Script Language Direction Language
Afghanistan Arabic RTL Pashto
Armenia Armenian LTR Armenian
Austria Latin LTR German
Belgium Latin LTR Dutch, French
Brazil Latin LTR Portuguese (Brazilian)
Bulgaria Cyrillic LTR Bulgarian
China, except Hong Kong Simplified Chinese LTR or TTB Mandarin
Croatia Latin LTR Croatian
Czech Republic Latin LTR Czech
Denmark Latin LTR Danish
Estonia Latin LTR Estonian
Finland Latin LTR Finnish
France Latin LTR French
Georgia Georgian LTR Georgian
German Latin LTR German
Greece Greek LTR Greek
Hong Kong Traditional Chinese LTR or TTB Cantonese
Hungary Latin LTR Hungarian
India Devanagari LTR Hindi
Israel Hebrew RTL Hebrew
Italy Latin LTR Italian
Japan Kanji + Hiragana + Katakana LTR or TTB Japanese
Korea Hangul, Hanja LTR or TTB Korean
Latin America, except Brazil Latin LTR Spanish
Latvia Latin LTR Latvian
Lithuania Latin LTR Lithuanian
Middle East Arabic RTL Arabic
Netherlands Latin LTR Dutch
North America Latin LTR English, French, Spanish
Norway Latin LTR Norwegian
Pakistan Arabic RTL Urdu
Poland Latin LTR Polish
Portugal Latin LTR Portuguese (Portugal)
Romania Latin LTR Romanian
Russia Cyrillic LTR Russian
Serbia and Montenegro Cyrillic LTR Serbian
Slovakia Latin LTR Slovak
Slovenia Latin LTR Slovenian
Spain Latin LTR Catalan, Spanish
Sweden Latin LTR Swedish
Switzerland Latin LTR French, German, Italian
Taiwan Traditional Chinese LTR or TTB Mandarin
Thailand Thai LTR Thai
Turkey Latin LTR Turkish
United Kingdom Latin LTR English


WEBSITE BANDWIDTH

This may be hard to believe, but not all countries have high-speed broadband internet access yet. Much of South America, Africa and even parts of Asia are still on internet connections that most people in Western countries would deem ‘slow’. With that in mind, you may want to avoid really heavy graphics and bandwidth-sapping Flash animations – it’s unlikely web users will hang around for ten minutes for a picture to load on their screen. This doesn’t mean you should build text-only websites, but it does mean you should perhaps provide two options for web users: a simple HTML only version and a normal, flashy ‘bells and whistles’ version.