If you weren’t aware, the Internet is a rather large place. Not only that, but it happens to be a place where more than just Americans reside (though often times they don’t seem to notice). More and more the World Wide Web is becoming just that: A worldwide entity designed to promote communication between people, cultures, and ideas. And it’s your job, as a designer, to aide this process, especially in a scenario where a client demands it.

With that in mind, if you’ve been charged with creating a cross-cultural project for a needy client, there’s no need to panic. You don’t need to know fifteen languages to make your project cross-cultural. In fact, all you really need are the few steps we’ve laid out below:

  1. Do the Research: If your client has given you a specific region or country in which they’d like to expand their presence, do as much research as you can into the popular culture and design tastes of the populace. What symbols that are used in the Western World simply don’t translate into the researched location? How can you tailor your designs to specifically address the traditions and desires of the target market? Do you even have a comprehensive understanding of the people you’re addressing your project to? If the answer is no, you haven’t done quite enough reading.
  2. Emphasize the Intuitive: When working across language barriers, you’ll want to take every step possible to ensure that your website is understood without language. If you removed all of the instructional copy from your site, could your users still navigate it effectively, reaching all of the important parts without fuss? If not, rework things so that their meaning is apparent in form, as well as text. This will aide those who aren’t primary language speakers.
  3. Translate Effectively: When creating translations of your texts, be sure to higher an actual, professional translator. Nothing turns off a reader more than an absolute massacre of their birth language. Likewise, keep in mind that accents and regional differences may apply with certain languages. You’ll want to cater specifically to the dialects and desires of the target market, taking great pains to ensure the validity and fluidity of the translated text. Don’t skimp on the details here: Language is a private, personal, and powerful way to communicate within foreign markets.