Global content strategies for an international company

Website-Design-Going-GlobalEarlier this week I met up with a couple of agency colleagues over lunch to discuss their challenges with a client’s global content strategy. The client, which has offices across the globe, recently decided to redesign their website. As part of the redesign, they also invested in an enterprise content management system (CMS) platform with the goal of globally rolling out the newly designed websites on the same technology platform.

The client had already completed their initial discovery/strategy, worked out a new website taxonomy and was pretty far along in approving the website creative. Everything was coming together until the US marketing team shared their plans, taxonomy and designs the Asia Pacific marketing team. On the worldwide marketing teams call, the Asia Pacific team raised a red flag: initial feedback for the creative indicated that the new designs did not resonate with users in the Japan market. Specifically, those users wanted the designs to have “more imagery and less text.” Furthermore, the Asia Pacific marketing team was concerned that the proposed site taxonomy did not align with the products/services that were offered in that region. This meant that their plan to globally clone the sites using the US website (aka, the Master site) in each locale (aka, country and language) was not viable. So what was the US marketing to do? How could they develop a new website yet make the site templates flexible enough to support the Asia Pacific region?

My solution to this challenge was to switch from a global cloning approach to a regional cloning approach. The client could proceed developing the US website and leverage that for other countries in the Americas region. And, the Asia Pacific team would develop a custom website (aka an alternate Master site) which could then be leveraged for countries within their region. To take advantage of the global CMS platform, a shared assets folder would be created so that each region can re-use common functionality on their sites. This way, the Asia Pacific region could leverage as many, or as few, assets from the Master site as they wished (see image below).

global-custom-website-strategy-cms

Why use this approach? Because the Asia Pacific websites require a unique taxonomy to support their products/services. If the regions agreed to the same taxonomy, then the initial plan to globally clone the Master site and then personalize the websites (aka, update messaging and imagery) based on the region would have sufficed. Again, these paradigms of world-wide cloning and regional cloning are not uncommon among global websites. For example, Atlanta-based PGI (telecom industry) uses a unique look and feel for the US website yet the PGI Japan website uses an alternate look and feel.

pgi-web-us-jp

Conversely, EMC (Data Storage Devices industry) uses similar taxonomy across the globe (see the US vs. Japan).

emc-web-us-jp

What are some other solutions to this global website strategy problem?