With the explosion of the Internet, the need for multilingual Web sites becomes more than a luxury for the companies who wish to reach worldwide customers. Although the majority of the Internet users speak English and over 80% of the Internet content is in English, the statistics show that this is changing at a fast pace. The Asia Pacific countries have the fastest growth of Intemet infrastructure and usage. Today, there are 5.6 million Internet users in Japan, 1.3 million in Taiwan, and 1.2 million in Australia. The Internet users in Europe show a similar trend, with 4.5 million in Germany, 4 million in UK, and 1.5 million in France. By year 2002, it is expected that there will be 300 million Internet users, and 50% of them will be non-English speakers. Another fact is that the intemationalization and localization is not just a country issue. Even within the United States, multilingual and cultural issues exist. People in the U.S. speak different languages, and belong to diverse ethnic groups. For example, the percent of people speaking languages other than English is 78% in Miami, 49% in Los Angeles, 45% in San Francisco, and 42% in New York. Based on these statistics, we expect that the need for multilingual and multicultural sites is increasing dramatically. For example, The Los Angeles Times is putting up a Spanish page Web site that translates daily news into Spanish ( Woods, 1998).
From just about any country, you can reach anywhere and view any Web site. When you publish a Web site on the Internet, you are already reaching global users. Anyone in the world can access your Web site, can look at what you offer, and can engage himself/herself with the world that has no boundaries. Your site can be a great source for branding, electronic commerce, or market analyzer. Accessing to a wider audience in their own language and cultural content provides great opportunities. But we cannot reach our customers if we
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Publication information: Book title: Human-Computer Interaction:Ergonomics and User Interfaces. Volume: 1. Contributors: Hans-Jörg Bullinger - Editor, Jürgen Ziegler - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 1218.