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How to Adapt Your Website for China - Part 1

Posted in Business on April 10th 2014
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COO and Co-Founder

Global marketing campaigns are essential for any business/service to reach millions of people across the globe. In a technologically developed country like China, a progressive digital marketing campaign is certainly the most effective way to do this. However, when it comes to deploying digital contents, there are a number of factors you should consider and validate before you launch that digital campaign or an international website for your business.

If you are in charge of digital marketing campaigns at your company, today is your lucky day! Here is everything you should know before you adapt your website for China.

Localization of Digital Contents

Localization—with a high end user experience, is the key for a successful digital marketing campaign in China. There is a huge difference between translating a global marketing campaign and localizing it. Companies should understand regional differences and the technical requirements of the Chinese market and make them a priority rather than focusing all their resources into translations. Simply translating media content is never a good idea.

Moreover, web design should be adapted to fit Chinese culture and any strategy behind brand design should also be conceived in a way that it blends and flows well with the Chinese language. Chinese characters also give designers a wide range of possibilities to create cool design templates. For any human being, visual references in its own language will be more likable and powerful.

Web Technical Modifications

Even though we now live in an era of modern web standards, there are still plenty people out there who have never said goodbye to (the outdated) Internet Explorer 6 **- in China, that's over 9% of internet users. Yes, Internet Explorer is the **most popular web browser in China, mainly thanks to IE8's 34% market share.

This turns out to be a crucial aspect you need to keep in mind during front end web development. All developers know the challenges involved in making sure a web page works in all major web browsers. Some of them ignore IE8 compatibility - not a major issue if they are outside China - and convince clients that they only need to worry about the latest browsers.

We all know the problems that can arise from IE8, such as improper support of HTML5 and CSS3, lower speed, just to name a few. For developers, there are great ways to ensure compatibility with IE8 without having to sacrifice the experience for users of more modern browsers. Strategies such as CSS hacks and conditional comments can help make websites IE8 compatible. Also, please don't forget to use web safe fonts!

It is not Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari, but Microsoft's Internet Explorer the most widely used web browser in China.

Great Firewall of China

Admittedly we've all struggled when trying to use regular global services like Facebook, Twitter and Google Inc. within Mainland China.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is highly sensitive when it comes to controlling information online. Their "Great Firewall" literally kicks down your internet connection speed if you try to access a website abroad. Their control of information efforts include cracking down on so-called virtual private networks (VPNs) which is the main reason why your web experience in China is so unstable.

In terms of hosting, content hosted outside of Mainland China can be hard to access for Chinese users, not only due to the Great Firewall, but also because internet speeds vary greatly from one city to the next, so content deliverability is important if you want the Chinese localized version of your brand's official English website to have the same loading speed and user experience as it has in the US or Europe! Some scripts that could be loaded from outside Mainland China can result in slow loading speeds or simply errors. Even if a script is accessible in the beginning, there is not guarantee that it will be the case tomorrow.

Complications in Local Rules and Laws

Besides the above mentioned issues, there are few legal complications that can get in the way of a website operating effectively in China - the main one being the mandatory Internet Content Provider License or ICP License. This license is issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and it has to be acquired by anyone wanting to operate websites hosted within Mainland China.

Conclusion

In short, to achieve success, you should localize your brand and promote it through a dedicated digital marketing strategy. A website developed and designed with all the above mentioned issues in mind, will ensure that your web efforts are fruitful and productive, increasing your ROI.

If going through all these steps sounds daunting, feel free to discuss your web strategy with us. As a digital agency, we are always ready to help and boost your brand identity and adapt your website to succeed in the Chinese market.