A Simple Plan for Globalizing Websites

Wireframes - International microsites

Until the summer of 2015, Extreme Networks, a leader in software-driven networking solutions, used a website localization system that was seen by many as being ineffective. The 33 most popular pages were translated, and the entire website was published in four different languages.

The drawback to this system was that the user had no way of knowing if the next link they clicked on would bring them to a page in their native language or a page in English. These sites also didn’t have dedicated people who could maintain these massive sites. Because of this, information was often outdated, or it didn’t apply to a particular region. For example, I went to our German web page at one point to see a large banner promoting a US-only K-12 funding program.

It was so ineffective that our German marketing manager told us to remove the link to the German site. He would rather have his customers, partners, and prospects go to the English-only site.

Knowing this was an issue that I had inherited when I took over the reins of digital marketing, I met with a few key people and proposed a plan: Simple microsites that would be an introduction to Extreme and wouldn’t need a lot of manpower to maintain.

Because Extreme doesn’t have dedicated marketing people in each of our 80+ countries, these sites had to work with countries with dedicated marketing managers, as well as countries that don’t have dedicated resources.

I created a sitemap showing seven key pages: Home page, Products, Solutions, Resource Center, Where to Buy, Events, and Contact Us.

Then I worked up wireframes, and eventually all of the graphics for the core site. We also identified six assets that would be translated and published to the Resource Centers. Working with the Marketing Automation team, we build out forms for many of these assets.

Working with the Senior Director of Field and Channel Marketing, we came up with the plan to roll out four sites per quarter until we had coverage for many of the largest countries.

We worked with an outside agency, 3 Media Web, to develop the WordPress microsites. Using WordPress would allow easy access for each of the country’s marketing managers if they needed to post their own content in the Resource Center or Events in their country.

Our internal IT department helped integrate the microsites with our corporate site. One tricky part was the integration of our Partner Locator on the Where to Buy page. This list pulls data from Salesforce, so there was some integration work that needed to be done.

As for translations, I used Lionbridge’s On-Demand service (thanks to Lauren Forest for around-the-clock support). This platform worked perfectly for us. I uploaded an HTML file with all of the content for all of the web pages. I also uploaded each of the assets that would be translated. Selected the first four languages, and submitted my order. Within the week I had everything I needed. A quick look over by the local reps ensured that what was translated was correct.

Because we adopted WordPress multi-site for this build-out, it’s very simple to replicate the site whenever we want to publish a new language. Then it’s a simple process to copy/paste or post the translated content.

For the countries that have dedicated managers, they are able to add their own content whenever they create new assets. For the other countries, corporate marketing translates and posts at least one new asset each quarter. We also keep major news or product family changes updated.

Since we moved to the microsite solution, we have launched 11 local websites that have led to a huge influx of new form conversions, which of course is what feeds our pipeline and sales.

Special thanks to those who also helped with the project: Kate Gilbert, Sr. Associate Web Developer, Gus Carlson, Sr. Digital Marketing Specialist, Dan Poumakis, IT Co-Op, Kaitlyn Mendez, Marketing Automation Specialist, Fredrik Sjostedt, Sr. Director of Field and Channel Marketing, and his global team.

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