FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2006
Workshop on Culturally Customizing Web Sites Attracts 80 Participants from Seven Countries
What is it worth to businesses to have good language translations and culturally sensitive designs on Web sites that market international products? Billions of dollars, according to California State University, Chico professors who are hosting a training on campus this week for 80 participants from seven countries in how to customize Web sites for different cultures.
CSU, Chico's College of Business has the country's first comprehensive program in what is called e-business localization, thanks to a grant from the Business International Education Program, U.S. Department of Education, and matching funds from the University and private businesses for a total of a $502,000.
Localization experts from Google, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and other industry leaders will be presenting during the CSU, Chico training workshop, which starts tomorrow, June 20, and runs through June 22 in Glenn Hall on the CSU, Chico campus.
CSU, Chico business professor Nitish Singh, coordinator of the training, said participants will learn about organizational practices and new software tools designed to avoid costly problems such as poor language translations and cultural gaffes that alienate customers.
Shekhar Misra, chair of CSU, Chico's Department of Finance and Marketing and an expert in international marketing, said U.S. companies can be at a disadvantage in the international marketplace when it comes to e-business. "Many other competitors, such as the Europeans, have a leg up, because of their greater familiarity with multiple languages and cultures," Misra said.
Singh, co-author of "The Cultural Customized Web Site," said that language is not the only parameter. Colors, numbers, symbols and other elements that may be on a Web page hold different meanings in different cultures, and can offend if used insensitively, he said. Singh said some examples are:
- The swastika, which is a symbol used by many ancient cultures, including Hindu and Buddhist cultures, but became the symbol of Nazi Germany;
- The number four, which means bad luck or debt in Japan;
- The color white, which symbolizes purity in a Western-style wedding dress but is worn by widows in parts of Asia and is not welcome at joyous occasions.
Singh said localization is now an $8 billion business worldwide. One industry leader, Massachusetts-based Lionbridge, has offices in 25 countries and estimated annual revenues at $400 million.
Workshop participants range from corporate employees charged with localizing e-business sites to students specializing in international marketing, Singh said.