This year the User Experience Alliance (UXalliance), a global network of leading user research firms, celebrated World Usability Day by unveiling the preliminary findings of the first “Global-Local Monitor” conducted on airline Web sites.
The Global-Local Monitor assesses how well a site is localized or adapted to local language and culture. Localization is based on factors such as the proper use of local languages, character sets, weights and measures, currencies, dates and times, and culturally sensitive imagery. In this case, how well an airline’s Web site is localized could measurably impact their customer’s ability to complete travel bookings or find important information. Ultimately it impacts brand perception and sales.
The Global-Local Monitor for airlines drew upon the talents and expertise of over 70 user experience professionals from 17 countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas; this is the broadest systematic localization review ever conducted by user experience professionals. The Global-Local airline monitor involved five local user experience experts in each country, each reviewing the ten Web sites on 30 localization criteria.
The ten Web sites surveyed were those shortlisted for the Skytrax Airline of the Year Award, which annually rates airline performance by more than 16 million air travelers.
The UXalliance investigated whether the airlines recognized by their outstanding service in the air also deliver that same outstanding service in their online customer experience to users in various locations around the world.
The findings reveal that, out of the world’s ten top-rated airlines, Emirates, Quantas and Qatar Airways rated highest in terms of meeting of the needs of local users around the world. The determining success factors were information in the local language, culturally appropriate character sets, colors schemes and imagery, and well-localized calendar formats. The airlines that rated lowest tended to be less developed or representative of the local markets. The full localization ratings and rankings were as follows:
Through their extensive experience in global user research, the UXalliance knows that companies that do a great job in localizing their sites have a higher probability of connecting with their customers and maximizing the profitability of their local Web sites. “When facing a global audience, localizing your Web site in all aspects is key to maximizing the user’s experience. Translation alone does not equal localization, and ensuring designs that respect cultural awareness is quite important. By not localizing sites, global organizations risk reduced task completion and conversion rates and increased customer support costs,” explains Anna Haywood, Senior Consultant at Serco ExperienceLab (UK).
A full detailed report of the “Global-Local Monitor: Top Rated Airlines” study will be available in December on request from [email protected]