Geographical Variations of your Websites

How many versions of your website do you need.  For many web designers it might seem a strange question, after all why would you need to create multiple versions of a single website?   The reality is that the web is changing and ‘the one size fits all’ mentality is no longer appropriate especially for web sites that reach across geographical and international boundaries.

Take for example the BBC website, one of the most popular news and media sites on the internet.  The main version of the site is freely accessible but only to people connecting from the United Kingdom, if you access from somewhere outside the UK then you are redirected to an ‘International version’.   This version is effectively delivered to all non-British connections and is somewhat different from the standard version. In the International version, most of the programmes and videos are removed mainly due to the licensing restrictions under which the BBC operate.

For example if you try and watch the BBC Iplayer abroad, you’ll be unable to use the application at all.  The website does this by determining your location when you initially try and connect to the site.  It logs the connecting IP address and then looks up the geographical location that IP address is logged to. The process is called geotargeting and it is widely used particularly by larger websites with global presence.

One other example is where you will be automatically redirected to a particular language version determined by your location, so if you access a large site from France then you will be presented with a French language version of the site. Of course this takes a lot of effort to redesign a whole website and is probably unmanageable for the vast majority of organisations.  However there are options for conducting some level of geographical localisation for any website.  There are options for WordPress owners for instance, simple plugins that will detect the visitor’s address and prepare a translation of the web page visited.

Although preparing different versions for the benefit of viewers from different countries, there is another important motive – that of profit.   Companies who actively sell online realise that to maximise the value of their sales they need to distinguish between the different markets.  You can sell at vastly different prices depending on the respective markets, but in order to do this you need to ensure that these markets are kept apart by producing different prices depending on their location. For example if you log on to the games site called Steam in South America you’ll see much lower prices than if you connected from mainland Europe for instance. The games and software are identical the only difference the price which simply depends on your location.

Further Reading

Streaming BBC News Online


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