AboveNet : Defeating the object
A contact strategy loses impact in translation.
AboveNet, a US-based international bandwidth service provider, mishandles its effort to attract potential customers in continental Europe.
AboveNet incorporates a set of four graphic language buttons at top right of all pages on its UK site, for English, French, German and Dutch. In each case the button triggers a version of the About overview in the corresponding language. The page’s sidebars remain in English, however.
In the English version, the page opens in the About section, where the left-hand bar shows the section menu followed by the sales contact details for the four featured countries. For the three other languages, however, the overview opens on a Products & Services section page, where an expanded section menu and a list of worldwide service locations is shown and pushes the Contact Sales details below the scroll (i.e. they are not visible when the page opens). The right-hand bar is consistent in both locations; it is headed ‘Quick Links. Contact Sales By Region’ and opens the Contact Sales page in the Contact section.
At first sight the ubiquitous language buttons appear to offer either links to country sites or translation tools, an impression reinforced by their universal presence. That they always lead to the About overview is frustrating, and does AboveNet no favours in seeming to highlight a very limited approach to (or capacity for) localisation. The underlying strategy of providing a local-language overview and pushing people towards a local contact is, nevertheless, a legitimate one. Its effectiveness is impaired, however, even on its own terms by poor implementation.
The lack of translation in the sidebars may be the consequence of an inflexible, English-language template, but the decision to set the overview for the non-English buttons in a Products & Services page is simply ill judged. If the strategy is to channel French, Dutch and German visitors to their local contacts, the extra clutter in the Products & Services side bar merely gets in the way of this. English visitors are made immediately aware of the information because of the way the About section page to which they are sent is made up; it should be a simple task to highlight the information for the others in the same way.http://www.abovenet.co.uk
First published on 08 December, 2011