Brian in Jeollanam-do and Stafford of the Chosun Bimbo have already weighed in, but I sincerely hope this is a lesson in what NOT to do when building websites. Here's the website in question, http://www.visitkoreayear.com/, now presenting: What NOT to do when building a tourist website:
A screenshot of the home page to visitkoreayear.com, current as of the posting date.
- Don't use a slow-loading interactive-looking-but-really-not-interactive graphic.
- Don't use English without consulting an English speaker. Some words just don't go together - "Green & Human"? "City & Style" is marginally acceptable, but "Blue Ocean towards the World"? I'm not even off the home page yet (pictured above).
- Don't use an English word / phrase to describe something, then link to an all-Korean page. The 'Sitemap' and 'Quick Menu' buttons are guilty of this. The language you see should be an indication of the language you'll see on the next page.
- Don't use popups. They're annoying. Period. Heck, most internet-savvy people use a pop-up blocker for that very reason - meaning they never saw the pop-up about your English brochure. That there's no other way to access this English brochure is another strike.
- Don't use popups that popup everytime you access / go back to the main page. They're doubly annoying. Korea Times, I'm looking at you too!
- Don't use a language if it can't be translated by to a computer translation program (e.g. Google Translate, Babelfish) - pictures and Flash animations aren't recognized by these programs.
- Don't link to a Korean page without some kind of warning. You're showing you either A: don't understand your audience, B: haven't recognized that there are other languages in the world, or C: haven't taken a break from your computer to peek out at the real world.
- Don't forget that a fair percentage of computer users have a browser other than Internet Explorer. As a result, certain pages or page elements may be unviewable at worst, or not display correctly. Anecdotally speaking, these are the people most likely to try new things and get off the beaten path - the sort of thing you're encouraging people to do.
- Don't take too long to get to your point / message / the good stuff. Nielsen says the average internet user may spend 68 hours a month online, but they'll only spend a matter of seconds looking on a given page for their topic.
- Don't forget to run English by an English editor. It may not be Konglish, but it's still worth checking for meaning / comprehension. An example (from the brochure you can download in the pop-up you may or may not see): "Unlike previous Visit Korea years, which were one-year affairs, 2010—2012 Visit Korea Year will be promoted for three full years."
- Finally, don't bother with 'intro' videos, no matter how flashy you can make them. We don't care.
So that I don't come across as completely negative (I'm not, really!), let's point out a few things that work well for one excellent official Korean website, http://www.korea.net/
- Do use icons. In many cases they're recognizable no matter what language you speak. This shirt from Babo Shirts makes liberal use of them:
- Do offer information in intuitive-sounding categories. Simple enough, right?
- Do offer language choices on every page (part of the header / footer) - Google will not always lead a reader to your home page.
- Do use charts, pictures, and other features wisely. They make a point, make an impact, or make a page easier to look at.
- Do embrace Web 2.0. I may not necessarily want to follow you on Twitter (their stream is pretty good, for what it's worth) or become a fan on Facebook, but some people will.
- Do have a search bar handy - especially for larger sites and lots of information.
- Do give some hierarchical references (an example from korea.net - Home > Korea Info > History > Joseon)
- Finally, do give the reader plenty of information without having to click on thirteen things or search five times.