Note: I'm living in China since July 2015 and web strategy is my bread and butter.
Searching for an English speaking web strategist? [hire me.]mighil.com
And I'm not one of these guys ^
Global marketing strategies are essential for any business/service to reach millions across the Globe. But when it comes to deploying digital campaign in China, there are ‘n number‘ of factors you should consider and validate before its launch. In case you are responsible for the digital marketing campaign at your company, this is your lucky day. Let's discuss how to build a good website that works in China.
Design & ContentLocalization of Digital Content
Localization + user experience, that's the key for successful digital marketing campaign in China.
There is a huge difference between translating global marketing campaign and localizing it.
Companies should understand regional differences and technical requirements of the Chinese market and give it more importance rather than hiring an agency for translation. Mere translation of media / digital content is never a good idea at all. On the top of that—website design should be widely focusing all classes of Chinese people respecting their culture. And the poster design strategy should also correlate in such a way that brand blends with Pinyin.
Designers also have wide range of possibilities to create cool design templates using Standard Chinese / Pinyin characters. Visual treatment in mother-tongue will be more likable and convincing, innit?
Local Rules and Laws
There are few legal complications to operate a website in China effectively. Internet Content Provider License (ICP License) carried out by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China is a mandatory factor to operate websites hosted within Mainland China.
Golden Shield Project
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is highly sensitive when it comes to online censorship. The Golden Shield Project a.k.a "Great Firewall" literally kicks down your internet connection speed when you try to access a website abroad.
Their censorship efforts includes blocking potentially unfavorable incoming data from foreign countries, cracking down virtual private networks etc.,
So, forget about linking Facebook, Twitter, Google Fonts, Google Maps and Google+ with your localized website.
What are you waiting for? go on and design a website that is intended for Chinese audience.
Development, Launch & OptimisationAssuming that you've finished design and content, let's talk more about development and optimisation best practices now.
Forget about Google Fonts in China. All Google services are blocked here. And most of the developers outside China like to import Google fonts from https://fonts.google.com/.
Qihoo 360 (a well known Chinese internet security company), offers free mirror of Google Fonts on their own CDN servers across China. Now your site will be tad faster to your Chinese audience, since all the css and font files are on 360’s own CDN in China.
You can self host google fonts on your own server using google-webfonts-helper developed by majodev.
Facebook, Twitter & Youtube
Don't use Google, Facebook or Twitter APIs on a website intended for China. It will adversely affect the web-page loading speed. Best thing you can do is:
Assign your local team to create Sina Weibo, WeChat and Youku (or other domestic video streaming website) official accounts and link them on your website.
Use .jpg format for normal uploads and .png formats for logos and favicons. Make sure images are compressed decent enough for web-page loading.
Use alt-tags for images.
Use "Save for web" feature in Adobe Photoshop / Illustrator while saving images. This ensure proper encoding with reduced size.
Local Domain Name Servers
Domain Name Servers (DNS) are the Internet's equivalent of a phone book. They maintain a directory of domain names and translate them to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
If you've bought a domain abroad, the DNS servers must be in U.S or in Europe. It will affect the loading time of website and even Great Firewall may block your DNS.
Use a local DNS such as dnspod.cn.
Always rely on a VPS when you're hosting website in China. Shared hosting/ Shared IP server hosting can be risky.
If Great Firewall doesn't like one of the websites on the shared IP server, they will block the IP, hence you're doomed.
You can either buy VPS from mainland or from nearby countries. I'll list few providers. Prices may vary according to storage and bandwidth.
- DigitalOcean (What I use)
- Amazon Web Server (servers in Japan and Singapore)
- 阿里云 (Alibaba Cloud)
In addition you should consider registering for Baidu Webmaster tools to check the search engine index status of your website on Baidu Search Engine.
That being said, there is always room for optimization.