By Dr. Ajay Data, Founder and CEO, XgenPlus
Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) enable people around the world to use domain names in local languages and scripts (such as Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Gujarati and many more), thus making the global Internet accessible to billions of people who use languages other than English. IDNs are popular with non-English speakers, allowing them to create their own highly relevant online identities as well as navigate the Internet in their native languages.
To understand IDNs, it’s important to first understand the Domain Name System (DNS). Consider the analogy of “speed dial.” Today, most people have a phone, regardless of their Internet experience, aptitude or skill level. And given that most humans face challenges in remembering phone numbers and even more complex numbers like IP addresses, they use speed dial on their phones and keep contacts so that they don’t have to remember and dial all the numbers. Domain names are like speed dial for accessing and connecting to the Internet.
Humans have a variety of languages and alphabets that are familiar to them, and domain names do, too. IDNs unlock an increased familiarity and affinity for people looking to navigate the Internet in their native languages, making IDNs a key strategic investment for your company’s future.
The benefits of adopting IDNs can be numerous, and they include the following:
- Increased competitive advantage – Support for IDNs allows companies to serve customers in their native language, whatever that might be, and puts them ahead of competitors who may not have local language support. IDNs represent a significant economic opportunity; a report commissioned by the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) found that online spending from new IDN users could start at USD 6.2 billion per year. This number is conservative and is specific to the millions of NEW internet users who could come online thanks to IDNs.
- Better user experience, customer satisfaction and retention – Internet users the world over enjoy being able to navigate the web in their native language, and that includes having an email address that best reflects their sense of identity. Email Address Internationalization (EAI) offers ease of use, including entry (typing, handwriting recognition and voice), visual, memory recall and easier site navigation – leading to a better user experience and increased satisfaction. Companies that want to implement EAI should do it now. Delaying implementing EAI increases the cost of its eventual implementation as it could mean rewriting or re-architecting code that is in development now. It also increases technical debt that will need to be resolved at some point.
- Improved reach and stronger branding – IDNs may also improve SEO (search engine optimization) rankings. Early IDN adopters will have an advantage in terms of search results and rankings for their site. Also, as people tend to understand and visualize their native language more strongly, IDNs make it easier for users to recognize phishing or other malicious variants of a company domain name. IDNs also help protect brand names and prevent others from infringing on a company’s rights to a domain name or using it to harm the brand or the site’s SEO.