The web is global
Putting the World into “World Wide Web” is Molly E. Holzschlag’s contribution to 24ways. Her article is about internationalisation, a subject that many web professionals do not spend a lot of time thinking about.
As an example Molly mentions the English and Arabic versions of the BBC News site and the design differences that are necessary to make for the Arabic version. The two screenshots really show you how much you may need to think about.
You don’t have to look outside the Western world to find examples of why internationalisation is important to keep in mind though. As a non-US citizen living in Sweden, I am very often met by number, time, and date formats that I need to translate to understand. Inches, miles, pounds, AM, PM, backward dates - all very unnatural to most Europeans. And why do I have to enter a state in many online forms even though I have already selected “Sweden” as my country? We don’t have the concept of states here. Neither do we write our phone numbers the way Americans do. So many of those little things make the web harder to use.