Speaking the Same Language

Lancaster Languages provides bespoke language programmes, based in Lancashire.

Since 2008 the business has offered foreign language support to local clients and has helped foreign companies and individuals to improve their English skills.

After five successful years, Lancaster Languages’ founder, Hazel Nowell, saw an opportunity to develop international trade and brought Helen Walker on board as a co-director. “We were receiving increasing interest from international clients wanting to improve their English and, as English is the main language for business, we felt sure we could grow this side of our business”, explained Helen.

Lancaster Languages signed up to UKTI’s Passport to Export programme, helping small and medium enterprises to develop their international business. Throughout the programme, they worked with an International Trade Advisor, Sandra Thornber, who provided advice and guidance. It was apparent that the Lancaster Languages website was in need of an update. “We’d had the website for six years; we knew it was rather out-dated and didn’t particularly appeal to an international audience but, as skilled linguists and teachers, we were not sufficiently ‘techy’ to know what needed to be changed”, a common problem voiced by Helen.

To resolve this issue, Sandra recommended the Export Communications Review (ECR).The ECR provides practical, impartial and straightforward advice to help companies improve their communications with overseas markets. Each review is conducted by a communications expert and is tailored to the company’s individual requirements.

Hazel and Helen met with Emma Johnson, an Export Communications Consultant, and spent three hours reviewing the existing website in light of Lancaster Languages future plans. “The whole process was amazing!” explained Helen. “We’re both intelligent women but we were totally unaware of how to optimise our website”. After the meeting, Emma prepared a comprehensive report detailing her recommendations. “The report was thorough and accessible both to us and to our web-designers. It was incredibly detailed without being mired in detail”. Indeed, Helen was able to use the report as a brief for their web-designer. “Without the report, we’d only have been able to judge our new website by its aesthetics; with the report, we had step-by-step advice and knew the questions to ask”.

Some of the key recommendations included within the ECR report were:

  • International URL– a ‘.co.uk’ web address looks like a UK business and is less likely to be picked up by international search engines than one with a ‘.com’ address
  • In-bound Links– more, high-quality, in-bound links to the site improves its ranking in international search engines.
  • Mobile Responsive– as more searches are conducted on mobiles, Emma stressed the importance of having a ‘mobile-friendly’ site. In addition, Google rewards businesses with mobile-friendly sites by enhancing their search rankings
  • Simplified text– it’s common to use more complicated language than necessary in a website; Emma’s report highlighted where language could be simplified for a non-English speaking audience
  • Country specific changes– the report made recommendations to tailor certain pages for Lancaster Languages’ countries of interest: France, Germany, Japan, China and Greece.
  • Flags of the countries as a drop-down menu to ease navigation
    • FAQs translated into the key languages
    • Country-specific images and testimonials with meta-tags (both to appeal to the target audience and SEO)
    • International telephone dialling codes

“ We hadn’t realised that having localised country pages, such as testimonials in German, would help us climb the Google rankings!”

  • Social Media– Emma recommended the most important social media sites for each country and which were likely to be counter-productive.

Since the review, Lancaster Languages has found a new web-developer and is working through the recommendations in the report.

Helen was delighted with the Export Communications Review. “It’s so easy just to say, “That’s technology I don’t understand” and delegate the design of your website to a web-designer. The ECR has enabled us to take back ownership of this vital communication and has been the foundation of our web-redesign”.

If you are thinking about developing your website for an international audience then maybe an ECR could help you too?

The Export Communications Review

The Export Communications Review (ECR) is delivered nationwide by a network of specially-trained accredited export communications consultants. Together with the client, the consultant puts together a programme of reviews to suit the needs and complexity of the exporter and their goals. Each review costs £500 + VAT, however, established companies with fewer than 250 employees may be eligible for a UKTI subsidy of £250 towards the cost of each of their first three reviews.  

For more information, please visit www.ukti.gov.uk/ecr or contact the ECR team at the address below.

UK Trade & Investment is the United Kingdom Government’s lead organisation for supporting UK companies in overseas business, and attracting inward investment.

For more information please contact your ECR team on 0845 0342111 or [email protected].

Please follow this link to see how other Companies have benefitted from the ECR








Sectors: Business Services, Education & Training, and Professional Services
Topics: E-commerce
Export Action Plan