Website Localization – What Do You Need To Know?

Website Localization – What Do You Need To Know?

Breaking into a new market is never going to be easy, so brands need to make sure they create engaging marketing materials that address the target audience in their native tongue.  Research has shown that over sixty percent of web users will only purchase from sites in their own language. Considering that the native English speaking community comprises just six percent, and the potential worldwide e-market exceeds $44.6 trillion, that’s a rather large slice of ecommerce pie!

A vital part of this is the website, as for many people it will be the primary source of news and information about a company’s products and services.

But a well localized website is not going to be created overnight, as programming, copy, graphics, imagery and video all need to be carefully considered; this is why planning and execution are so important. 

Read on to find out a little bit more about website localization and some of the very basics of what should be considered.

Is the site static, database-driven or CMS-powered?
Depending on whether it is a static, database-driven or CMS-powered website, this will largely dictate the types of process you will be advised to follow by your localization provider – proxy or CMS plugin and  how the localization process is going to be implemented.

Align user experience with cultures
Website preferences are not ubiquitous and so companies should remember to tailor the user interface to suit different nations. For example, McDonald’s has a laidback layout and design for its US site, while its portal in Pakistan is more straightforward and streamlined, so the navigation is limited and is presented in a highly structured way at the top. Both of these sites have been designed to better appeal to the cultural preferences of this audience, which heightens the chances of establishing a web presence, increasing engagement and driving conversion.

Manage and customize your graphics
Companies using graphics are recommended to provide editable files. If these are not set up for localization from the outset, they can slow the whole process down significantly. For instance, if the graphics have been created with embedded text they will most likely require re-creation prior to translation which means additional costs and time have to be factored in. For every market, cultural sensitivity of images also has to be considered. What works in the UK, most likely won’t work in Japan, so don’t assume anything!

Plan for text expansion
Even in the day and age of responsive design websites, language and text expansion can still pose a major factor. Virtually all languages localized from English expand, so the layout and style of the website might have to be altered to reflect this. This could mean reducing the text size, trimming or optimizing image and graphic sizes for different devices or leaving out some information that might not be overly relevant to certain target audiences. By planning for this process from the start, design headaches can be avoided further down the line. You should check the design and code to make sure different text lengths are supported.

Does the site have ecommerce features?
Whether it is a shopping cart or payment gateway, the chances are that a third-party will be used to offer full payment processing. However, where will the burden of responsibility fall in terms of making this service multilingual? Also, will you be able to offer multiple currencies? Both the shopping cart and payment gateway will have hard-coded strings (e.g. fields where data is input) that may only be able to handle a limited number of characters – this means the application hasn’t been fully internationalized. If this is the case then you could have problems going into expansionary languages and coding services may be needed to rectify any issues with the hard-coded elements. 

Consider unique content creation
Not all content will be relevant to every market you operate in, so divide it into three groups; global, regional and local. But, make sure you use this information to influence your site design. For example, corporate announcements should be translated into every language you use, but a specific press announcement one country will not be of any relevance elsewhere in the world.

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