Website Localization Best Practices

by | Jul 3, 2020

Why You Need Website Localization

As more and more people worldwide are able to access the internet, your website will become an increasingly more valuable asset. Your website has the ability to attract new audiences, provide them with information about your product or service, and, finally, achieve a sale. However, for this to happen, your website’s message needs to be clear and fully understood by the individual reading its content. If such a reader resides in a foreign country and is not a native English speaker, your content needs to be translated into the local language. This is the first step in website localization.

Website Localization Best Practices 1

Why a Quality Translation Matters

But what about the quality of your translation? A poor translation will almost certainly change the meaning of the message you are trying to convey. It only takes a few incorrectly translated, misplaced, or out-of-context words. However, even if you think your translation is good enough, it is only the first step in the process called localization. 

Why Cultural Differences Matter

It’s not a good strategy to send the same message to potential customers in different regions of the world. Countries come with diverse cultural nuances, traditions, values, and social norms. Simply rolling out a one-size-fits-all website equates to treating your foreign language audience like second best. Ask yourself, are they going to buy from you if they don’t feel valued? So, how do you adapt your message to capture the interest and trust of all these different talking, different thinking target customers? The answer is through website localization

  • The key to good localization is to make sure that your website works and looks just as good as it does in its original language. The user experience should be equal in all languages.
  • Effective Localization Produces a Positive ROI – You can reach whole new markets by offering your product in more languages. The key to getting a good ROI is to ensure that the localization quality of your website is high. 

Localize Your Content With a Localization Team

A localization team need not be large. A small but efficient team is all it takes to get things right. At the end of the day, you need a team that is in line with your goals and understands what makes your intended customers tick.

There is more than one way to localize your content. You might employ in-house translators, use freelance translators, or work with a translation/localization service provider.  Whichever route you choose to take, there are some important considerations when you are building a successful localization team.

  • Everyone involved needs to understand the big picture. Identify what you are aiming to achieve with your localization project. No matter how talented your individual localization team members may be, they should not be allowed to end up going in different directions.
  • Once your website localization strategy is clear, identify the roles each person should fill and the tasks they will be taking on.
  • After establishing roles, make sure that each person is equipped with the necessary tools to accomplish their task. For example:
    • Do they have access to the required translation tools?
    • Are they able to use a terminology list? 
    • What is the plan for post-translation review?
    • How should communication between team members take place?

The Three “Cs” of a Successful Localization Team –

Collaboration  *  Cooperation  *  Communication

A localization project involves a number of people with different skill sets – the product developer, the localization project manager, the linguists, the subject expert. When your team members come together and collaborate, great things can be achieved. 

Avoid These Website Localization Issues

When translating and localizing your website, even small changes in format and layout can have serious ramifications for your user interface. The key is to keep localization concerns in mind during the initial design stage. Mentioned below are some common localization issues that should be considered when designing your website.

1. Changes in Text

This is one of the most common website localization issues. Readability is as important as grammatical accuracy, but the length of sentences can change by 40% to 100% when translating texts into different languages. This can lead to your website appearing cluttered. 

2. Different Character Sets

A  character set is the digital representation of the script of a language. English uses Latin script, whereas Chinese languages use holograms. Reading directions also vary by language – some languages are read from right to left. Your website needs the ability to accommodate such changes. The length of words also varies – German words are longer in width than Chinese.

3. Image Associations

Different cultural associations can prompt varying reactions to the same content. This also applies to images – innocent images in one culture may turn into causes for concern in other regions. Particular attention should be paid to hand gestures and clothing styles.

4. Inconsistent Formatting

Representations of data differ by region. Such data include numbers, dates, currency denominations, and postal codes. Proper care must be taken to represent them correctly on your website. 

5. Changing Time Zones

This is a major issue for developers. The earth is divided into forty time zones. Some regions, like the Gaza strip, even have multiple time zones. Keeping track of time with proper attention to daylight saving time is not an easy task.

6. Handling Input

Different languages have different syntaxes. This can lead to changes in the input format. Your code must take into account these variations in user input while generating output.

7. Switching Between Languages

Your users should be able to discover and switch to translated versions of your site without much effort. To make your localization even more effective, make sure that titles, headers, and links don’t break when switching between languages.

Use a High-Quality Translation Management Service

At Localize, we have made it our top priority to make translating your website as easy as possible. It’s hard enough to write good copy and content, and the last thing you need is for your team to have to remember what elements, links, and content need to be changed every time you release a new version of your product. Localize makes it easy to turn localization into the continuous process it should be rather than a one-time project. Talk to us to see how we can help you with your website localization.