ULG's Language Services Blog

Web Localization Done Right



In this day and age, there aren’t many excuses for companies that don’t tap into foreign markets.

The Internet has made global marketing more of a necessity than an option for business. With over 3 billion users worldwide, the web presents an amazing opportunity for companies to sell and advertise their products online.

But, before one goes global with their website content, it’s important to have a plan. Website localization can be made complicated if businesses don’t speak the same language as their global clients.

Localization vs. Translation

There’s often a notion that the terms localization and translation are interchangeable. They’re not. While translating content is the process of transferring text from one language to another, localization adds another step.

Localization means making sure content is delivered in a way that is culturally appropriate and accessible. This could entail altering images, navigation, color, or other elements of a website in order for it to adapt to a certain region.

Even if content is translated by a skilled linguistic professional, there could be methods of delivery that don’t go over well with the intended audience. For example, Japanese websites are often very “busy” and filled with content, a trait not shared in the Western world. To properly localize a website for Tokyo, one would want to have space filled with text and images to make it culturally familiar.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the factors that help to create strong localized content.

Speak Their Language

First and foremost website localization requires content that is correctly translated. Too often companies decide to use a free online translation tool like Google Translate. Even with neural machine technology, these programs can produce faulty translations and are not recommended without a linguist double checking for errors.

Recruiting a reputable Language Solutions Provider (LSP) is key to making sure your site succeeds in a global market. Translation mistakes can be embarrassing and bring severe damage to a company’s reputation.

Make it Easy

If clients can’t navigate your website, they can’t buy your products. Companies need to create an intuitive user interface that won’t scare visitors away. It’s a good idea to provide a language selection option in a place that’s easy to find, preferably on the site’s landing page.

Another option is creating multiple sites for different countries and languages, instead of having one website that can be translated into more than one language. The decision is up to the company, but having multiple sites can make it seem like there’s more of a local touch for each.

Know Who You’re Talking to

This sounds obvious, but it doesn’t get through to everyone. It’s necessary to keep a brand identity when moving content into new markets, but it’s also essential to tweak your language to make it culturally appropriate. Hiring an LSP with native speakers will help to ensure you’re speaking the same language as your target market.

If a company uses some kind of metaphor or wordplay in a slogan or title, it most likely won’t maintain the same meaning in another language, even if each word is correctly translated.

It’s crucial to get the little things right, too. Be cognizant of the styles for date and times, measurements and your site’s general layout in order for it to match up with the country you’re marketing in.

Streamline the Process with a Strong CMS

The tools you use to localize your website play a big role in how well your content will transfer. Choosing a content management system (CMS) that takes translation into account will be an advantage while localizing online content. When words are translated they will have different character counts and therefore need a design interface that accommodates this. A word or phrase in English might need a bigger text box when translated to Chinese.

A CMS that handles right-to-left text, such as Arabic, is a plus, too. At some point, you’ll most likely have content or comments on your site that aren’t in the target language. Having a CMS that has translation capabilities remedies this problem.

Why Localize?

Companies that successfully localize their content create opportunities to expand their business; and, it’s what consumers want. GALA has some impressive stats on the importance of localization, including the fact that 56 percent of consumers say the ability to get information in their own language is more important than price.

Making content adaptable for different audiences is beneficial to companies and consumers, and a strategic localization approach creates a streamlined experience for both parties.