n today’s global economy, companies are able to reach prospective clients in more diverse markets with the use of the Internet. Did you know that 89% of internet users are outside of the United States, and of those, 72% spend most of their time on sites in their own language? If you truly want to be global, it is imperative that your website be localized in a way that is more than just translating words on-page.
Localization involves changing and adapting a website to fit a local language and culture for a target market. Website localization is more than changing the text; it’s impacting the global audience with graphics, videos, metaphors, characters, and stories that seem authentic and native to their specific culture. This also includes changing currency, time and dates, telephone numbers, and measurement units as well.
Know YOUR Audience
Before you begin the process of website localization, you must understand your target market. Google Analytics is a great tool to get started in determining who is looking at what on your website (plus, it’s free!). However, the best resource to leverage is a partner who is experienced in language, culture, and Globalization. You may choose to localize your website by country or by language but keep in mind that there may be several official languages in a specific country and while core languages might be similar, they can have very different styles. For example, if your target market is Puerto Rico, a well-localized website might look very different than one targeting Spanish speakers from Spain.
Language Selection Functionality
Make the language selection of your website as easy to find and change as possible. We recommend using a globe icon or other universal symbol and placing the icon permanently in the website header. Keep language selection consistent by always keeping the language or language code in the target language.
Avoid country flags whenever possible as well. There are many political and cultural implications behind the use of a country flag and the flag may not represent a user’s country or language as stated in the example above in reference to Spanish.
Translation might be the most important part of a successful localization. It is less about getting the words translated and more about the intent of the message. Using a free translation tool like Google Translate is not enough to ensure that the spelling, grammar, and subtle nuances of your product descriptions and services are correct. At best, it provides a word-for-word translation with no consideration of the context.
You must ensure that your brand’s image is translated similarly and impacts the global audience the same way it does the English Audience. If the spelling, grammar, or context of the product or service descriptions are incorrect, it will take away the credibility of those products and services and the customer will lose trust in your company. It needs to feel authentic; localization needs to feel LOCAL.
Make Updates Regularly
It is important to stay up to date with changing content. Localization should be viewed as a continuous process and as you update the English version of your website, you should do the same with your localized pages. Working with an experienced partner will ensure that the localized versions of your website stay consistent.
If you keep translation in mind when creating your website, you can help make website localization easier down the road. Translated text can expand up to 50% from the original script and on average 20-30%. You can avoid the problems associated with text expansion (like having to use a smaller font or cutting copy) by creating a scroll bar in your text boxes. It is never too early to prepare for localization, and designing your website with localization in mind will make the process easier and more cost-efficient.
For more information on how to localize your website and how to reach more prospective clients in the global marketplace, contact Ingenuiti today.