18 January 2021

Localization: when translation isn’t enough

Categoria: Linguistic Services

During this historic period, everyone increasingly goes to the Internet to buy products or services. A search engine presents us with all the websites with content matching our keywords, ranked based on its positioning algorithms.

When a search engine gives us a choice between one site in English and another in Italian, we all tend to choose the site in our native language, which is where we end up making the purchase. It is a spontaneous, perhaps unconscious choice influenced by various factors.

Perhaps we are not very familiar with the other language, so we prefer buying at a site where we’re sure we understand everything we read.

Or maybe, although we know the other language, we’re afraid of missing linguistic nuances, or we are unsure of our cultural awareness and are afraid of misinterpreting terms and idioms.

When we surf the web as customers, our personal tastes and perceptions guide our choices and behaviors. This is a well-known widespread practice and companies opening online stores should be well acquainted with it.

Everyone is now very aware that e-commerce has been growing fast, and it is increasingly common for customers to visit your website instead of physically going to a store. They decide within a few minutes, if not seconds, whether to buy from you or to click out of your site and turn to a competitor.

Clearly, you need to be prepared. To ensure that your website is effective and attracts customers, it must be a flawless virtual showcase that can welcome and accompany every visitor and potential customer.

The secret is to make customers feel at ease, ready to enjoy a unique experience that conveys value and captivates them in a breathtaking, impactful way.

How can this be done? It is fundamental that you first adapt your website so that the language, design and cultural references are carefully tailored to the specific audience you are targeting (the “buyer persona”). That is, you need to localize your website.

What does localization mean?

The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) defines localization as the process of adapting a product or service to a specific locale.

It takes more than just a good translation to ensure that your website effectively reaches its target audience. You need to make an extra effort and work on the text, taking into account the customs and traditions of the people you are targeting.

In other words, a translation that is limited to linguistic transposition of the text from one language to another is not enough — the content’s cultural implications must also be addressed.

To fully understand this distinction, just consider a common saying. In English, for example, a literal translation of the expression “It’s raining cats and dogs” into another language would not convey the original meaning. For instance, a different mental image is used to express the concept in Italian (“piove a catinelle”, literally, “It’s raining basins”).

It is therefore essential to understand the culture of the target audience in order to produce a translation that successfully captures and adapts every single cultural nuance. The process of localizing a text is complex and multifaceted and aims to modify the content while preserving the meaning, style and linguistic register of the original version.

Successful localization is not just about textual content, but also includes a number of related aspects such as design, the format of dates, times, addresses, etc., and finally graphic elements. A graphic that looks like a mailbox to an American may look like a loaf of cheese to someone in another part of the world.

In other words, localization is synonymous with enhancing the impact of a translation, which is key to determining the success of your business in new markets.

Why localize a website?

An online presence allows any company to address an audience of customers that is much larger than its physical audience, which is limited by physical constraints.

Expanding your business to international markets is a healthy growth strategy that requires an impeccable virtual showcase. This is why it is crucial to translate and localize your website.

Localization ensures that the product or service offered is seen as adapted to what the customer wants. For excellent results, you need to understand your audience’s tastes, habits and ways of communicating. This ensures an excellent user experience.

Communicating in the customer’s language and using a language register that reflects how they express themselves and their cognitive expectations will help you grab their attention and make them feel safe, just as if they were at home.

Indeed, localization is not only a means of communicating, but also of evoking positive feelings and emotions that help build a trusting relationship with customers. When users fully understand what they are reading, it makes them feel more confident, reinforces their purchase intent, and increases their motivation and the probability that they will stay at your website or e-commerce portal.

Localizing your website is a worthwhile investment if you want to overcome the logistical barriers of your target market.

Our mission is to improve communication across borders, which is why the services we offer include localization of websites, e-commerce portals and online marketplaces in all languages, a service that is now essential for every company.

Want to know more about our localization services? Read more here

Need to localize your website? Contact us


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