Website localization is a service that has risen to prominence in recent years in response to the need to satisfy the requirements of today’s user-centric market.
The concept of User Experience (UX) is becoming increasingly bespoke, with websites being customized to suit the target audience in question. And an essential part of this is ensuring that digital content is adapted to reflect the target culture, rather than purely focusing on translation.
What is localization?
On the simplest level, website localization – and indeed localization for any kind of text – is the process that happens after translation itself.
The translation process concentrates solely on the linguistic side of the text, converting it from the target language to the source language. The result is a translated text which remains faithful to the original, yet is fluid and easily understandable for the target audience.
Localization goes one step further, introducing the concepts of linguistic and cultural adaptation. This process not only makes a text more accessible for native speakers of a specific language, but also helps to guarantee that the message is instantly and completely understandable by ensuring that it comes across naturally and spontaneously – as if it were originally conceived in the target language and culture.
It’s a process that draws on a range of different disciplines, helping to bring the content in line with the expectations of the target audience using not only language but also the specific cultural, social and communicative reference points to which target readers are accustomed.
As such, localization usually offers plenty of poetic license to translators, who are entitled to make significant changes to and departures from the original text.
Localization focuses on linguistic elements such as:
- alphabets and writing systems (e.g. right-to-left writing in Arabic)
- numbering systems
Yet the most elements targeted during localization are cultural and social:
- sayings, puns, irony and sarcasm (including the famous British sense of humor, which the rest of the world seems to struggle to understand!)
- date and time formats (in American English, dates are written month, day then year, so when we write 04/07/2020, an American would read this as 7 April 2020)
- currencies, including the latest conversion rates
- weights and measurements and sizes, which are different for each country
- images and colors, including the cultural factors that are so closely linked to these (for instance, in China red symbolizes luck and joy, making it ideal for a Call To Action, whereas in Italy red symbolizes danger and tends to be avoided in such contexts)
These are just a few of the many complex issues you need to consider when localizing content.
Why localize a website?
Localization is a process that is applicable to any type of text. Having said that, there’s no doubt that localization is most effective in areas just as communications, advertising, marketing, software, apps and websites.
Any content that targets users with the aim of engaging them, helping them and winning and retaining their loyalty can’t afford to overlook the benefits of localization.
There are nearly 4.54 billion people on the internet nowadays. According to Common Sense Advisory, 72% of internet users demonstrate a strong preference for browsing and/or making purchases from websites which have information translated and localized into their native language.
Often, a well-localized website can be more important than price when it comes to deciding to make a purchase.
Translating a website may make it easier to understand the information, boosting user confidence and increasing the conversion rate, but localization further optimizes the Customer Experience (CX) by ensuring the content is not just accessible but carefully tailored to fit the expectations of the user.
Website localization starts with translation, but also includes:
- Translating the meaning behind the meaning, to ensure that the message is conveyed effectively in every language using the process of transcreation and to adapt the tone of the communication to the technical standards, stylistic requirements and other expectations and demands in the target market
- Converting currencies, sizes and units of measurement
- Adapting legal information to reflect the applicable legal framework
- Reviewing privacy regulations
- Reconfiguring the layout of text and other content
- Transforming graphic elements and scripts and bringing these in line with the localized text
- Undertaking a process of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on the entire website, translating the metadata, using a local domain and ensuring optimum keyword positioning in the translated texts in order to ensure the best possible positioning in the target language and across the various international search engines
Website localization – as we’ve seen – is a highly complex process, drawing on a range of specialist skills in order to ensure optimum effectiveness. As such, it’s vital that companies turn to professional translation agencies, with a team of dedicated professionals, for all their website localization needs.
The only way to guarantee that content is of a high quality in every language is to draw on the collaborative efforts of qualified translators, transcreators and native-speaker copywriters, underpinned by SEO specialists in the target languages. It’s this approach that will boost engagement with end users by optimizing the positioning of a particular website in local search engines.
For any company looking to expand around the world, localizing their website, marketplace or online store is essential. But not all localization services are equal! Come and discover ours – you’ll be amazed by the results!