Website localization is the process of adapting an existing website to the local language and culture in the target market. It is the process of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural context— involving much more than the simple translation of the text. This modification process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the site – all while maintaining the integrity of the website. Culturally adapted websites reduce the amount of required cognitive efforts from the visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable. The modification of the website must additionally take into consideration the stated purpose of the new website with a focus on the targeted audience/market in the new locale. Website localization aims to customize a website so that it seems “natural”, to its viewers despite cultural differences between the creators and the audience. Two factors are involved—programming expertise and cultural knowledge.
Website localization is the complex process of adapting a website into other languages while maintaining all original site functionality and structure. The content itself and often the design and layout is adapted to reflect the target languages’ linguistic requirements as well the cultural preferences of the intended audience.
5 Tips for Website Localization
- Local market research
An important step is identifying the specific locale where your potential customers are located. Then, market research must be conducted in that locale to confirm your business opportunities and the need for a localized website are valid. Consumer habits may vary widely within regions that have shared languages. Thus, local market research is essential.
- Local Glossary Development
Glossaries are developed to ensure accuracy and consistency in the translation or localization process. You will want your translation team to not only leverage the latest industry-specific dictionaries, but to also ensure that the glossary is locale-specific as well.
- Graphics and UI Localization
If possible, use a highly flexible or “fluid” design that allows pages to scale based on dynamic content. If we take an English word as a base, the same word in Russian could be up to 60% longer, while in many Asian languages, the same word could be less than a half the source language width. Based on the complexity of Asian languages, you may need to scale fonts by about a 120% so they are legible. So, as a rule of thumb, you should avoid using fixed-sized containers with text in them. Space should be allowed to expand or contract in accordance with the text character count.
A related issue is that icons, containers and website layout should be culturally acceptable to the intended customer locale. Find more information on this topic in our previous blog, Culturally Customized Website Translation.
- Test your website locally
A competent language translation services agency will test your website in the actual locale for which your website is intended. It is critical to ensure that your website design, as well as localization, suits the preferences and sensibilities of your primary global audience.
- Local Social Media Optimization (SMO)
The last step we recommend is to optimize your website with the local social media. You will always need to add the social media share buttons that are commonly used in your intended local market in order to guarantee traffic from the local social networks. Some countries have specific social networks like China, Japan, and it’s highly important to make your localized website optimized for those networks to help users to spread your message, content and offers via their profiles and online activities.