If you want your site or business to operate globally, website localization is essential.
Your website often makes the first impression on potential clients/customers. Hence, website localization is crucial for any globally-operating business.
With regard to the internet, few things are more off-putting than a website with choppy translations and an unnatural feeling. Research has shown that about 75% of consumers will judge a company’s credibility based on its website. But websites don’t independently make miraculous transformations to suit different languages and cultures. (1)
Website localization is a process designed for solving this problem. This article will cover website localization and all of the basic considerations involved.
What is website localization?
It’s important that you understand the concept itself before getting to the basics. In essence, website localization is the process of adapting a website to a version that fits the language and culture of a particular target audience. This might sound like a mouthful, but you’ll soon have a better grasp.
The goal of website localization is to ensure that users in various countries all share the same experience on your website. For example, suppose your business is based in the USA. The website would be designed with an American audience in mind and would be in US English. If your business also operates in a country like Japan, certain changes will be needed to adapt your site to a Japanese audience.
In other words, you’re adapting your website to suit your target audiences’ language and expectations. A well-localized website should provide a similar experience for all international web traffic.
Basics of web localization
Website localization is more than just how you translate a website, although this is still important. Here’s a breakdown of the six basic considerations that should be included in every localization project:
- Identify your target audience
The first part of website localization is to identify your target audience. The process can become increasingly costly as you adapt your website to more markets. If you’re limited by a budget, consider starting by targeting the markets that’ll give you the highest conversion rate.
Understanding your audience is an essential step that should be taken before any localization project. It’s best to research a particular country to determine how your business fits into its market, which languages are predominant, specific regions your users are likely to be from, and any other considerations particular to this audience that might influence your process.
- Translating the language
Translating the language of your existing website is one of the bigger tasks involved in localization. Poor translations can be detrimental to the user experience. When people read something in their native language, they expect it to read as if it was written by someone who speaks that language. Thus, fluent language translation is vital, considering that more than half of consumers (55%) prefer to shop and browse in their native tongue. This means translating all parts of your web page will likely require professional assistance. (2)
- Ensure transactions and currencies are appropriate
Remember that the end goal is to create a version of your website that’ll make users in another country feel at home. Global brands and businesses often fall short when it comes down to localizing their transactional elements.
Characters, addresses, currencies, and payment options should all be changed to match all the local transaction standards of the respective country. The chances of gaining new customers are significantly decreased if you skip this step. In fact, studies show that 92.2% of people prefer to purchase in their local currency. (3)
- Cultural considerations
When you’re adapting your business site to suit a target audience in another country, you need to consider that place’s culture and norms. Take units of measurement, for example. Right now, only three countries still officially use the imperial system: Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States of America. A company based in the USA would have to adapt all measurements on their site to the measurement system used in their target country. (4)
Other elements to localize include local holidays, date and time format, images, videos, and infographics. In the end, all elements of your website will be localized. Keep in mind that the goal should be to maintain your brand and voice in a way that appeals to your target audience.
- Site navigation
Site navigation is just as crucial in localization as it is in design. Certain aspects and nuances of a site may be changed to fit web design trends in different countries. However, the most important navigation aspect of website localization is ensuring users can easily switch to their native language. The option should be easy to find and use. Doing this gives users a satisfying way to experience your site in a way that’s natural to them.
- Local communication options
Most websites provide users with a means of contacting the business. Part of operating in a foreign country includes providing localized communication options in the user’s native language.
A local office address (if you have one), phone numbers, email addresses, legal pages, and customer support. All of these and any other communication options must be made to feel natural to users.
Website localization is more than simply translating the language on a web page. The process takes all aspects and elements of your website and adapts everything to suit a target audience in another country. For businesses that operate internationally, this is essential. Without it, your website is less likely to appeal to and attract clients in other countries you may be targeting.
This article covers the basics that need to be considered in any web localization process. Keep these in mind as you transform your website into something that’ll help your business expand across the world.
- “Research Shows Having A Bad Website Can Hurt Your Business (markbrinker.com)”, Source
- “CSA Research – View (csa-research.com)”, Source
- “Ecommerce Statistics for 2022 – Chatbots, Voice, Omni-Channel Marketing (kinsta.com)”, Source
- “Which Countries Use The Imperial System? – WorldAtlas”, Source