Web Localization Techniques for When You’re Already Translating

Most of the time, translating the text of a website’s landing pages isn’t enough for web localization and adapting your site to a new geographic location. A handful of other things need to be taken into consideration.

A properly localized website looks like it’s been developed by locals, increasing its relevance to your target audience. And fortunately, there are some things you can do to make sure your newly translated pages have the localized look and feel you need to relate to your new prospects.

1. Simple Core Content

GALA suggests businesses should “avoid messages that are word-crafted purely for the domestic market, especially using slang and colloquialisms. Writing simple, active-voice sentences works best.”

Simple core content is good at starting the translation process because it’s devoid of cultural quirks and characteristics that don’t translate well into other cultures and world views. But if you’ve already begun translating a particular piece, don’t go back and change the original. You may risk incurring more delays and costs to change your already translated pages than these small adjustments are worth.

2. Internationalize Your Design

An internationalized design means your website, app interface, advertisements, and product packaging all look natural whether the amount of text expands, shrinks, or uses non-western characters.

An internationalized design that looks good across multiple text types and culturally sensitive imagery guarantees successful web localization every time you enter a new market. The only other thing you’d need to consider each time is color, as it carries different connotations for people across different cultural backgrounds.

3. Text and Number Formatting

Which bothers you the most: $83,57 or $83.57?

If you’re reading through a document comparing prices, and it uses a comma instead of a period in the decimal spot, it can stick out like a sore thumb. Of course, a French audience will know what you mean if you use a period instead of the comma they’re used to—but they’ll know you’re probably not a European business and that you’re out of touch with their local variants.

The same principle holds true for dates, hour measurements, address formatting, phone numbers, and units of distance. Each time you translate website content into a new language, make sure you have a live person (perhaps from your desired location) review the formatting of these elements for you.

4. Cultural Preferences

Beyond what you’re taught about formatting sentences and phone numbers, cultural preferences and biases can seep through you involuntarily, negatively affecting the value of your brand in the mind of your target audience.

One of the most basic preferences is how people prefer to be addressed. If you’re filling in a name for an e-mail marketing campaign, should you address the recipient as “Ms. Kate Williams” or just “Kate”? Whichever you choose, make sure it’s consistent with the cultural convention his or her region is most comfortable with.

You’ll also want to recognize the most important holidays in your new region and avoid things that your target audience may be sensitive to. For example, avoiding the use of number 4 in Japan, as the word sounds like death. Bonus points go to those who can include local testimonials from any geographical location to which they’re trying to market.

5. Paper-Based Marketing

If you do any form of offline marketing—or if you offer printables on your website—it’s important to ensure each of your materials matches local paper size standards. For example, you don’t want to create business cards on the UK’s 55mm x 85mm standard for your Japanese employees, who expect to receive prints on their standard 55mm x 91mm.

Website localization includes quality text translations, but also touches on site architecture, UI, culturally appropriate colors and images, and sensitivity to local beliefs. As you continue working with your company’s translation software, take your content to the next level by looking at a final version with a critical eye to your specific audience.

Image source: BigStock

About Chelsea Baldwin

Chelsea Baldwin is a professional business writer and online marketing consultant who specializes in helping business grow their brands and optimize their sales funnels with effective content. She used to hold a corporate position in international marketing, but gave it up to work more closely with companies while traveling the world.