Transforming websites and applications to serve a global audience is an important growth strategy, especially considering that online purchasing by people in North America has been eclipsed by the spending of people in Asia-Pacific. Preparing your websites and applications for your global audience is a multi-faceted endeavor that involves translation, localization services, and often, website internationalization.
What is Website Internationalization?
Application and website internationalization goes far beyond merely needing to translate website copy. It means designing and developing content, applications, and documentation so that it will work well and be easily adapted for users from any geography, language, region, or culture. It involves ensuring that the core code of assets is flexible enough to accommodate a new audience without a complete re-write. It’s a prerequisite for website localization.
Website Internationalization Considerations
This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a few of the things that must be considered when undertaking website internationalization:
- Different scripts use different characters. Some, like English, have single byte characters, while others require multiple byte character support. The Unicode standard has evolved as a single character encoding to support multiple languages.
- Writing direction varies from language to language. English is left to right, but Arabic and others are right to left. Some Asian languages are read vertically.
- It is important to take into account that keyboard shortcuts can only use the available buttons on the keyboard, which, of course, changes based on the language.
The Development Challenge
To complete website or application internalization developers must typically manually extract all of the textual content in the entire application. This means text, menus, error messages, tooltips, alt tags, images that include text, meta descriptions and more. This is put into a strings file. Because it involves the code, only developers can do it. It’s time consuming, tedious, and error prone. Most developers would much prefer to focus on higher value tasks, but they alone have the necessary skills for this job.
The Smartling Solution
Fortunately, Smartling eliminates the need for website internationalization with our cloud-based Global Delivery Network. We are able to help customers deploy multilingual websites and applications with very little coding required. Smartling facilites human translation by automatically collecting text from your websites and applications and returning a fully internationalized, SEO friendly experience to your visitors. This greatly reduces the cost of global website and application delivery and lets your development team focus on the product road map and other strategic priorities.
Don’t let the prospect of website internationalization keep your company from the growth potential of new global audiences. Contact Smartling to learn more about how we can help ease the transformation of your websites and applications.