To translate website content, it’s important to understand web localization. Website localization is the process of transforming an existing website to be appropriate for a different geographical market. When done well, the website appears to have been developed locally. It involves much more than just the translation of content. It must also reflect differences in cultural preferences, from image selection to overall design. A successfully localized website feels natural to visitors, is easy to navigate, and respects local culture and customs.
Although text translation is the bulk of the localization effort, it’s by no means the only consideration. The following additional factors must also be considered:
There are a variety of conventions for numerical and other formats that change from place to place. Site usability depends on using correct formats, and errors stick out to locals like a sore thumb.
- Date and Time Formats: In some places, like the U.S., the dates are written in month-day-year format, such as July 4, 1776. In other parts of the world a day-month-year format is preferred. Likewise, 12-hour vs. 24-hour time format preferences should be considered.
- Currency: It’s important to consider currency conversions and formats. This is especially critical for e-commerce applications.
- Address and Phone Number: Address and phone number formats vary across the globe.
- Units of Measure: Weights, sizes, and measures are an important consideration, especially if they’re relevant to product specifications or price.
- Power: Voltage, current standards, and battery sizes are important distinctions for electronics and other products that require power.
Taking culture into account is an important sign of respect and not something to be overlooked.
- Names: Personal title preferences and formats vary.
- Holidays: National holidays are specific to each country and region.
- Color Preferences: Colors have different meanings in different cultures. Taking them into account may help avoid offense and improve the effectiveness of the site.
- Numerical Superstitions: Just like western marketers pay special attention to numbers like “13” and “666,” website localization project managers must consider the numerical superstitions and preferences of the target market.
In addition to making your website feel natural and correct to visitors, you want it to be effective as well. Simple marketing strategy should drive a portion of the localization project.
- Case Studies and Testimonials: Where possible, it’s best to use local case studies and customer testimonials and examples. It may also be necessary to consider industry lists or other use case examples that may vary across the world.
- Images: The relevancy of images should be a priority consideration as images are essential to how users experience websites.
- Paper Sizes: Different areas have different paper size standards, which must be considered if content is designed to be printed.
Text translation is usually the first step in the website localization process. It’s critical that the translation be of high quality and that it be considered in context for the best possible final user experience. Translation management software with context-based translator tools and translation memory gives organizations the best chance of completing text translation on time and on budget. During the translation process, localization services should also be considered to avoid any culturally insensitive content.
Other website localization work typically follows website translation and involves making sure all the other non-text elements are culturally appropriate for the new market. In addition to the elements above, it’s also important to consider the navigation, graphics, audio, and site architecture. Website connection speeds also vary locally, so the size of files and images and their impact on load speed should be considered.
The most important thing to keep in mind during website localization is making sure that users can use and interact with the website in a way that is natural and meaningful to them.
Professional human translation with a three-step review process is the gold standard for text translation. Additional localization may require the assistance of bilingual subject matter experts to deal with the cultural, marketing, legal, and other specialized aspects of the website localization effort. Bilingual employees can be a huge asset, but generally shouldn’t solely be relied upon for either translation or localization.
Internationalization involves designing or modifying a software application so that it can be adapted to support multiple languages and regions. Internationalization can be an extensive, time-consuming development effort, as it requires developers to manually extract the content into a strings file. Fortunately, the Smarting solution makes this unnecessary with its cloud-based Global Delivery Network. It’s the quickest, most cost-effective way to deploy multilingual websites and dynamic Web applications securely and reliably, with minimal or no coding required.
While it’s likely apparent that website localization is a significant effort requiring careful planning and oversight, it’s a critical factor in your effort to attract a new market. Fortunately, translation management system solutions, professional translation resources, and Smartling’s Global Delivery Network are available to help ensure your visitors will have an excellent experience wherever they are.
What Can Smartling Offer?
Smartling essentially breaks down the language barrier. It allows companies to expand their audience to include people from around the globe—even large companies with large audiences and enormous amounts of content.
By eliminating 90 percent of the manual processes associated with translating and content localization, Smartling allows organizations to rapidly grow their audiences and optimize translations regardless of language. The Smartling Global Fluency Platform combines a wide variety of tools into a single interface, eliminating the need to keep track of each different translation manually. Translators are able to directly interact with all translation-centric documents within a cloud-based environment, speeding up the translation process and boosting efficiency of the entire process.
The platform helps to easily push content into a translation workflow and facilitate brand consistency. It collects all changes automatically, speeding the process, and moves them directly into the translation workflow. It also pushes newly translated content live, minimizing the need for IT’s involvement and freeing them up to work on core projects for their companies.
We understand that many organizations have already created their websites, and they need to implement localization without having to completely redo the entire framework. Fortunately, Smartling offers a broad range of integration and API options. Smartling’s Global Delivery Network allows users to integrate their already-existing sites and systems, granting them the flexibility and control they need as they distribute their content worldwide.
Smartling works closely with leading brands to integrate translation seamlessly into all content platforms and workflows.