Advices on Effective Website Localization

by Ricardo, Thursday, July 7th, 2011 at 11:39 pm

(eCommerce, Global Marketing, Website)

Why Website Localization?

  • Not Only English in this world!  We can find from various sources that most of all internet users are non-native English speakers. and


Global Internet usage (Wiki)

The source of the figures in the table below is Internet World Stats. These are estimates of the world online population by language for 2010.

PositionLanguageInternet users % of all
2Chinese (Mandarin)444,948,01322.6
  • Most internet users will naturally feel more comfortable and understand a company better if their information, products or services are presented in their native language. Your site visitors will stay much longer (site stickiness) if the website is in their own language. By undergoing the website localization process you access potentially millions of new customers.
  • Localization of your website demonstrates that you are a truly international player. In addition, through localization it shows that you understand, value and have respect for that particular country or region.
 As companies look to expand into new markets, reach a global audience and increase international sales, the benefits of website localization are clear.


Website Localization is a multi-layered process

‘Localization’ relates to the act of modifying a product to make it both usable and suitable to a target market.

Website localization or website translation is the process of modifying an existing website to make it accessible, usable and culturally suitable to a target audience.

Website localization is a multi-layered process needing both programming expertise and linguistic/cultural knowledge. If either is missing, the chances are that a localization project will encounter problems.

Website localization targets international audiences, in their native language and provides products and services that are localized to their domicile location.


Common Website Localization Problems

Companies are now waking up to the fact that English is no longer the only language customer should accept in the internet, their competitors are building pages in French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and more.

Though many companies now realize the benefits of website localization and take actions, Many of them are not done so well.

  • Low-quality Translation: Some companies do not understand the importance of the translation quality, jobs were outsourced to unqualified translators or companies, some even use machine translation. it’s not joking!
  • Target-Audience Adaptation: Direct translation without considering the culture in the local market.

Cost-Saving≠Low Quality Translation

Poor website localization will destroy your online credibility, esp. in those new markets who speaks the languages you are not familiar with.

How could a customer rely on you if you do not respect their culture?

in many cases,  it is the lack of linguistic and cultural input that lets a website localization project down.


Steps of  Website Localization

Plan your project and take the right steps!

1.Website Localization Analysis

  • Requirements specification
  • project engineering analysis
  • client specific process definition
  • and scheduling

will let you know how much and how long to complete the scope of work.

2. Translation of Website Content

Ensures the website is translated in a linguistically and culturally appropriate way.

  • Consider Vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, style to make sure the language used reflects the target audience’s culture and society.
  • Take into consideration of Phrases, metaphors and sayings

3. Localizing Layout and Site Navigation

  • Translation often affects layout and may require more or less room depending on the target country.
  • Right to left, top to bottom and which pages should be available are important considerations when localizing the website.

4. Adapting Pictures to the Audience

  • Cultural messages both subtle and not so subtle can be contained within pictures.
  • Your company or product can unknowingly portray negative connotations that may irritate or even offend viewers.
  • Images need to be carefully reviewed and perhaps adjusted to positively reflect upon your company and messaging.

5. Localizing Symbols

Like pictures, Symbols can cause problems in localization too.

  • Western symbols can mean different things to an international audience.
  • Fingers, houses and animals often need to be modified when marketing abroad.
  • Obvious items like time and date display, measurement units, currency, numbering systems and fonts are identified and formatted correctly as part of the localization process.

6. Adapting Colors to Cultures

  • Colors, although not as critical, can also have cultural meanings that need to be analyzed in website localization.
  • Proper color choices can improve user acceptance and avoid hidden meanings.
  • Color choice may not always have disastrous consequences, but avoiding subtle unwanted meanings is always advisable.

7. Localization Testing and QA

  • Functional testing by our engineers ensures the localized site works just the same as the English version and that the links function properly.
  • Linguistic testing will check the translation in context and verify there is consistency across the website.

8. Localization Engineering

  • Website technology varies, Find right people to deal with your web applications, databases and formats.
  • Make sure all file types are carefully analyzed, prepared for translation, and engineered with the best possible consideration for time and quality.

9. Analyze and Improve

  • The proper amount of market research, planning and resource mining is required to effectively enter the international market and be successful.
  • Keep tracing the web statistics and feedback from various channels like website, comments, SNS etc.
  • Find problems and improve.


How Much Shall I Pay?

To be frank, Website localization is a huge investment and should not be viewed as a straightforward process.

Website localization is your commitment to invest resources to enter the international market and be highly effective with a designated population.

When localizing your site, ensure you get the expertise of both a website designer and a cross cultural communications consultancy to ensure your site has maximum impact on the target audience.

Make Your Budget, It’s worth your money and energies.

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3 thoughts on “Advices on Effective Website Localization

  1. Pingback: Effective Chinese Website Localization - ChineseTransPro

  2. Pingback: Checklist before you launch your Chinese website | Sinostep

  3. Pingback: Effective Chinese Website Localization - ChineseTrans Blog

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