Things to consider when localizing a website
The Internet is a marketplace for self-promotion and attracting potential customers; therefore, a well-translated and localized website is crucial to create the feeling of proximity and instill confidence in the target audience.
Localization is a technological, textual, communicative and cognitive process of adapting interactive digital texts for use in a different cultural and linguistic context to the original. In other words, “localization” means tailoring a product to a specific local market so that the product has a local look and feel and gives the impression that it has been created for the target audience. This process began with the first attempts at software translation in the 1980s. However, the true explosion of the localization industry came at end of the 1990s thanks to the digital revolution and, today, it has become a consolidated sector.
Although hiring an expert to adapt a website may seem initially an unnecessary economic expense, in the long term, the advantages far outweigh the initial costs, by opening up new markets, leading to an increase in sales and a reduction in the time spent on updating information, among other things. This demonstrates that a high-quality website translation is vital for companies to reach more markets and therefore increase their profits.
Things to consider when localizing websites
When it comes to localizing a website it is important to analyse different aspects and to clearly understand the elements involved.
- First of all, an analysis of the target market and the original website should be carried out. To ensure the company’s positioning strategy is correctly focused in that market, we first need to know into which languages the website will be localized and which countries the company wants to target.
- Once the target country has been defined, we then need to understand the cultural, social and/or religious factors that could affect the published content and its presentation; the laws of the country, the data protection and copyright legislation, the requirements for registering domain names, the bandwidth, etc. Once this information has been obtained, the next step is to find out who the potential users of the website are and what they are looking for.
- As for the company and its sector, we need know what users expect to obtain from the localized site and who the competition is in the market.
When displaying a website for a different locale (target audience) to the one it was originally intended for, simply translating it is not sufficient; the images, communication material and style of the website must also be adapted to each country or market. There are several elements to consider in the localization of the website:
- The content, key in every website, is the main element in localization. It should be useful, clear and accessible, appropriate in the context of the locale and designed to be easily understood by users. Localized websites should have the same quantity and quality of content as the original. To ensure this is the case, we must analyse the amount of content, the frequency with which it is updated and its relevance, as well as any shortcomings that can be improved. If the content and language used meets the expectations of users in relation to their beliefs and values, it will be easier to convince potential customers.
- The user interface is also essential. This area include components such as colours, sizes, layout, symbols, cognitive-perceptual styles and differences in the processing of visual input, among other aspects. It may also include features related to cultural dimensions such as newsletters, customer service, guided browsing, security and testimonials about the company, terms and conditions, the vision of the company, etc.
- Legal requirements must also be taken into account, as all countries have their own laws regarding privacy, complaints, customer service, data protection, etc. and therefore we must ensure that the content is in line with local legislation.
- Finally, there are several cultural aspects that must not be forgotten when localizing a website, such as the date and time format, currency, number format (decimal and thousands separators), addresses, postcodes, provinces, names, telephone numbers, units of measurement, paper size if any of the pages are printed, icon conventions, etc.
In summary, when it comes to localizing a website, there are several factors that must be taken into account so that the website works correctly for its target audience, both the original and the localized version. Here at NAKOM we therefore ask that you trust in the recommendations and work of qualified experts for the successful localization of your website.