10 Best Practices for Website Localization
Website localization is the process of adapting a website to the language and culture of its users. Users are more likely to make purchases from websites that communicate in their native language. In fact, 65% of consumers prefer information in their native language, and they prefer this even if it is not of the highest quality.
But, developing a multilingual website has to do more with translating content directly. Where it is necessary to consider a variety of factors. These include: cultural differences, legal requirements, buying habits, and payment methods. It can be said that the process of website localization is complex and involves several steps.
If you want to know the most effective way to localize a website, follow these ten best practices. These steps will help you to avoid common mistakes and l speed up the launching of your multilingual website. They also offer an excellent user experience for international users.
Now let’s discover the secrets to successful website localization. We’ll explore the 10 best practices outlined in this article.
1. Crafting a Strategic Localization Plan
When developing or updating a website, integrating localization considerations from the outset can save both time and money.
Embracing a global mindset is essential. Even a product tailored for a local market has the potential to achieve global success. A well-thought-out localization strategy provides clarity, an expansion roadmap, and a competitive edge.
Considerations for Your Localization Strategy
- Product or Service Adaptability: Assess if your offering can transcend cultural and market differences.
- Company’s Localization Vision: Envision the expansion scenario and set clear goals.
- Pricing Model: Determine if adjustments are needed for various regions.
- Target Markets: Identify suitable languages, cultures, and demographics aligning with your product.
- Localization Timeline: Define the ideal timeline for expansion.
- Localization Budget: Divide resources for translation, layout changes, and other adjustments.
- Team and Technology: Check in-house capabilities and choose tools aligning with your goals.
2. In-Depth Market Research
A global website serves as a potent tool for customer acquisition worldwide. Tailoring your strategy to specific target markets is vital. Focus on regions where your core customer base resides. Conduct meticulous research to understand unique preferences and demands.
Key Market Research Questions
- Product Interest: Is there a demand for your product in the target market?
- Market Growth Rate: Assess the market’s growth potential.
- Competition Analysis: Understand the competitive landscape.
- Affordability: Determine if local buyers can afford your products.
- Buying Preferences: Identify how consumers prefer to make purchases.
- Logistical Costs: Test transportation and customer support expenses.
- Localization Cost vs. Market Potential: Weigh the cost of localization against market potential.
3. Building a Specialized Localization Team
Website localization involves various stakeholders, requiring a dedicated team for seamless execution. A well-organized team ensures project completion on time and at a high standard. They address the challenges posed by cultural and linguistic differences.
Key Team Roles
- Localization/Translation Manager: Assigns tasks and ensures project progress.
- Developers: Support internationalization efforts from a technical perspective.
- Designers: Adjust visuals to suit diverse audiences.
- Native Translators: Translate content accurately and naturally.
- QA Engineers: Check post-localization functionality for bugs or glitches.
- Local Support Teams: Manage customer inquiries, online reviews, and other service-related issues.
4. Multilingual Keyword Research
Before commencing localization work, conduct thorough keyword research for the localized website. This ensures your content aligns with the search terms used by your target audience. It enhances visibility and search engine rankings.
Multilingual Keyword Research Considerations
- Understanding Local Language Usage: Avoid literal translations; adapt keywords to how locals search.
- Utilizing SEO Experts: Engage translators with SEO expertise or use marketing professionals fluent in the target language.
5. Streamlining Localization with Technology
Doing website localization manually takes a lot of time and can lead to mistakes. Using technology like Translation Management Systems (TMS), Machine Translation (MT), Linguistic QA tools, and Terminology Management tools makes the process much faster and more efficient.
Main Localization Technology Types
- Translation Management Systems (TMS): Centralize translations, automate tasks, and integrate with CMS or CRM systems.
- CAT Tools: Facilitate efficient translation by storing and reusing before translated content.
- Machine Translation (MT): Automatically translates content, improving over time.
- Linguistic QA Tools: Identify errors before content goes live.
- Terminology Management Tools: Maintain consistency with approved brand terms.
6. Choosing the Right Translation Management System (TMS)
Choosing the right Translation Management System is crucial. It ensures that a website localization project is efficient and cost-effective. When looking for a translation tool, check for API support, collaboration tools, in-context translation, translation memory, glossaries, automatic quality checks, and integration capabilities.
Key TMS Features
- API Support: Enables automation for various localization tasks.
- Collaboration Functions: Facilitates effective communication among team members.
- In-Context Translation: Allows translators to work directly on the page.
- Translation Memory: Speeds up projects and maintains consistency.
- Glossaries or Term Bases: Guides localization work and ensures terminology consistency.
- Automatic Quality Checks: Identifies potential issues before content goes live.
- Integration with Other Software: Connect with CMS, project management solutions, etc.
7. Website Internationalization
Internationalization ensures your website is ready for localization. It allows translating content without technical hurdles. Key practices include encoding content in Unicode (UTF-8) and designing for easy translation. Additionally, it supports unique features in other countries. Incorporate predefined localization data and features.
Best Practices for Website Internationalization
- Unicode Encoding: Support special characters across all languages.
- Design for Easy Translation: Remove barriers to localization in the code.
- Support Unique Features: Incorporate features for different regions.
- Predefined Localization Data: Include date, time, number formats, and currency symbols.
- Dynamic Image Loading: Load images to avoid separate assets for each local version.
8. Localizing UX and UI
A seamless user experience (UX) influences customer satisfaction, conversion rates, and sales. Localization efforts must extend to the User Interface (UI). Design elements must accommodate diverse languages and cultural nuances.
Considerations for UX and UI Localization
- Design Adaptations: Rearrange elements for cultural sensitivity and preferences.
- Color Scheme Selection: Choose colors to avoid unintended cultural associations.
- Image Representation: Replace images to align with the target culture.
- UI Redesign: Consider revamping UI for specific markets.
- Performance Optimization: Adjust UI for varying internet speeds and device capabilities.
9. Rigorous Testing Before Launch
Thorough testing is imperative before launching the localized website. Functional and linguistic testing ensures a flawless user experience. It covers encryption algorithms, hardware compatibility, linguistic accuracy, and cultural appropriateness.
Testing Focus Areas
- Functional Testing: Assess encryption, hardware compatibility, form functionality, etc.
- Linguistic Testing: Check for spelling, grammar errors, cultural appropriateness, and keyword usage.
- Expert Native Speakers: Involve native speakers in linguistic testing.
10. Marketing Your Localized Website
Marketing localization is crucial once your website is live. Tailor marketing efforts to align with cultural norms, consumer behavior, and purchasing habits in each target market.
Considerations for Marketing Localization
- Channel Popularity: Adapt marketing channels to regional preferences.
- Content Marketing Alignment: Ensure content resonates with local cultures.
- Adapted Calls to Action: Tailor CTAs to suit local language and cultural nuances.
- Keyword Adaptation: Adjust paid search keywords for regional variations.
- Understanding Cultural Differences: Craft a marketing strategy mindful of cultural nuances.
Website localization requires a great deal of attention to detail. Where should be emphasized that translation is the most important. However, you must also tailor your content to the needs of users in specific regions. Consider all these factors, as well as others, when developing your local marketing strategy. You might want to increase app downloads, website traffic, or dwell time rates. The key is to create a local customer experience that resonates with your target audience.
When done correctly, website translation and localization can help you expand your business. They can also optimize your website, raise brand awareness, and increase sales.