Website localization is one way to promote your company to a worldwide audience in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Websites available in only one language can address at most 30% of the world’s population, making website localization a hot commodity for many businesses. Contrary to popular belief, website localization doesn’t just mean translating the source language into a different language. It also means that anything on an existing website (copy, banners, graphics, navigation items, displayed product content, multimedia components) will be culturally adapted to a target audience.
To be culturally aware, you need to understand your target markets and subsequently develop separate marketing strategies for each. Follow these guidelines to ensure you are on the right track with website localization.
Design in website localization
Geolocation identifies the geographic location of a users device to adapt a website to that specific location. This can be beneficial to your organization since you can target customers and market products exclusively based on location. Use geolocation to get insights on your customers and to provide a customer-centric experience.
Graphics should be appropriate and have some relevance for your target market. This means that you should be aware of how local culture is depicted in your target market. A photo of a woman in shorts may not upset your American website visitors, but the same photo could be considered offensive on the localized Arabic version of your website.
If you live in certain parts in the US, then you may consider the color yellow as a cheerful and delightful color. That yellow that an American may consider to be a happy color is more of an auspicious color in Indian culture.
In western cultures, white symbolizes purity and is often the color used for weddings. In China, women normally wear red for wedding celebrations. Therefore, if you are localizing your wedding ecommerce site into Chinese, then you may want to consider adding red wedding dress images to the home page.
Paper size should be considered beforehand if any of the sections or documents are designed to be printed. For example, if you have a company brochure that is available in multiple languages on the multilingual sites, you may want to adjust the catalog page size which would make it easier for a user to print in other countries. The A series paper sizes are commonly used worldwide, with the exception of North America and parts of Mexico and South America. The most common paper size in the series is A4 (8.3 x 11.7).
Content in website localization
While some regions have similar writing styles, it is best to start by researching which tone will best represent your brand in your target country. For example, Chinese languages use an indirect writing style whereas English tends to be more direct.
It is natural for writers to use synonyms in their writing to avoid word repetition; however, when it comes to website localization, synonyms are not recommended. It is best to reuse the same vocabulary to ensure that the translator expresses the same meaning. For example, if you use the word ‘happy’ on your web page and then later on use ‘lively,’ a translator may confuse lively for ‘active’ instead.
Research the region of your target market to find out the most appropriate way to write the date and time. In the United States, it is more common to write a date with the month first; however, almost all other countries write the date with the day first. Additionally, most countries outside of the United States use military time in everyday conversation.
Some countries write their address with the zip code before the state. Some locations will put the street number after the street name. It could be useful to look up commonly used abbreviations (state, territory, streets, roads, etc.).
There are many differences between cultures and each location has certain things that are culturally significant to its society. Website localization is directly linked to the success of your company. Website localization gives you the opportunity show your target audience that you understand them and helps build meaningful connections. See a compiled list of answered website localization questions for additional reference.
Source: Internet World Stats