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Website globalization and localization – what are they?

Website translation is a must whenever you are considering expanding your business into international markets. However, it may turn out that a literal translation is definitely not enough. Especially when your company website features slogans, marketing messages or a specialized blog. If you want to be certain that you are portrayed as a professional, the website needs to look professional as well. Website localization is the solution you should be looking at here. What is it?

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What is translation localization?

We’ll start with the basic aspect and tell you what translation localization is. From a purely definitional point of view, this is nothing more than adapting text to the culture and language of the destination country, where it will be used. The key point is to make the translation look as if the text was written by a resident of a given country, as opposed to text written in a different language and then translated.

What does localization include?

Let us take an example: a short case study of introducing the new Mitsubishi model to the Spanish-speaking market. Initially, Pajero operated under a worldwide name, but sales results were zero. All because ‘pajero’ in Spanish means ‘a man who is continuously seducing himself’. When the owners of the Mitsubishi corporation learned about this obvious faux pas, they changed their car name to Montero, meaning ‘hunter’. Since then, the sales of this model have started, among others in Spain and in the countries of South America.

This example shows how localization can play a huge role in achieving business success. Even though the owners of Mitsubishi wanted to refer to a small predator from the cat family, namely Leopardus Pajeros, when giving their model the name ‘Pajero’, the appropriate reaction time to changing it allowed to avoid quite a big image-related crisis. However, if the translation was localized initially, this slip-up could have been avoided.

Why is website localization important?

Similar nuances should be kept in mind when localizing a website. In most cases, it is a marketing tool that must fulfil a specific role. First of all, it is a kind of presentation of an offer, which is to persuade users to choose it. This is why website localization is so important.

What to keep in mind when deciding to localize a website?

Based on pure definitions, localization in relation to a physical product (e.g. shoes or a watch) includes adjusting the packaging, colours, as well as such obvious elements as the date and time format. Similar aspects should be kept in mind when localizing a website. Following the above guidelines, a good website localization includes, among others:

  • adjusting the website structure and layout;
  • changing the colour scheme to keep the psychology of colours in line with their perception of foreign audiences;
  • matching slogans and advertising messages so that they convey the same meaning as in the source language;
  • choosing vocabulary that is commonly used in the destination country;
  • changing the form of writing addresses according to the rules of the destination country;
  • changing the date and time format; adaptation of the text visible on buttons, such as Call to Action, in accordance with the adopted standards.

All these changes are intended to capture local sensitivity, avoid conflicts with local culture, customs and enter the local market through understanding its needs. For this reason, a good localization of a website of even the same company includes several language versions, which are adapted to the needs of each local market.

What does the website localization process look like?

As compared to standard translation, website localization requires a number of steps. First of all, you should define what emotions or impressions such a website should evoke in local users. After identifying the assumptions and goals, analyse the communication assumptions of your competition. This is done to see what messages are used on other companies’ websites. Such a procedure will allow you to create commonly accepted messages, which will have a positive impact on navigation intuition.

The actual localization process of a website can only be started after the analytical part is completed. It is worth noting that this part will take significantly less time if a native speaker with marketing skills participates in it. The time from concept to implementation of a website localization will be significantly reduced and, above all, more effective.

Localization versus globalization

When localizing a website, it is also worth mentioning its globalization. While localization involves adapting a website to the needs of the local market, globalization intends to make it global. In practice, this means getting rid of any elements that evoke specific emotions and therefore may be controversial or unpleasant in a specific country.

Such activities save a lot of time and money that are spent on localization projects. Globalization is particularly advisable in relation to international corporations that operate simultaneously in several countries. For such an organization, the website usually plays an image-building role, so adjusting it to the needs of several local markets is not financially justified. Especially at the very beginning of work related to creating a website.

Website localization – do you need it?

As a business owner, at some point you will start considering expansion into foreign markets. Achieving success in this area requires many actions on your part. One of them is website localization. It will contribute to how you are perceived by foreign customers. If you manage to gain their trust, you will achieve better sales results. If not, your entire expansion project will not be successful. For this reason, you should really consider localizing your business website. Ultimately, your website is your business card. The more professional it looks, the more it will contribute to the image you want to present.

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