What does a localization specialist do? What is the concept of localization? If these questions are on your mind, then this article is for you. We’ll take a look at what website localization is, why it’s so key to source a suitable translation services and what the benefits are.
We’ll also look at why careful localization is particularly important as the impact of the new coronavirus is felt around the world.
What are localization services?
Localization services take your documents, videos, software, and other items and adapt them to the cultural expectations of particular target audiences. Website localization services cover the localization of every aspect of your website, from the copy to the images.
The difference between translation and localization is that translation tends to deal with language alone. Localization services differ as they deal with everything that’s needed to ensure a website suits a particular audience. That could include graphic design and layout, for example by allowing space for bi-directional text, as well as amending pictograms and infographics, addressing cultural, political and religious references and even improving local SEO.
Why is localization important?
Localization is important for businesses that are looking to connect with customers around the world through their website. Professional localization services can make the difference between a company that fails to connect and one that succeeds.
An effective localization strategy means that customers will feel like a website’s content has been written with them in mind. Localization experts can ensure that a site doesn’t come across as a translation but as a carefully crafted creation that was designed from the outset to suit the reader, no matter where they may be.
In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, the way that companies connect and engage with customers has become particularly important. Many businesses are having to close their physical premises or cope with a significant drop in customers as the crisis worsens. As such, their online presence has very suddenly taken on a vastly increased importance.
Interestingly, coronavirus (and other viruses before it) provide us with an example of localization in practice. The World Health Organization is providing regular updates that are as internationalized as possible. Each country then takes those updates and applies them to its own situation, delivering the news as part of a localized package.
How do you do localization?
If you’re looking to develop your website localization strategy, the first thing you will need is a decent translation agency that specializes in localization, as well as providing its core translation service. What is the localization strategy? It’s the chance for you to lay out what you’re hoping to achieve, how you’re going to do it and which localization methods you will be using. Your translation company can help with all of this, so lean on their expertise.
In addition to the translation process dealing with the language of the site (and this is the point in the process where translation and localization differ), your chosen agency will consider your website’s:
- Cultural, political and religious references
- Graphic design and layout
- Imagery, including infographics, pictograms, and icons
- Units of measurement
- Time and date formats
- Address and phone number formats
- Naming conventions
- Colors and any symbols
- Keyboard usage
- Unicode use
- Any legal or compliance requirements
As you can see, website localization is neither a quick nor a simple task! A proactive localization expert can even help you to consider current marketing trends in your target location in order to maximise your chance of success there.
Website translation and localization in action
Let’s consider an example. Say you sell toys online in Spain and want to branch out to selling them in English-speaking countries. Such a move would give you access to some 379 million additional potential customers and ensure that you covered two of the world’s three most spoken languages.
Of course, if your serious about accessing a larger slice of the global toy market, which was worth US$90.4 billion in 2018, your Spanish translator will need to do far more than simply translate Spanish to English. They will need to work through all of the above-listed localization elements, delivering them alongside the Spanish to English translation of the site’s content.
While localization is, of necessity, a detailed process, it’s one that is well worth it. Careful localization can help a business to reach new audiences and generate additional sales. Given the impact that coronavirus is already having on some of the building blocks of capitalism, this is a process that many businesses would do well to embrace over the coming months. Our world is changing around us in fundamental ways and many companies will fall by the wayside. Be sure that you do all you can to help your business survive and thrive when normality returns!