A window to the world – why is localization of websites necessary?

A translated and fully localized website increases the company’s sales potential. Research carried out by Common Sense Advisory clearly shows that 56% of customers spend more time browsing websites on which they can read descriptions of products and services presented in their mother tongue. If you do not find this data convincing, check yourselves what other benefits you can get from localization of websites.

Translate or localize?

Translation of the website is one of the first marketing steps to be taken by a company that aspires to be recognized not only on the domestic market. However, even flawless translation will not be successful without localization, thus website translation should always be adapted to the local conditions. If you want to reach potential customers you have to make your website friendly to them. To put it differently, localization involves adaptation of contents to specific cultural constraints. As regards www sites, this process involves not only the contents, but also the accompanying graphics, source codes, URLs and keywords which enable website positioning.

This is very important, as the website tells a lot about the company. It is often the website that makes the customer contact the company or purchase its product or service. Localization of the website should thus be a key element of a marketing campaign.

Complicated? Definitely so.

Let’s face the truth – localization of websites is one of the most complicated and difficult translation tasks. It must be done by specialists who know not only the language and culture of a given country, but are also knowledgeable about website creation, positioning and updating. The translator must also know the characteristics of the industry in which the company operates. Specialist texts can thus be rendered only by translators with relevant qualifications.

Which elements of a website need to be localized?

First of all: the contents. Every translator should always localize the text being rendered by them. This process can cover characteristic expressions, conversion of units of measurement or the date format.

Second of all: the layout and graphics. It should be noticed that not all languages use the Latin alphabet. In spite of preserving the font size, sentences written in a different alphabet may take more or less space on the website. The direction of writing and reading text in different languages also needs to be taken into account. In some languages text is written from the right to the left, while in others – from top to bottom. These elements have a direct impact on the layout of the website and distribution of text and graphics.

What is more, graphics need to be localized as well. Sometimes it is necessary to change the colors or symbols used in them.

Third of all: source codes, URLs and keywords. These elements are the key to the proper operation of the website in the international environment of Internet browsers, via which an enormous number of customers find out that a given company exists. An effective translation policy should thus also include issues relating to website optimization in terms of Internet browsers.

Although the website localization process is complicated and may seem expensive, it is absolutely necessary while entering a new market. Localization of the website will improve its positioning, and the website will attract more customers and make them more willing to buy products or services.

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