Put simply, website localisation is the process of refining website content across culture and language to provide users with the most useful and relevant experience possible. 🙂
Most companies equate “localisation” with “translation“, but true website localisation is a much more defined and complex process than simply displaying words in a new language.
Read on to learn the theoretical basics of website localisation and how to do it effectively and authentically.
The basics of localisation
Website localisation consists of five key elements.
1. Language and regionalisms ensure that the brand content and communication are conveyed accurately and correctly, giving users the impression that the website experience has been personalised for them.
2. Cultural communication elements such as date and time formats, units of measure and local holidays ensure that websites communicate an understanding of global nuances and make users feel at home.
3. Transactional elements such as currency, payment options, addresses and character sets are important not only for the local “feel” of the site, but also for the accuracy and proper handling of transactions and conversions on site.
4. Local communication and trust elements such as phone numbers, local addresses, customer support in the user’s language, legal notices and security banners may not seem mission-critical, but they are the key to engaging the local audience. Plus, they ensure that the sales and marketing team have the information they need to serve your customers.
5. The user interface of the translated site is essential to help users select the language they need and immediately start interacting with your site in an authentic way.
Because microsites just don’t cut it
As you expand your digital presence into international markets, one thing becomes clear: local markets expect a website experience that is just as effective and compelling as your flagship site.
It can be tempting to solve the localisation problem with a simplified microsite that takes essential information about your company, translates it into the local language, and provides a reduced experience for overseas users.
But users regularly abandon websites that don’t provide consistent language experiences or offer compromised experiences in favour of a simplified approach.
Preparing for website localisation
Are you ready to localise your website? To lay a solid foundation, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:
• Am I looking to build a truly multilingual site, so my users know I’m investing in their experience?
• Do I have a team that can support my international digital presence? A highly experienced partner translation agency can make your website localisation process much easier.
• Is my sales department asking for a more complete and robust online experience to reach new customers more easily? If there is indeed a demand, it may be the right time to satisfy it.
• Do we have valuable and compelling content that can accelerate the growth of our global business if we can only get it in front of a foreign audience? If you’ve already invested in a better online experience, it’s safe to assume that you want to maximise the return on that investment.
Be present, be useful
When localising, your site visitors should be able to experience all the elements, concepts, and content they use in their daily life.
This means making sure the content has terminologies, phrases, and slang understandable to the local customers you’re serving. Literal translations can be alienating with the local culture, causing issues with both SEO and brand integrity.
This approach also includes the localisation of multimedia content. Ensuring your images, video content and PDF files are displayed in the correct local language can improve brand credibility and encourage interaction with content.
As always, the devil is in the details—make sure the important content on your site is “consumable” and usable in your customers’ language, from localised payment and currency options to units of measure, address formats and contact information. If there are any critical issues on this front, it’s clear as day that the potential customer will leave your site.
Think beyond the website
Localising the website in the best possible way means thinking beyond the site itself; it means focusing on all the digital resources, contents and channels that make up your international digital presence.
First of all, consider how foreign users will learn about your site. Make sure the national search engines know about your site and that it is correctly localised: this will ensure it’s easy to find in search results. Working with a localisation partner who is familiar with multilingual SEO provides a huge advantage, because it thinks with localised keywords and uses advanced technologies such as hreflang. This ensures that the translated version of your website is displayed correctly in the results of your customers’ local search engines.
The most advanced providers can offer valuable assistance, such as the use of technology linked to user preferences. One example of this is dynamic IP detection to automatically serve the correct language.
Also make sure that your SEM content, such as email campaigns, social media posts and offline resources (marketing material, for example) are translated and localised correctly. Work with a team of localisation and international marketing professionals able to guarantee that your digital presence is effectively communicated in foreign markets.
Website localisation is an investment in your global business
To correctly localise a website requires experienced native translators, powerful technology that can process dimensionally large content with efficient workflows and automated management capabilities, in order to publish and update customised content.
Your global business deserves the best possible digital presence. Work with a partner who can smartly do both translation and website localisation work to ensure clear, effective, and recognisable content for every market you do business in.