Going global online often seems quite overwhelming. Developing your digital home is a long process in the first place, so having to adapt its elements to suit multiple target audiences in various markets around the world can seem daunting.
But this is where website localisation comes into play. In its basics, website localisation is an adaptation process, which allows your website to speak different languages on a native level.
But what is website localisation?
Website localisation helps adapt not only the linguistic, but also the non-linguistic elements of your website to each target market with its cultural specificities and social quirks.
It takes care of date formats for example. Those vary from place to place and may be crucial to making sure your customer understands your content correctly. Other non-linguistic elements involved may be names, numbers, text expansion and contraction and even font choices depending on the language system of the specific target market.
In its essence, website localisation is a type of adaptation which takes a more rounded approach to translation and culturalisation.
Before you embark on the journey that is website localisation…
… There are a few things to consider.
- Cultural make up: Going global means going back to school when it comes to cultural differences and peculiarities. Each target audience is socially and culturally specific – from age ratio to preferences about the colour red. Knowing these and catering to them as much as possible gives you a better chance at winning local hearts. Skipping initial social and cultural research could lead to expensive and embarrassing failures – from slogan fails to insensitive and insulting campaigns.
- Online consumer behaviour: We all exhibit some very specific behavioural traits when surfing the net. Research has shown that even though there are quite a few uniform habits we all have online, some differences occur when we cross borders. Not taking these into consideration may cause you to miss out on potential clients or even drive customers away. Your potential clients in China, for example, will not be using Google to look for your products or services.
- Multimedia content: When it comes to visuals, it is important to make sure those are adapted to local preferences as well – from language to story line, even to the faces on banners, images and videos. This loops back into the point about cultural make up.
Once you have decided to localise your website…
When going on the website localisation journey, you want to make sure you go prepared – you need to check you have the essentials before going out the door and into the wild.
- Choosing the right partner: When embarking on the website localisation journey, it is important to choose the right guide. Your language service provider needs to be well versed in the specificities of your target markets.
- Multilingual SEO: Localisation means going a step further when it comes to SEO. The right website localisation service provider can help you develop a more holistic SEO strategy for all international versions.
- Don’t forget the visuals: As website localisation includes all things website – from text and menus to graphics and video – making sure you choose the right localisation design and production experts will save you time and money. As those non-linguistic elements you read about earlier may vary hugely from one locale to the other, the right experts in CMS (content management systems), Photoshop and Illustrator (for graphics), After Effects and Final Cut Pro X (for video), and more besides, will be able to help you reduce the strain on your web design and help you avoid visual and UX (user experience) disasters.
Even though it might seem like a daunting process, website localisation is one of the key steps you need to take in order to bring your name, your product and your service to global audiences. There are benefits to localising instead of simply translating the text on your website, one of the main ones being your target audiences feeling comfortable and welcome in your digital home, no matter where in the world, and them quickly turning into clients.
If you think it is time to take this step and localise your website, please get in touch with our dedicated team of website localisation professionals.