Many people overestimate the benefits of providing quick translations of their website into other languages, assuming that getting the words on the page translated will create a value-add for the company. In reality, localization of a website is the combination of translating as well as making design, menu, and content shifts that will work best in the context of the new language market. Some technically “correct” translation of a menu sidebar, for instance, would not accurately convey the same meaning in another language. There should also be extensive proofreading and editing to create the combination TEP (translation, editing, and proofreading), which increases the subtlety and accuracy of the translation.
Steps to Localizing Accurately
- The core need, before excellent business website localization, is a high-quality website in the original language. If your English-language website is hard to navigate and confusing for people who speak English fluently, translating and localizing that product is a flawed goal from the beginning. Make your original website incredibly user-friendly first and do usability testing to ensure you are on the right track.
- Work to discover what the distinct needs are in the market you are targeting for your translation: will your product or service be viewed differently? Should a different marketing or sales angle be considered before moving into this market? Localization often ends up meaning creating almost an entirely distinct website, not just word-for-word translation. The translated website should consider the culture into which you are moving, rather than assuming all sales environments are the same but simply working in different languages.
- Ensure that you aren’t localizing piecemeal, such as having English language website features like drop-down menus alongside some content in the target language. Excellent localization takes into account everything in the website that needs to be attuned to the local culture and style of website design.
- Culturally relevant photographs, videos, and other multimedia content matter in localization efforts. Overtly Western or United States photographs won’t go very far to sell your product or service in other countries where they will not feel hailed and addressed by the images you’ve chosen.
- Take your newly-localized website to actual individuals in your target demographics and have them navigate it and provide feedback; their critiques should further refine your translation and localization efforts.
Benefits of Localizing
- Reaching new markets in a globalized economy requires meeting the customer where he or she is. This means assuming that your next major market may be fluent in a different language and not predisposed to trust a company from another country. Make your website so inviting and embedded in the culture that you start winning people over from the beginning.
- Don’t assume people will buy from websites in English just because they know English; while many people around the world speak English as a second or foreign language, they still gravitate toward companies and businesses situated in their own cultural context with websites that address them in their native, most comfortable language.
- High-quality localized websites add credibility; by contrast, offering only a slapdash, incomplete, or culturally irrelevant translation (such as those available automatically through online automatic translator algorithms) may actually worsen your credibility more than just having a single, well-constructed website in English. If you invest in translation at all, invest in localization.
Work with ISI for Excellent Localization and Translation
ISI’s excellent teams of linguists can help your business grow beyond its current markets by creating high-quality translations that encompass your entire website. We can offer insight into what will tend to land well with customers in a different culture and what isn’t likely to do so. Reach out to us today to get started on website localization for business growth.