Translation vs Localization: What's the Difference?

 by anthony on  |
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Broadcasting website content to an international audience is crucial for competing in today’s global online economy. Whether it’s simple translation or full-on localization, a multilingual website is a massive part of reaching your target audience across multiple languages.
Funny, then, that so many companies still don’t grasp the differences between the two. Sure, we understand the concept of translation, but what about localization? And how can localizing your website be more beneficial than a straight-up translation?

Let’s first look at what each one is before we touch on the key differences.
Translation is…
The direct conversion of website content from one language to another. It takes nothing else into account, only the literal change of one word to its closest relative in the chosen language. The goal of translation is to make sure it means the same 
afterward as it did before, but the truth is it often doesn’t.
Localization is…
As we’ve touched on before, localization is a far more in-depth process that takes your translations up the value chain. Localization isn’t just translating your website; it’s tailoring it to the specific needs of each language and target audience. Localization takes things like context,
tone of voice and colloquialisms into account, offering users an immersive and fully local experience on your site.
So, while website translation and localization are similar, they’re far from the same. But what are the main differentiating factors that separate translation from localization?

1. Clarity
As mentioned above, translation doesn’t take certain things into account that localization does. Things like tone of voice, 
context and idiomatic language all impact on the clarity of a piece of content. Even well-translated content will pale in comparison to a version that has been localized by a professional translator, capable of adding cultural nuances.

A translation alone can end up with 
confusing lingo, misused words and an ultimately poor outcome. Sure, it’s suitable for certain types of content, like internal documents or jargon. But for content that requires emotion or creativity, localization is the only sure-fire way to ensure quality is delivered across all locales.
2. Customer Interaction
Say you’ve got an eCommerce website and deliver goods to customers in Europe.  If you decide to enter the U.S. market, then you’ll have to consider a whole host of format changes to things such as time, date and measurement systems. Where a date like 12th March is 12/03/2017 in most of Europe, it’s 03/12/2017 in the States. If you only translate your website, your date format will stay the same as it was for your European customer base.

Assuming they don’t suspect that something is up, the majority of your new U.S. customers will be expecting deliveries on the wrong days. Localizing your website will ensure that these intricate details are accounted for, and save you a bucket load of hassle in the long term.
3. Conversion Rates
While having a translated version might facilitate the initial stage of getting people to visit your website, it’s not enough to turn these visitors into paying customers. Studies by Forrester Research show that localizing your website leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction, due to a more user-friendly experience.

This, in turn, leads to much better conversion rates. When all is said and done, the endgame for any website is to convert as many visitors into paying customers as possible.
Translation may get customers to the door, but localization will convince them to walk through.

In the end…
Both website translation and website localization can help you reach out to a global audience, but to varying degrees of success. If your ultimate goal is to have a truly global website that speaks to every audience in their language and on their terms, then localization is the only way to go.

Interested in localizing your website but don’t know where to start? Contact Localizer for a free demo to see how we can help you!


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