Localization: A Short Business Case

 by anthony on  |
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Every business faces several challenges when localizing its website. These range from the actual translation of content, SEO capability, design and functionality of the site after localization. Another huge challenge lies in ensuring the website is culturally adapted to the new market.

ROI Potential
The Localization Industry Standards Association – which is now the Industry Specification Group for Localization (ISG) – estimates that for every $1 spent on localization, a business will make a return on investment of $25. That’s right, a mind-bending 2,500% return. So, how does this make any sense if your site is in English, and English is the most common language used online? Where’s the value coming from?

English only accounts for about 25% of all languages used worldwide, and the online usage figures are slightly skewed. A lot of the time, people who visit your site only use English as a second language and are therefore reading your content in a language that isn’t native to them. Eurobarometer ran a survey that discovered 42% of respondents would never purchase something from a website that wasn’t in their native language. Let that sink in for a minute – your monolingual website will miss out on almost half of all potential purchases from these visitors.

Design is Key
Most companies spend a lot of time and effort making sure they get their main, native language website right. By building in a measure of adaptability at the design stage, you can make sure you don’t have to start again from scratch for every localized site. The vast majority of businesses spend countless hours perfecting their website content in their native language, but give only a fraction of that time when localizing to other languages.
That’s a mistake which will cost you further down the line. However, you can make life much easier by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to separate different areas of the site for design purposes. Using CSS, you can edit specific parts of your website to suit your new language, without the need to build a whole new design.

There’s also the conundrum of language style and size to consider, which CSS can help to overcome. For example, a word in English may be much longer when translated into Spanish and this will cause design issues in areas like drop-down menus or text in images. Not all languages read from left to right, either. Hebrew and Arabic are read from the opposite direction and this must be accounted for during the design stage.

Luckily, using CSS means your site can handle the localization process easily for these languages. However, there will still be some inevitable switches of images and menus around for your site to look native.

Simplicity Matters
As you know (probably as you read this blog!), writing for online isn’t the same as writing for something like print. Most readers want the vital information as quickly as possible and tend to ‘power read’ content in search of what they need. Rarely will people read the entire piece of content, meaning you must keep it as simple as you can. This is even more important when targeting a global customer base, as it can reduce your workload during the localization process.

Language that is easy to read, avoids references that are specific to one country, and is neutral in tone can make the initial localization process easier. It can also make it easier for international visitors to grasp your site quickly. That being said, let’s not forget that it’s always best to localize each language as finely as you can. This type of language will make it easier to initially localize, but it won’t yield the best outcome.

Taking your content to the next level requires working with translators who are native to that market and have the ability to add in colloquialisms and native turns-of-phrase. Localization is morphing your content for an entirely new audience, but still maintaining the key point of that content and the brand message that goes with it. Localizer can help here, with a network of professional translators that can localize your entire website in just a few days, regardless of how much content you have.


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