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This post about website localization has been updated from an original post, dated November 2011.

It’s just a translation of your website. It should be simple, right?

Unfortunately, localizing your company’s website is much more than merely translating text. Sure, you can adopt Google translate and crank out a thirty language website in no time. But if you want to ensure quality language translation, brand consistency, and a website that is fit for each of your end users, you may want to put a little more localization thought into it.

Whether you’re just starting to think about translating your website, or already have multilingual Web experience, here are a few things to consider when planning your next website localization project.

  1. Languages

First and foremost, your customers care which language your website is being presented in.

Did you know? “75 percent of buyers will choose a product in their own language rather than one in English.” Common Sense Advisory: Can’t Read, Won’t Buy

As you get started you’ll likely be on a limited budget, no matter. You don’t need to translate your site into every language under the sun. Just be sure to research which languages best suit your target audience, so you can strategically reach them. Also, consider using culture settings of browsers to automatically set your visitor’s language.

  1. Style guides

Start by creating a style guide that can be used throughout the localization of your website. Different languages often require different fonts and styles. A style guide will help plan out your process and keep each of your website’s translations consistent while speaking to the target audience in a way they will understand—both literally and culturally.

  1. Terminology

When possible, keep your website’s terminology simple and to the point. Any slogans or culturally specific language may be hard to understand or even translate. If any terminology needs to be kept the same, identify them in a glossary that can be used by those involved in the localization process. Consistent terminology will also help foster better translation memory reuse and search engine optimization.

In fact, implementing enterprise terminology management will go far in ensuring quality translations and reduced costs for all of your translation initiatives, not just your website localization project.

  1. Branding

Even though you are translating your website into different languages, it is important to keep your brand’s same global look and feel when localizing. To maintain brand identity, define your standards for company mission statements, history, logos, colors, etc. prior to translation.

Maintaining your brand identity is one of the largest reasons you will want to explore website localization versus attempt straight text translation of your site. Localization your site will ensure that it speaks to the target audience taking into account their cultural preferences, nuances and, in some cases, requirements.

  1. Multimedia

Just as important as your website’s content is its multimedia. If you have audio or video that you wish to translate, be sure to note these separately. Multimedia translation may require you to do voice-over recordings or create localized subtitles, which may add to your localization timeline.

Take note of the cultural preferences. Some audiences will expect subtitles, while others expect voice-over translations. It is important that you not only speak in the appropriate language but also “speak to” the cultural expectations and preferences.

  1. Imagery

Your website’s imagery can also bring about higher translation costs and tribulations. If possible, avoid images that contain embedded text, or else separate them into layers to make their translation easier. Also be sure to avoid culturally biased, sensitive or confusing imagery, which may negatively affect your visitor’s website experience.

Is the target audience a high context or low context culture? Look into these preferences during localization process, as the appearance of your website will play a role in its success with global audiences as well.

  1. Phone numbers and addresses

Something very simple that sometimes slips through localized websites is your company’s contact information. Be sure to double-check that your telephone numbers and addresses are accessible and suitable for each of your localized websites. If not, be sure to provide alternate numbers or specify the necessary service and support.

  1. Legality

Just like languages, each country has its own set of legalities to be aware of when translating your website. In some countries, privacy laws may stop you from collecting your visitors’ data. Other countries don’t allow you to advertise negatively or competitively on your own website. Be sure to look into these technicalities beforehand to avoid timeline delays.

  1. Coding

Standardize your website structure with Unicode, the universally adopted encoding system. This will help remove the need to track encoding when storing, ensure readability, and ease any of your future translation processes. It’s also a best practice to separate your coding from your translatable text, to avoid confusion when localizing your website.

And don’t forget about multilingual SEO (search engine optimization)! Website localization should incorporate MSEO so that once you enter new global markets, your efforts (and money!) aren’t wasted due to not being visible to your intended audiences. Here are a few tips on MSEO to get you started.

Did we miss any vital website localization considerations?

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into a successful global website. We hope these nine things will help you organize, implement and successfully tackle your next website localization project. To get more insight on website localization, download our best practice brief Website localization: Best practices for going global.

Or maybe you haven’t even considered translating your website yet? Here are 10 reasons why you should!

Have further questions regarding website localization and how to execute a globally thriving webpage? Reach out to us!