If you’re looking for website localization best practices while preparing your website for localisation, you’ve come to the right place. However, it’s a prelude to the actual process. If you would rather want to know about the process, we’ve covered it in our blog, 7 Steps to Kick-Start your Website Localisation. Refer to it.
Let’s begin with what is website localisation and why do you need it? How you can utilize it to expand into a foreign market without having to create new content from scratch. Using site localisation, you can localise and translate already existing content to your target language? The point is to make content relevant to your audience, ensure a sort of conformity where it is relatable to your potential consumers.
Though English is one of the internet’s most common languages, it certainly isn’t the only one out there. The native languages have push English aside when it comes to doing in a foreign market. Since multilingual websites are the new normal, getting your website translated and localised is an imperative.
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What is Website Localisation?
As a process, website localisation is more than just translation and includes adapting your website to your target market’s language and culture. Simply put, website localisation means adapting your website to a local linguistic and cultural context.
The aim of website localisation, therefore, is simply to adapt it to suit the specific linguistic and cultural needs of your target audience. The audience you’re targeting, undoubtedly, speak a different language, and their cultural values differ significantly.
Website localisation, however, isn’t a straightforward process. There are two sides to it. One is the tech side and another is the language side.
On the tech side, localisation service providers ensure your website’s code is compatible with different characters and symbols specific to your target language. This may also include ensuring your website can process transactions in the target market’s local currency.
On the language front, site localisation a) translates your website into another language and b) adapts it to incorporate local cultural sensibilities into the translation.
Additionally, website localization includes tweaking colours and images and localising product explainer videos and manuals so to make everything relatable and convincing to the local audience.
Why Global Website Localization?
Businesses operating in a globalized marketplace have to cater to the linguistic and cultural needs of various localities. Localisation is pertinent to secure for each market a localised experience. It’s in that respect that we’re seeing a staggering rise in multilingual websites trying to reach as many international consumers as possible through web localisation.
Localisation is especially imperative for businesses operating in areas where English isn’t the primary language. Keeping that into account, it’s safe to say that localisation isn’t just a need, it’s a solution. There’s no better way than web localisation to overcome language barriers, which could impede your success overseas.
By removing the impeding factor, website localisation opens up doors to success for your business, which is every business’s supreme aim when expanding into a foreign market.
The original language of your website, which we will presently call primary language, why website localisation is imperative for businesses is because it helps translate and localise the primary language into secondary languages.
Now that you know what localisation means and how it helps businesses expand into new markets, let’s move to our main topic, which is how to prepare your website for localisation.
There’s no denying the fact that multilingual websites enjoy better SEO rankings and can serve a much larger customer base without having to create separate websites or content for each market in the local language.
Instead, you can have the same content translated into a number of languages specific to where you’re shifting without distorting the original message and, at the same time, localising your content for local consumption.
Its importance becomes evident when you’ve visitors to your site in throngs but see no conversions because you don’t support visitors’ language, which drives them away the moment they land on your page. It may well be the reason why your competition drives all sales while you’re left with visits only.
Of course, you want to capitalize on visits to your site, and want to improve conversion rates. The best to exactly do that is by having it translated into their language so that they understand your message and can relate to it, which would cement their trust in your brand and eventually make them returning customers.
So how do you prepare?
Prepare for Site Localisation During the Design Phase
There’s absolutely no wasting the time and waiting for your website to be live before you begin the localisation process. While you’re in the design phase, aim for localising and translating your website in the design phase itself.
This will let developers create your website in a way to accommodate the localisation process without having to rewrite the code later on. Look, it’s not that you translate and the rest falls in line. Translating into any target language causes drastic changes in a page’s layout.
Suppose, you hadn’t accounted for additional languages in the design process, how could you realign the design to accommodate content in your target language?
That’s why accounting for localisation and translation processes while your website is in the design phase is such a key. Since every language comes with a different set of symbols and requires different space adjustments, it’s indispensable for businesses to account for all such differences to keep layout issues at bay.
This will give designers enough room to account for the length and size of words while adjusting pages in the design phase. However, it doesn’t mean you’ve to complete all translations beforehand to mimic target languages’ symbols, lengths, etc. There are pseudo-localisation tools available, like one provided by Shopify, to account for any such adjustments.
Shortest to say, pre-design localisation will ensure your pages are responsive when it comes to layout and size variations.
Use Automated Tools for Text Extraction
Extracting text for translation follows next. Here, developers have to identify text from the original content available and separate it for translation. Not only is it time-consuming, but laborious as well.
Recently, many tools have come to the fore, which make it easy, automated, and save developers lots of time. Noteworthy among such tools is the Angular i18n – a tool that sifts through your website’s HTML code to look for “internationalization” tags. Once these tags have been identified and ready to serve as markers, these tools automatically extract parts of your content begging translation.
Consequently, the extraction tool does save your developers plenty of time, and manual work as well. The only thing required to operate such tools on your website is the “internationalization” tag.
If you’ve labelled your website content with internationalization tags wherever due during the website’s development process, you’ll find no difficulty in operating automated tools for text extraction. Text elements not bearing such tags, these tools will skip it altogether.
However, bear in mind that if parsing errors crop up just because an extra character has been cut off, consult developers immediately. If you’ve turned automated tests on, it’ll apprise you of any such errors as and when they occur so that developers can take immediate measures to rectify mistakes and make pages functional within no time.
Provide Additional Context to Translators
Unless you provide translators with additional context, you can’t expect translation to be top-notch. Quite rightly, the process doesn’t stop at choosing the best localisation agency, you’ve to actively communicate any additional context to translators to efficiently localise your website.
Translation involves taking words and phrases from the original language and translating the same into the target language, hence they serve as “keys” in the localisation process. Translating these keys is central to the website localisation process.
Therefore, efforts should be made to provide as much context around these keys as possible to efficiently translate and localise your website in the target language specific to a market, translators need it when translating.
Context is also important from other perspectives. Every industry has a specific vocabulary and terminology associated with it. Think of healthcare, you can’t do anything, as translators, if you don’t have a command over medical terminology. Apparently, medical translation depends on how well you’ve understood and mastered medical terminology.
Consequently, adding additional content by way of examples and glossaries on translation “keys” makes sense. Translators can use it to bring accuracy and precision to the process. At the same time, providing clues to translators as to what exactly they’re translating. The more they understand these phrases, the better it is for translation.
Simply put, website localisation serves three major purposes: wider reach, audience engagement, and dissemination of information. Therefore, localising your website into target languages is imperative for businesses.
Anyone would aim for a smooth localisation process, but how exactly, very few manage to answer. One way to achieve the same is by translating only relevant parts of your website’s content. In other words, word-for-word translation won’t avail much and isn’t the way to go about it.
In simple terms, translating and localising a product page, which you’re not permitted to sell in a particular market, doesn’t make sense translating it. Similarly, the pieces of content that are irrelevant to your local market need not be translated into another language.
Therefore, before heading into the localisation process ensure content segmentation. By which we mean segmenting data that is important into one cluster and separating it from irrelevant content. This will ensure smooth execution of the website localisation process.
Besides, it’ll translator’s job much easier and less confusing by knowing exactly what to translate and what to leave alone. After you’re done with this, you can send over your project to a localisation agency.
Look, the localisation process never stops with the localisation agency handing over the project. Always ask yourself, after localisation, if your product is effectively localized. Does it fit well with the local linguistic and cultural needs of the foreign market? This will help keep your website’s content up to the mark after it has been published in the target language.
As regards technical aspects of website localisation, you’ll have to ensure that your CMS allows for localisation. If you’re using WordPress, you’re by default designed for web localisation. At the same time, see to it that you’re partnering with a top-notch localisation agency that follows localization best practices.
Best Practices to Successful Website Localisation
- Analyse your target market – You should not localise your website in a hurry. Before you go ahead with your localisation process, analyse your target market effectively. It’ll save you time and money as well.
- Avoid free translation tools – You should always give precedence to quality over cost. Even though translation tools are free, but they lack quality. Therefore, always choose manual translation over machine translation.
- Don’t just translate, localise – You should not stop at translation because translation alone won’t benefit your business. Follow it by localisation process, which will adapt your website to local language and culture and make it relevant to local markets.
Now that you know how to go about preparing your website for localisation, you’re fully equipped to give go-ahead to your localisation project. If you don’t know how to choose a translation agency for your localisation project, we could help. We’re Locate Translate, one of the leading localisation agencies in the UK. Our native linguists with localisation expertise help businesses localise their websites. Write to us about your project enquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +44 208 609 4852 to see how we could help.
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