Anyone with a website and a webmaster account, such as the ones provided by Google, can see that people login form everywhere on the planet.
How do you handle this influx to make sure that your business and your website are well represented well? Website localization.
What Is Website Localization?
The definition supplied by Wikipedia is probably the best around:
“Website localization is the process of adapting an existing website to local language and culture in the target market. It is the process of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural context— involving much more than the simple translation of text. This modification process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the site – all while maintaining the integrity of the website. Culturally adapted web sites reduce the amount of required cognitive efforts from visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable.” (1)
This explanation is very telling.
“Adapting a website.. To local language and culture…” This is important. The definition goes on to say that the the work involves much more than simply translation. It requires and understanding of the target culture and an understanding of the priorities in that culture.
AfroLingo and Website Localization
In violation of the rule that says ‘don’t write a blog that is about your business”, we need to use ourselves as an example of how proper website localization is done.
African has over 1000 languages and our firm can do localization in over a dozen of those. We start with the most obvious question, “Can we do this for you?” We don’t work in Mandarin. Unfortunately, we would need to tell that if you called us, but if you want your site to work in Swaziland, we can help you. The languages there are Swati, English, and South African English.
That’s the start.
Next we assign a project manager. They will gather a team of language translators, programmers, designers, and others to do the work together.
Then we start working on changing your entire website.
- Error pages
- Help pages
- Sign up and cart options
- Much, much more.
All of this is to make sure that anything that a customer might see in, in this example, Swaziland, looks like it was made just for them.
The look and feel of your website will change. It might not be obvious to someone from that country, unless you don’t do it well.
Consider Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognizable brand and said to be one of the few things you can find in almost every corner of the world.
Here is the Coca-Cola France
Here is the Coca-Cola site Botswana
It might seem strange, but the first thing that you’ll notice is that the images are different. The Botswana website images better reflect the people who might look at the site from Botswana.
Those images are different from the American site, even though both Botswana and the US are in English. And the motto in Botswana is “Taste the Feeling”, but the American site doesn’t say that anywhere.
What Does All Of This Mean For You?
Simply put, you need to localize your website to fit the language and culture that you are entering. Translation is not enough, which means that trusting your website to a browser translator is not good enough. Change it to fit the customers you hope to gain.
Just for laughs…
Sometimes, even translation is not done well.
When Pepsi translated its slogan, “Come alive with Pepsi,” into Chinese, it didn’t go well. It came out as, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead”. Creepy!