How to Prepare for Web Page Localization

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Recent Forrester research shows that the best way to drive action is to address customers in their own language. This simple act triples the likelihood a site visitor will buy a product or service.

Yet “in their own language” goes beyond word-for-word website translation. If you want your website to have impact, you’ve got to localize it.

Web page localization enables you to reflect social, cultural and language preferences (like idioms) of your target audience and to function with users’ browsing behaviors. These sort of language services help your marketing be more relevant to the audience and avoid miscues and blunders.

Lest you think translation is enough, consider these data points:

  • KPCB’s Internet Trends 2014 reported that 6 of the top 10 global internet properties are based in America, yet 86% of their users are outside the U.S.
  • Appia research shows that 86% of localized campaign creative out-performed English versions in both click-through and conversion rates, charting a 22% lift.
  • A study by the Nieman Lab found that the geotargeted posts were six times more successful than posts that were shared with a larger audience.
  • Common Sense Advisory’s Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: How Translation Affects the Web Customer Experience and E-Commerce Growth revealed that 55% of respondents bought only at websites where information was presented in their language. For those with limited English, the preference for mother-tongue purchases increased to 80% or more.

Now that you see the value of web page localization, here’s how to get started:

  1. Create a site technology inventory. How you localize depends on the user interface, functions and applications, and technology components that make up your website. Develop a full listing of everything from your CMS integration technology or ecommerce platform to forum software.
  1. Complete pseudo-localization. This software testing method replaces Western characters with international double-byte characters and shows whether or not your site technology supports multiple languages.
  1. Establish which internal team supports global site deployment. Work with your internal IT and marketing teams to determine which parts of the site should be localized and which group will be the point of contact for your language services provider (LSP).
  1. Anticipate future needs. A one-time localization effort may be sufficient, but if you plan to expand into new markets with different languages, your LSP may choose to optimize your site differently to accommodate that in the future.
  1. Gather source media. If you include image, graphic and video files on your site, provide the source files to your LSP for translation and embedding. Otherwise, those assets will be untranslated.
  1. Select navigation or URL/domain name options. Navigation impacts the entire user experience and web function, so it’s critical to determine if you want to use a language toggle/drop-down option or a gateway or splash page powered by geolocation. Then determine which domain structure option you want: TLD with subdirectory folders, localized country code TLD or a subdomain structure.

It’s also important to assess your human resources needs before embarking on a web page localization program. You want to work with native language speakers in the regions your target—which usually requires engaging an LSP with an experienced localization team. Website translation teams handle:

  • Reviewing translation
  • Revising content for cultural, social and local language preferences and norms
  • Infusing local flavor
  • Sourcing or creating additional locally-relevant content

The localization team completes these tasks independently or in concert with your web support group. Speaking of them, it’s also critical to assess their capacity and skill. The additional work required to develop, test and maintain the various localized sites may be more than your current staff can cover.

Keep these points in mind as you prepare for website localization and expand your brand’s reach across the globe.

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