When business goes on a global platform, you need to create and maintain multilingual website. Besides translation there are few other things to consider. Habits, traditions, etiquettes, customs, superstition, and moral principles of target audiences differ, so changing language is not just translation of the text. It will need recreating the same text in another language, which conveys same thoughts and feelings, which is suitable to other cultures. Adjusting your website to needs of audiences with diverse mentality is known as ‘localization’.
Website localization needs linguistic/cultural knowledge and technical skills. Before localizing, get associated with local translation agency to understand target audience, so as to check if your product fulfills local standards as well as in synch with staple cultural ethics of the natives.
To understand the fundamental differences regarding practices and customs between two nations is crucial. For example, sarcasm does not exist in Japanese culture, so if there is some sarcasm in your content then Japanese audiences will never understand it. Business style in the US is more relaxed but in Poland things are formal, so this approach clash.
Decide core market and choose language version, accordingly. Hire a reliable localizing consultant to plan and navigate smoothly through the process. Experienced translators are pricey but if you aim to establish long-term relationship they will approve minimum charge.
For small businesses, tight on budget can choose less experienced freelancers. You can expect some challenges through the process because both of you are still on a learning stage. Avoid translators, who charge by words because overpaying is easy.
Keep your IT team in loop –
IT team need not be localization expert but it is necessary to prepare them from start for possibility of code updates. They will need to consider possible technical issues relevant to the locality.
Determine how to display –
- default language
- Content layout
- Space requirements
- Special characters & right encoding
- Remove hardcoding of currencies & dates
- Right calendar
These are a few technical challenges back end needs to consider. Make sure your IT programmers gain knowledge before you plan localization.
People in the West read in F-shape pattern and focus their attention on left side. On the other hand, Arabs read right-to-left, so while localizing you need to address this. You just cannot put translated content in same layout as it won’t be in synch with cultural audience code.
Spacing layout for every language differs. For example, English speaking person will find it surprising that some words in Germany language are ridiculously long, even though both use Latin characters. It is because layout for English speaking person was created to fit English text. Therefore perform a layout research to fit text appropriately.
Every language has specific letters and accents that are unique. The problem occurs, when you have not encoded your website properly. Consequently, the characters may end up as odd symbols or if you ignore special characters then translations end up with a different meaning.
Change locale and language
If you decide to display language version automatically according to user’s IP address then there will be issues in countries like Switzerland and India with more than one native language. Therefore, consider asking visitors to select their native language. You can even be straightforward and tell prospective consumers the kind of language support to expect.
Legal considerations need to be according to local law. Make sure your localized website is where your target audience is. Run test and enhance your brand using their feedback.