What do I need to think about when localising my website?

October 31, 2014 by Alison Tunley

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When moving into a foreign market, it’s important that you do as much background work as possible before your ‘launch’ to ensure you hit the ground running.

In modern business, your website is your shop window – so it’s vitally important that everything is in the right place and makes sense to casual browsers who might be interested in your services.

But why can’t you just leave it as it is? Almost everyone speaks English, right?

Why do I need to localise my website?

While it might be the world’s second most-used language behind Chinese, only around a quarter of internet users actually speak it, according to Internet World Stats.

Furthermore, a study by Eurobarometer revealed that despite almost half (48 per cent) of all web surfers in the European Union admitting to “at least occasionally” visiting English language websites, fewer than one in five (18 per cent) said they would frequently make online purchases in another language.

Even more significantly, 42 per cent told researchers they would “never” buy from a site in a language that was not in their native tongue.

This could be down to an issue of consumers not having the same level of trust in a website that is in a foreign language, or it could be down to the fact many customers simply do not have faith in their own skills to complete a transaction in another language.

Of course, this provides something of a problem to overseas organisations looking to break into a new market, but who don’t share a common language. The answer? Website localisation.

How do I localise my website?

Don’t be fooled – this is not a small job. There are plenty of things you need to consider.

At this point, it’s probably worth seeking out the help of a professional who specialises in website localisation.

What you actually need to think about depends entirely on what languages you are translating from and to. If you’re an English company expanding into China, then the character set of the text you’re using will be different. Similarly, if you’re localising for a Russian audience, then the alphabet needs a complete rework. Finally, bear in mind which country you are translating for – European Spanish is not the same as South American Spanish, for example.

Keep your content as unambiguous as possible – sticking to this rule when creating the site in your mother tongue can make the process of localisation much simpler.

Moving away from language, you also need to be aware of cultural nuances that can make a significant difference. Colours can have different meanings or inferences and the last thing you want to do is cause offence or come across as being ignorant to your audience.

The design of your website is something that might need a complete rework. If your audience reads from right to left – as is the case in Arabic-speaking nations – then this can impact on how your page will be viewed.

Similarly, you might want to consider how your audience typically digests information. Germany is known as having a ‘low context’ culture, where clear menus and a straightforward layout helps the user navigate their way through the site without experiencing difficulty or confusion.

At Rosetta Translation Ltd, our team of experts are experienced in carrying out localisation work and could be a crucial difference in determining you get off to the perfect start when launching your overseas website. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

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