What is website localization and why is it so important for global business?

What is website localization and why is it so important for global business?

Posted on September 2, 2020

Well, when you ask Siri, or Alexa ‘what’s the weather?’, the response might be something like “right now, its 23⁰ Celsius and rainfall is expected up to 12 millimeters.” She’s not wrong, but you may be left scratching your head (and wondering if you should grab an umbrella). Website Localization projects would have the intelligence to identify what unit of measurement is the most appropriate for the target audience.  In this case, Fahrenheit and inches are more commonly used for measuring the weather in the US.

While we understand that so much of our day-to-day business is being conducted online, and we want to reach the right people in the right places at the right time, there isn’t always a clear path on how to get there. “Website Globalization” is a term you will hear often in this sphere; it is broad approach to make your website ready for global consumption. Globalization is for a general audience and not just limited to one or two target markets. Just as the term suggested, it is a globalized approach.

“Website Localization” on the other hand, is a fine-tuning process that can be part of a global market expansion strategy to benefit to your company’s products, services, and offerings. The localization of a website is much more involved. Beyond a simple translation, localization requires specific identification of a target market. Then, you will work with cultural and website experts to hone-in on the subtleties to make your website user friendly, visually appealing, and easy to read for that specific market. All of which contribute to a positive user experience, which, is ultimately the goal!

Here are some tips on what to consider when looking into website localization projects:

  • Identify Your Target Market- This is the best place to start when thinking about localization. The target market will drive all the content, context, and cultural nuances needed.
  • Language- While translation can be a great start to showcasing your company and its goods in other languages, it is only a piece of the puzzle. With localization, experts can take your website and translate the information (yes!), but cultural, linguistic preferences and education level of the audience are all considered.
  • Visual Appeal- Images, videos and overall aesthetics can also be customized to appeal to the target audience. This may include style, colors, cultural norms, marketing trends, and people within the images. Graphics and pictures may also need to be updated to appeal to the intended audience. Localization can also mean adapting your website to fit into a foreign market with stylistic preferences in doing business.
  • Navigation- Taking into the account how people in other parts of the world generally access and navigate websites, a version of your site that is sensitive to these preferences can greatly increase usability. We have all been on websites that are hard to navigate, not visually appealing or we find the language a bit clunky. By taking the culture, traditions, beliefs, educations and habits of a specific audience, localization can make the experience for your user much more pleasant, and less frustrating.
  • Formatting- This may include the date and time format, measurement units, as well as currency formatting to ensure your buyers are seeing the correct details. Depending on the products or company, websites can also be programmed to ensure buyers will only see products available for their specific location/country within your target market.
  • Technology- Beyond the language and pretty pictures, the website platform itself may need to be localized to ensure the platform is compatible with the technology available to the target country or market. Here we are talking about internet speeds, bandwidth and technology available.

As you can see, there are a plethora of items to consider when localizing your company’s website for a target market. If this seems overwhelming, there are plenty of resources and professionals to assist in your localization projects. NDTO also works with IBT Online to help North Dakota grow through online global programs which can be found here. The US Commercial Services details on localization can be found here . If website localization is in your near future, NDTO will be hosting an upcoming webinar with IBT Online in October. We also have  funding available through SBA for qualified applicants for this type of project. Feel free to reach out to STEPnd@ndto.com.