Around 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from websites in their own language.1 So, if you’re going global, speaking your target market’s language is crucial to your success.
To maximise user engagement by creating a website that looks, feels and reads local, but packs all the branding and sales punch of your original site.
How to go about it
Gather a team to determine your localisation strategy. As a starting point, consider these questions:
What languages do the customers you’re targeting speak? Consider the variables. For instance, countries like Switzerland, Canada and South Africa are multilingual. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and others have various dialects.
Does your content management system (CMS) support multiple languages?
Who will ensure your site’s content e.g. images, symbols, colours and text are appropriate for your market?
Does your site have a mobile–responsive design?
If your market is a large expat community, they may prefer content to be in their own language with prices in the local currency.
Design your user interface (UI) to be localisation friendly
Talk to your design team about creating UIs adaptable to all your target languages. This design should allow translators to focus on the accuracy of the translation. Your UI should:
- Spacing — e.g. often German is longer than English, Arabic takes more vertical space
- Density — e.g. Traditional Chinese characters are detailed, so use 12+ point font
- Right-to-left languages — e.g. Arabic, Hebrew, Persian
Transliteration is to write words or letters in the closest corresponding characters of another alphabet. For example, the name for Russia in Cyrillic script, "Россия", is usually transliterated as "Rossiya" (it's translated as Russia).
Develop your site to handle i18n needs
Internationalisation is the process of preparing for localisation. It ensures products and services can be easily translated into local languages and cultures. It's often shortened to i18n.
Aim to make your site easy to use for everyone: customers, and translators. First, work with engineers to code your site with different languages and content types in mind. Then, create a localisation engineering guide. Your best practices for coding/engineering should include:
Create your language resources
Assemble a team of translators to create a glossary and a style guide.
This should give translation instructions for the most important words and phrases on your website, such as your brand name, product names and key features.
||Create a simple glossary
Identify the 10-50 most frequently used terms on your website
Create a spreadsheet with a row for each term
Add a column for each language you’re localising into
||Develop your glossary
Invest in professional translators and reviewers. Hire language specialists from your new market to translate key terms
Review and update your current glossary. If a new product doesn’t match the tone of existing products, create a new product glossary
Choose a terminology management system. Use a high quality authoring tool to manage the translations of your products and services
||Manage your glossary:
Automate your process. Use a glossary management tool
Expand the impact. Create product-specific glossaries
Develop a workflow:
1. Keep your teams on the lookout for new terms
2. Replace outdated terms
3. Gather metrics on key search terms to write SEO-optimised content
A style guide ensures consistently written and formatted web and app content.
||Create a basic style guide
Gather existing writing and design resources into 1 document
Determine which rules to follow (for example: http://www.economist.com/styleguide/introduction)
Select 2–3 recently written pieces of content and assess your ‘natural’ style. Think about your most commonly used words, phrases, and sentence elements
Based on your natural style, create standards for each content type
||Assess your style guide
Review your guide. Get feedback from members of Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, etc.
Align across team needs. Use this to ensure the style guide meets everyone’s needs
Maintain your style guide. Ensure it remains useful by regularly reviewing and updating
||Optimise your style guide
Broaden your base. Create language (and product) specific style guides
Publish your guide. Host it on a platform that all stakeholders can access
Onboard new users. Ensure new content developers familiarise themselves with it