How to approach website localisation

A guide to making your website feel local

3 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:

  • Workflow and tools

    • Ensure that commands, buttons, and forms are easy for each culture to understand
    • Allow users to configure their language preferences by using a Universal Language Selector (ULS)
    • Consult user language profiles to learn what languages multilingual users most likely speak
  • Character and string handling

    • Avoid showing users UI strings before they’ve been translated
    • Store all data in a language/country-neutral format (e.g. Unicode for strings)
  • Libraries

    • Use industry standard libraries for language-specific formatting (e.g. Unicode Common Locale Data Repository [CLDR]) for dates, times, time zones, numbers, and currency)
    • Create an international identifiers’ library to properly represent languages and regions (as needed)