Localization goes beyond simple translation of text. The goal is to provide users with a native experience and what may seem like small details often make or break whether you convert users to customers.
A Common Sense Advisory report (2014) found that more local-language content throughout the customer experience leads to a greater likelihood of purchase.
For companies wanting to go global, this is more than enough reason to invest in professional localization and translation services.
Website localization is the process of adapting an existing website to local language enabling you to connect with customers in new languages and cultures. It includes ensuring all content, text, graphics and other multimedia, is translated in a way deemed appropriate to the specific locale of your target audience.
Localizing the Essentials
Market-specific content such as numbers, dates, measurements and addresses, when translated and localized professionally, will encourage trust and loyalty with a foreign target market. Here are pointers to ensuring your localized content is read naturally by all audiences.
Measurements, Dates and Time
Find out if your target market uses metric or imperial measurements and if these values are abbreviated when used.
Date formats in the U.S., Philippines and some other countries are displayed as MM-DD-YYYY, yet the most widely used date convention in the world follows this order: DD-MM-YYYY. When in doubt, we suggest you spell out the name of the month, or use an abridged form, to avoid confusion. i.e., 15-Nov-2016.
For the time of day, some use the 24-hour time, i.e. 15:00, and others use 12-hour time, i.e. 3:00 pm (see quick guide below).
Also consider that the week doesn't start on the same day around the globe. In the U.S., it starts on Sunday but in the U.K and most of the world it starts on Monday. In the Middle East it starts on a Saturday in the Maldives on Friday. These are important for choosing delivery dates.
Addresses and Telephone Numbers
Addresses and phone numbers differ considerably across the world. The U.S.'s Universal Postal Union offers information you need for many countries with examples of how this information is written and read.
East Asian addressing systems, in native scripts, start with the province or prefecture and end with the name of the addressee. In most other countries addresses are written from most specific (i.e. the name of the addressee) to the most general.
Telephone numbers should be formatted to include the international dialing codes to prevent confusion and save users having to find these codes themselves.
In the English speaking world it is common for the given (first) name to precede the last (family) name. But it's the opposite in most Asian countries where the last name comes first.
- The vast majority of countries use:
- International System of Units (SI)
- Celsius temperature scale
- DMY or YMD date format
- 24-hour clock when written
- Monday as the first day of week
Don't neglect the local currency and where the appropriate separators for decimals, if any, are inserted. For instance, in France they use commas. Ensure professional coding of your website to accommodate non-Latin text, accent marks and RTL languages, when applicable.
As we mentioned earlier, localization is way more than translating text. The goal of creating a multilingual website is to connect and engage with your global audiences. To successfully do this, you must craft your content in a way that makes sense to them. Formatting dates, currencies and addresses, along with site copy, in the format of the target audience is a way to show your dedication to communicating with your website visitors.
Translation and Localization Resources
You may gain further insights into global e-business, global SEO, website translation, country specific cultural facts and related topics by reviewing some previous blogs and resources written by GPI:
- Website Translation Tips and Best Practices by Country Series
- Languages Quick Facts
- Raising Children in a Foreign Country
- Chinese Language Translation eBook
- Danish Language Translation eBook
- Arabic Language Translation eBook
- Creating Culturally Customized Content for Website Translation
Please feel free to contact GPI at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about our language and technology services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs. You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.
About the Author
Director, Global Accounts. Peter has over 18 years’ experience in business development within the localization industry supporting clients for documentation, software and website globalization services. He started his career in the translation industry in 1995 and over the years has worked for several leading localization service providers including LMI, Berlitz, Welocalize, GPI and Beyondsoft. Throughout his career Peter has led by example and always put his clients’ needs first to ensure client expectations are understood and successfully met. Over the years Peter has trained extensively in Solution Selling, Action Selling and Localization Sales, Testing and Project Management. Peter handles many of GPI’s global accounts helping educate clients on GPI’s comprehensive suite of globalization services and industry best practices.More Content by Peter Betts