Websites are multipurpose tools for communication between businesses and customers. They commonly provide the maximum information about services and products, allow for the building of comprehensive e-commerce funnels, are the first contact point between the user and the company, and make the first impression about the business. Such a wide list of tasks that can be covered makes localization of websites a hot topic and increases the popularity of web localization services.

So, what is website localization? It is adapting the website content, including images, texts, and number formats (date and time, currencies, etc.) to the specific region's (cultural, language, religion, and other) nuances. Hence, this is translation and a complex group of activities to adjust the website to the audiences' expectations. Let's examine the main advantages multilingual websites can bring to companies and organizations. The statistics showed the following data:

  • 65% of users prefer the website to be in their native languages (even if the language is poor and has mistakes).
  • 40% of users will never buy on websites with a language other than their native.
  • Only 25% of users on the internet speak English.

Thus, we can see how many business opportunities can be lost by staying with English-targeted content only. This correlation will also be more clearly expressed when entering new markets. Language is vital to national identification, so using the local language is also an expression of respect and will increase the audience's trust. Otherwise, compared to domestic companies, businesses that communicate with clients in a foreign language may be less competitive in the local market.

What does the website localization process include?

Believing you can only translate the main information and communicate with different audiences successfully is a mistake. The multilingual website's best practices include a list of preparatory tasks, translating, testing, polishing, etc. For convenience, we have split all the web localization tasks into three groups and provided an overview separately. Let's go through them.

Group 1. Preparatory work

  • Market research. Before starting any website localization process, you should clearly understand where you will go and what the local audience expects, as this understanding affects the final result. For example, after an unsuccessful competitive race, Walmart left the South Korean market in 2006 . They faced the same situation in Germany when Walmart didn't consider the importance of the ecological question in society and provided abundant plastic bags and packaging in stores. To prevent such a mistake during web localization, you should clearly understand your customers, their pain points, cultural nuances, hot topics, and how your successful local competitors work.

  • Resource and task scope planning. To start a website localization process, you should approach it in the same way as any other long-term development project:

  • decide on the final deadline;

  • collect all the info that should be localized, including marketing materials, pitches, infographics, emails, etc;

  • analyze current team abilities in terms of deadlines to start the recruitment process (if needed;)

  • build the roadmap to understand the localization stages and their deadlines clearly.

  • Choose the auxiliary tools. You should understand which payment, scheduling, or other software you will have on your website. For instance, if you have used PayPal for payments, it is worth researching if this option is available in the region you want to enter.

  • Choose the localization system. The more content you have, the more necessary it is to use the web localization software to unite all the localization efforts and automate the entire process. Choosing the right TMS (translation management software) can be complex, so we have provided detailed steps to find the best option for your project in a separate paragraph below.

Group 2. Localization process

  • Creating documentation for localization. There is a list of the documentation required for successful website localization. At the very least, it includes a glossary with all the essential terms for the project (including non-translatable terms) and a style guide to keep the project consistent. The quality of this documentation directly corresponds to the quality of the final result.

  • Preparing the localization resource files. Depending on the technology stack, the team may need to create or modify resource files — JSON, XML, YAML, Excel tables, etc. The multilingual website best practices discussed in this article recommend one of the best options: using seamless synchronization between CMS (content management system) and TMS as a time-saving approach when your development team does not need to do prep work.

  • Web design localization. The same sentence in different languages will have a different length, which can affect the entire design. The same situation can also be faced during button translation and because of the text direction (right to left or top to button.) Due to this, design localization is often the first step of website content adaptation to avoid potential issues with layouts and cultural nuances (for example, by using offensive images or wrong colors).

  • Website content translation. After completing all the tasks above, we can finally start translating. Your team now has all the tools, guides, and workload needed.

Group 3. Pre-launching and improving

  • SEO optimization. To make the localization of the website successful, include SEO optimization in the plan. Well-done SEO tasks will help you reach the top position in the region's search engines and get organic users/clients. Talking about SEO, this process primarily includes keyword research and page optimization based on them, correct interlinking, and preparing best-fit located-specific URL structure.

  • Localization QA. As with any other development process, website localization requires accurate testing. The process includes:

  • Checking cultural and regional nuances like date formats, currencies, measurement systems, etc.

  • Checking of linguistics (spelling and grammatical errors, wrappings, terms usage, etc.)

  • Checking of interfaces (UI/UX). Here, we can include design consistency, correct hyperlink language, hotkeys, etc.

Completing the steps above without wasting time and in an optimized way can be complex for those who have faced the localization challenge for the first time. Companies are forced to build processes from scratch and study how to manage them, which is only possible with a proper web localization solution.

However, the vast market and finding the best translation management software that fits your requirements can also take time.

How to choose the web translation software?

Before starting research, you should choose the approach you want to use for website localization. This step will immediately shorten the list of potential web localization services. Let's highlight three main options.

  • Translation via integration. One of the most straightforward ways is to find the TMS (translation management system) that supports integrating your content management system (for example, Contentful or Storyblok) from scratch. This option builds seamless translation workflows where translators are fully synchronized with all the needed content and can get/provide updates quickly. Such an option guarantees that all new content will be available for translators in time.

  • Embedded JavaScript. Some translation management systems allow embedded JavaScript localization. This approach dynamically changes website content based on the user's language preferences. Despite the apparent convenience, you may encounter a list of problems by using Embedded JavaScript:

    • Page loading speed decrease: Inline text can increase the size and loading time of JavaScript files, which affects page loading speed.
  • Indexing issues: Search engines like Google may have difficulty indexing text embedded in JavaScript.

  • Using proxy. The website traffic is routed to the intermediate server, and the content changes dynamically based on the user's location and language preferences. Using a proxy also has a list of restrictions that should be considered when choosing the optimal localization way, namely:

  • Performance. When routing traffic through the intermediate server, the site speed can decrease.

  • More availability risks. If the proxy server fails or is unavailable, the site may be partly or wholly unavailable for users.

  • Security issues. Redirecting traffic through a proxy server may increase data security and privacy risks.

  • SEO difficulties: The multilingual website pages have worse indexing as content changes dynamically.

As soon as you decide which path to take, examine the TMS abilities in three directions: localization management, translation, and communication. For instance, Lingohub provides the following localization solutions for each category:

Localization management is represented by:

  1. Comprehensive dashboard with the most priority information;
  2. Work reports with a summary of all translations that were done;
  3. Cost reports that allow automatic counting of fees per translator.
  4. The project's progress bars show the gains per language and text status.
  5. Audit, API, and text edit logs to control any activities in the organization.
  6. User roles and custom permissions to provide individual access.

For convenience translation, we have:

  1. Two different editor views that are fully customizable and sharpened per focus and general overview.
  2. Term base, which automatically provides suggestions and a style guide that affects machine translation suggestions and helps linguists keep a project in a single tone of voice.
  3. Pre-translation feature (prefill) that fills all chosen segments from machine translation, translation memory, or translation history.
  4. Automated suggestions from the quality checks about extra or missed spacing, duplication, incorrect terms, missed or extra placeholders, etc.

Additionally, your team can communicate without leaving the Lingohub application. Discussions is a perfect tool for translators to comfortably mention other team members or text segments they have questions about and discuss any issues that arise.

Of course, this is only a part of our features. The entire list, including two-factor authentication, workflows, translation orders, backups, and other abilities, is available on our website. If you have any questions or want to learn more about how Lingohub can cover your business needs, please contact us or arrange a demo call with our team. We are always happy to help!

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