Avoid these traps to make sure your website localization process is smooth and effective
Website localization seems to be an easy way to attract more users and increase your sales figures. As straightforward as this process might be, there are many things that can go wrong along the way.
To make sure you can smoothly adapt your website to a foreign market, remember to avoid these common traps:
1. Not going beyond the mere translation
If you want your multilingual website to be truly engaging, you’ll need to go beyond translation. To localize your website to your target markets, you’ll need to remember that culture matters as well. Your users across the world will have different expectations, different browsing habits or different needs.
That’s why it’s a good idea to adapt every little item of your website, such as content type, visuals, layout or calls to action. For example, if you plan to sell your products to high-context cultures (e.g. Japan), you’ll need to get rid of aggressive promotions that work great for low-context cultures (e.g. USA). Your target users will be also delighted if you add more information relevant to their region, for example if you describe how your company is present on the local market, what events it organizes or supports, or what special campaigns it runs for the local customers.
But to analyze your website and get ready for the proper cultural adaptation, you can’t be one of these businesses that keep…
2. Failing to plan ahead
Localization shouldn’t be an afterthought. Ideally, you’d create your website with localization in mind to help you prepare for the upcoming changes and expansions. Only then you’ll be able to design your website in a flexible way, making space for languages that use different alphabets or form sentences that are typically longer than in your language.
Planning ahead will also help you avoid many technical issues such as hardcoded strings, concatenated strings or wrong character sets. You’ll also have more time to research your target markets, for example to find out what payment methods they use, how your customers take purchase decisions or what information they need to know before they decide to use your services.
If you plan ahead, you’ll also put a halt to…
3. Ignoring the details that matter to your customers
Once you’re ready to fully adapt your website to another culture, you’ll also know what details are important to your customers. Many businesses publish their neatly translated websites just to find out that their products don’t sell as well as on the home market. Sometimes the devil is in the detail: the website displays wrong currency or data format, doesn’t support payment methods preferred by your customers or doesn’t offer enough security to reduce the doubts of your potential customers.
For example, consumers from cultures that are high on uncertainty avoidance (e.g. Germany or Portugal) will expect that your localized website presents awards or certificates that your company achieved, displays clear terms and condition or offers many free trials.
If you forget about all these relevant details in your planning process, it’s still not too late. You’ll easily discover these and many other traps if you stop…
4. Skipping the testing phase
Once your localized website seems to be ready, it might be difficult to resist the temptation to quickly present it to the world. But hold your horses and wait until the localized versions are fully reviewed. Try to run at least two rounds of functional, linguistic and cosmetic testing to make sure everything looks good and works correctly. Acting too hastily may only lead to troubles, unhappy customers and buggy pages.
If you skip the testing phase you won’t be able to verify if your website really displays high quality content and meets the expectations of your target clients. If you treat it with due respect, you’ll surely discover smaller and bigger issues that have to be amended (e.g. overlapping text, cut off strings, misaligned images…) to ensure the best user experience.
Website localization doesn’t have to be a long and twisted journey. While there might be no one foolproof method of adapting websites to a foreign market, you’ll always be on the safe side if you avoid the traps described above.
Over to you
How are you planning to prepare for your next website localization project?
Let us know in the comments below!
Dorota Pawlak is a localization consultant for digital brands. She enjoys helping businesses enter new markets and is passionate about cultures, languages, and technology.
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