Global Lingo Blog

Localization, Localisation, Localization!

In business, like in life, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Whether you want to impress your future in-laws, or your future clients, details do matter.

“If you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you speak to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela.

Even if this quote had been attributed to Anonymous rather than Nelson Mandela, it wouldn’t have been less famous, because it’s true. And it’s especially true in the business world.

Translated websites – a good first impression

A business website is one of the best and also one of the most common ways to reach new customers in the global market place. A translated website can make or break a deal between a business and a new/potential customer from another country.

First impressions based on translation errors are difficult to change. Hilarious or simply sad examples are everywhere. A significant number of translation bloopers happen between languages that have little to no common ground, like English vs. Chinese/Japanese. However, such situations may appear even when the language is the same!

Localised websites – a better first impression

Even when the translation is correct or unnecessary, some businesses still fail after launching in foreign markets. A poor localisation process could be the reason for this. Localisation takes the translation process a stage further by changing as many characteristics of the website’s content as required to conform to the needs of the target audience for the translation.

Slight differences in language in culture are details that must get all the necessary attention.

English in the UK is slightly different from English in the USA, and both of these versions are slightly different from Australian English. The same is true for Spanish spoken in Spain versus each of all the other countries from Latin America.

Localization, Localisation, Localization!

A professional process of website localization demands not only an accurate translation of all the content into the target language/dialect, but also the modification of certain site components. Examples of these components include:

  • Time, date and currency formats;
  • Reversal of page layouts for right-to-left reading languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic;
  • Modification of telephone numbers and addresses to local in-country contacts;
  • Elimination of culturally inappropriate icons or images;
  • Addition of new links to content in the target language.

It all depends on the target market:

“If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann mussen Sie Deutsch sprechen.” – Willy Brandt.

In other words, your client is important. The level of detail required for localisation will depend on the specific needs of your organisation, mirrored on your clients. But before you are able to convince a foreign client about the quality of your services/products, you must make a good first impression.

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