PART III. Tips for a Successful Website Localization
Localization is not an exact science and each client and target customer segment has its peculiarities. There is no specific standard but experience has showed us that there are certain practices that can help you avoid the most common localization problems to ensure a smooth process.
1. Plan for translation from the beginning
If you are a global company, try to use a Content Management System (CMS) that has multilingual capabilities to build your website. Localization might not be in your near future plans but it is always an option.
If you’re going to code, never hard code and leave a door open to internationalization.
2. Create your content with translation in mind
Ensure that your original content is of high quality and that it can be adapted for international markets. Content that has been written purely for the domestic market, especially using slang and colloquialisms, is very difficult to translate as many of the implicit meanings and references will be lost.
3. Chose a design that supports special characters and ’right-to-left‘ (RTL) languages
Many languages have special characters beyond the EN alphabet (such as diacritical markets and non-Western letters), as well as double-byte languages.
Moreover, some languages as Arabic or Hebrew are written in RTL format, which looks completely different than the left-to-right languages.
4. Don’t pack your website with text and images
In your design, allow room to accommodate strings of different sizes. Text tends to expand when translating from English into many European languages or to contract when translating into Asian languages.
If you have a cluttered design or hard-coded CTAs, you’re going to have to face several problems: broken design, collapsing strings, weird line breaks, reduced site speed, etc.
5. Make language selection easy
Place the language switching toggle in a visible place on your website (upper corners usually work great) so that users can easily decide which version they prefer to read.
6. Give access and credentials to translators for context
If your page is protected with password or if certain parts can only be seen if registered or with a subscription, it is very important to give access to the translators to the live content. This way, they will be able to test the functionalities, understand the context and check the layout. The same string can call for a different translation if it is for a banner than for simple body text.
Furthermore, if you have any glossary and /or multilingual style guide do not hesitate to pass it on to the specialist.
7. SEO can be different in each country
If you want to optimize your language sites, defining a clear keyword strategy and SEO from the beginning is essential. This way, the translator will be able to incorporate the chosen keywords in the target text. If you wait to take decisions on multilingual SEO until the translation of the website is finished, it can take a huge amount of time and efforts to update it.
A very important tip for multilingual SEO: Respect the most used engine in each region and do your research accordingly.
8. Test before launching – Localization Testing
Linguistic testing ensures that all the content has been adequately translated. At Kotoba Translation, we always do one live final test for all our clients to make sure that all the language versions of the site are functioning correctly.
Things that you can easily miss if you don’t do localization testing:
Names, time, date, weights, measurements, etc.
Images and charts
9. Avoid making changes once the localization process has started
Once you begin the localization process, avoid making changes to the source material. Changes can increase the time and the cost, as translators will have to do an extra effort to locate the changes and implement the updates.
If you need to update the content, it is better to wait until the process is finished. Then you will be able to leverage the translation memory to re-translate the updates. But the golden rule is to start localizing only when you know that the content is final and definitive!
10. Machine Translation reveals unprofessionalism
The quality of machine translation cannot be compared to that of human translators because they cannot understand the sentence structures or the context. Machine Translation also leads to numerous errors, unnatural style and an overall unprofessional image.
All the time and money you invested will mean nothing if your website is not localized to be attractive to the local users.
The best service will depend on your exact requirements. To make your localization (L10N) process less stressful, you can count with us. At Kotoba Translation, our experience and the expertise with which we handle localization projects will guarantee you a total success.