Businesses are becoming savvier and taking advantage of the fact that localization opens up your brand to the world. With a reported $25 return for every $1 spent on website localization, it’s clear why it should be considered when thinking of global growth strategy.
Website localization can often be overlooked, especially if companies have already translated their website, believing that they are one and the same. Website localization is about more than making sure that you can offer several languages. Without realizing, some text in Urdu on your site could offset a drop down menu, or writing in German may create overlap on borders.
Taking this into account, you must be mindful of how localization and translation can affect your user interface (UI). Users in other countries will appreciate time spent in making sure their experience on your website is the same as everyone’s around the globe. Take a look at these three instances where website localization can affect your UI and we know for a fact, your international users will thank you for it!
Consider Different Characters, Sizes and Length
In order for your users from all over the globe to have the best experience on your website, you must be conscious of characters, sizes and lengths. Different languages can be different sizes, which can also skew the user interface. Be aware that languages like Thai, Russian and Chinese may need to be re-sized to fit nicely onto your website. Writing in a language like German can be about 20% more than English. Make sure your website can handle foreign characters like Ӂ, ᵳ or ὼ and not get corrupted. Not all languages are read left to right like in the Western world, such as Arabic and Chinese. This needs to be taken into consideration when localizing the UI. You may want your main drop down menu button positioned in a different place to the original source version.
Be Sensitive Towards Colors and Icons
Stick to universally acknowledged icons when using symbols and icons. For example, a magnifying glass for search or an X to close. If not, then make sure your icon has a label to describe what it is and how to use it. Something as simple as color can have a completely different meaning to your users in other countries. As an example in China, if a photo of a person has a black border, it means that person is dead. It is advised to no use black borders around photos of your showcased team members on your site.
It is still important to choose a color that represents your brand. There may be instances when the corporate brand color palette does not translate. It is important to know how to represent your company in universal or try to find a middle ground color that truly represents the brand in all your target geographies.
Formatting Matters with Dates, Times and Currency
Even the best translated websites can end up with glitches as a result of formatting. It may seem obvious; however, different countries have different date formats. It can be easy to get this mixed up, especially when using one language spoken by different countries. For example although American and British English are quite similar, the format for calendar dates differ. Also, do not forget about currency as well! The US, Canada, Australia, Belize, Hong Kong, Brunei and many more all use the dollar but just because it have the same name, does not mean it’s the same currency. Specify which type of currency you mean by writing the country abbreviation next to it to avoid confusion.
Taking these instances into consideration will help you create a multilingual digital presence that thinks globally but speaks locally.
Successfully integrating the UI into the overall website localization project will result in customers from all over the world being able to easily navigate your website, creating an enjoyable user experience. Remember, a successfully localized website is one the user can’t tell has been localized.
Louise Donkor is a member of Welocalize’s Global Marketing and Business Support team.