The Four Stages of Website Localization

Website localization is a massive undertaking.

Two-thirds of internet users worldwide prefer to read content in their native language.

What does a global-first, multilingual website look like?

Website localization is a massive undertaking.

Localizing your website is essential to its international success.

Website localization sets you up for success. But you still need to grab it.

It requires the right team or language service vendor, project management, quality management, a robust technology stack, and systems integration. Website localization typically follows a 4-stage approach.

Stage 1 | Strategic Planning

It is crucial to thoroughly plan and prepare the requirements for the project before you start localizing your website. Planning includes:

Conducting Market Research

Identify target markets. This requires you to research the market size, competition, and legal and regulatory requirements.

Defining Target Languages

If you plan to gradually roll out to specific foreign markets one at a time, you can focus on one language pair. Or you can use your website analytics to identify and prioritize your most important foreign markets.

Stage 2 | Project Preparation

Now that you are clear about your vision and target market, it’s time to set up your localization project:

Organize Your Localization Team

This includes your in-house localization team and language service provider (LSP). Identify which project manager, linguists, and reviewers to assign to the project and obtain any estimated costs.

Create a Roadmap

You should have your plan documented to ensure your team and LSP follow the same guidelines to complete the project accurately, on budget, and on time.

Internationalize Your Website

If this is a new website, create the content with localization in mind. This includes using simple words and sentences and avoiding cultural references so the content will be easier to adapt.

Set Up Automation

Encode your website in Unicode to display the correct character set automatically. They should also separate as much source code as possible from translatable strings so it is easy to apply the right formats, units of measure, and currencies.

Extract All Translatable Text

Extract and export content that needs to be localized. These are the files that your linguists will translate.

Localize Images and Media

Your design team must change photos, images, colors, and videos to localize multimedia content.

Make Your Layout Flexible

Your web developers or user experience team should create or adjust the layout of your website to account for varying text lengths for different languages.

Stage 3 | Project Execution

Implementing your localization project is more straightforward; however, it is the most time-consuming. With your website and all files ready for translation, you should then follow these tasks:

Create a Project Brief

Provide your team with everything they need to know about the project, including specific instructions for each piece of content.

Prepare Localization Resources

These include your style guide and term base or glossary, which will help your linguists apply correct and consistent translations.

Develop Your Translation Memory (TM)

This serves as storage for all approved translated text, making it easier to apply the exact translation quickly and consistently. Your TM also needs to be constantly updated as the project moves along.

Get The Right Tech Stack

Your company or LSP must have all the software and tools to streamline and automate the localization project. These include a translation management system (TMS) to manage the project, computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, machine translation (MT), and linguistic quality assurance (LQA) tools.

Integrate With Your Systems

Instead of sending files for translation by email or cloud storage, the best approach is to connect your TMS with your content management system (CMS) to avoid manual transfers and reduce turnaround times.

Stage 4 | Post-Localization

This phase is where your reviewers analyze your translated content, and testers check the user interface (UI) and user experience.

Conduct Multiple QC Checks

Your reviewers should run QC checks at critical points in your project timeline. This includes ensuring linguistic accuracy, cultural appropriateness, and consistency of your brand voice.

Run Functional User Tests

Aside from reviewing the translated content, you also need to do international user testing to ensure the website functions as intended, with navigation, buttons, online forms, and shopping carts working as they should, even after translation.