Write and Design With Localization in Mind – Part I

welocalize October 18, 2021

If you’re a global brand, most of the content you produce is most likely destined for multilingual audiences. Localizing for multiple target languages can be complex and if you don’t start with localization in mind, you are making the process unnecessarily longer, more costly, and more complicated.

An important step at the planning stage is to develop your source documents to be localization-ready. These include the source files from websites, marketing collateral, product documentation, and customer support. Every time content is written and designed, you should always ask if it will be easy to translate and localize.

The benefits of creating localization-friendly source documents far outweigh the drawbacks:


What happens if source documents have words that have double meanings or references that are culturally specific? They’ll take a lot longer to translate and localize. Some translations may not be accurate. As such, you will end up doing multiple rounds of reviews and corrections.

Writing and designing content that’s easy to localize reduces the effort required during the review stage. There will be less workload pressure on your translators, reviewers, and project managers. You can finalize documents faster and cut down on your review management costs.


Localization makes use of computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, such as translation memories and machine translation engines. These tools allow you to use the same stored translations for words, terms, and phrases. Another tool to maintain technical, linguistic, and stylistic consistency is a glossary of terms.

Using simplified, internationalized English from the start leads to more consistent translations. Wherever the same words appear, they will be translated the same way. You can make the most of the benefits of these translation tools. And you also reduce manual translation, which lowers your costs as a result.


English text is usually condensed. When translated, however, it can result in longer text. Translated text in Italian, German, and Russian, for instance, ends up with text expansion. If your source content isn’t simplified from the beginning, your translated content takes up more space in your layout. Paragraphs look cramped, documents have more pages, and web text extends beyond graphical elements like buttons, menus, and tables.

Making your source content localization-friendly avoids all these potential problems. Keeping words and sentences short and simple allows for greater flexibility in design and layout once they are translated.


You may be concerned that simplifying your source content will hamper your creativity and lose your brand voice. If you take out all idioms, humor, synonyms, and cultural references, you may have content that’s easy to translate, however, it has no emotional impact.

Think of it this way: You simplify at the start to make localization easier later. However, this doesn’t stop you from “localizing” for your home market. Using the simplified, internationalized English version of your content, you can then introduce more creative flourish. Add all the words, phrases, and images that are consistent with your brand tone, personality, and style. This is how you make your content resonate with your audience. Then apply the same approach to all your target locales.


You know the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” or GIGO, which originated from the software industry. It’s the same thing with translations. Localized content is only as good as the source content. Machine translation (MT) is a huge part of the process, making wide-scale translation automated, fast, and efficient.

MT engines and AI-enabled applications, such as chatbots, require multilingual training data sets. However, poorly written source negatively affects the quality of MT data. This leads to a longer review cycle, increasing costs and decreasing turnaround times. That is why creating content with localization in mind results in more accurate MT output and higher-quality translations.

Involving your Language Service Provider (LSP) at the planning stage is crucial to making sure your source content is localization-ready. LSP teams have worked with volumes and volumes of multilingual content for years and so are in a good position to advise on optimizing source content. Working together, sharing your business and localization objectives, providing access to brand guidelines and glossaries, and co-developing content will result in great content, whatever the language.

Welocalize can transform your content for new languages on a global scale. We have a team of over 2,100 professionals across North America, Europe, and Asia. We also have a growing network of over 250,000 in-country, native-level language and subject matter experts.

We can optimize your source content to localize for your target locales. In fact, we can create source content for you, especially for marketing campaigns that involve transcreation and cultural adaptation. And we can transform the training data used for machine translation and machine learning.

Partner with us to get your source documents and files localization-friendly. Contact us for more info.

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Further Reading:

Blog: Write and Design with Localization in Mind – Part II

Welocalize Guide: Write + Design with Localization in Mind