Maximising profit today involves reaching beyond national markets. Accessing an international customer base is vital if a business wants to expand and participate in international trade.
“Localization” relates to the act of modifying a product to make it both usable and suitable to a target market. Website localization therefore refers to the process of taking an English, western-orientated, website and moulding it to conform to a foreign audience.
The World Wide Web, as its name suggests, is a means by which businesses can reach an international audience. Companies are now recognising that a key step in successfully approaching and selling to international customers is through website localization.
Website localization brings with it numerous benefits. The three main benefits of a website localization service are:
32% of internet users around the world are non-native English speakers. With PC ownership and access to the internet most rapidly increasing outside of North America and Europe, this figure will increase even more. Website localization breaks linguistic barriers and opens doors to other continents.
Companies are now waking up to the fact that English is no longer the international language but one of many including French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. With the number of companies now realising the benefits of website localization, there are more pages in foreign languages than ever before. This means if your company’s site has not undergone the localization process yet, it will be playing catch up in the future.
Website localization builds credibility
If your company only has a site in English and your competitor in all major languages, which one will gain more credibility? Localization of your website demonstrates that you are a truly international player. In addition, through localization it shows that you understand, value and have respect for that particular country or region.
Website localization increases revenue
Billions of dollars, pounds and francs in potential revenue are lost each year due to lack of investment in website localization. Most internet users will naturally feel more comfortable and understand a company better if their information, products or services are presented in their native language. By undergoing the website localization process you access potentially millions of new customers.
It is clear that website localization is a must for any truly international business. In addition to the technical and programming elements of website localization many cultural factors must be borne in mind.
For example, has language been translated properly and cultural variations in terminology, phrases, metaphors and sayings been taken into consideration? Have symbols, graphics, pictures, colours and general layout been viewed for their cultural applicability?
Website localization is a huge investment and should not be viewed as a straightforward process. When localizing your site, ensure you get the expertise of both a website designer and a cross cultural communications consultancy to ensure your site has maximum impact on the target audience.