What is internationalization?

What is internationalization

Internationalization and localization are often confused. However, they play different roles in the translation process. 

Internationalization (often abbreviated as i18n, with 18 representing the number of letters between the I and the N) is the process of designing a software application or website so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes to its source code (i.e., hiring a coder to tweak the software repeatedly). 

Through internationalization, localization is then possible, which is the process of adapting software or website for a specific region or language. Internationalization, first. Localization, second. 

Maximizing efficiencies with internationalization

Can you localize without internationalization? Theoretically, yes. However, without internationalization, localization can be slow, unpredictable and costly because your coders will have to fix and adjust “on the fly” and post-translation. You can see how costs can escalate. 

With internationalization, your code is ready for localization to meet locale and language needs within your markets. Now, you can translate with confidence, utilizing the many variances found in different cultures: dates, times, calendar formats, numbers and more. 

The result is that your audience sees your digital content customized to their language, your brand is seen in a professional manner and your budget has not been subjected to unlimited coding upkeep. 

Expert internationalization is not a one-person job. It requires professional development teams and software engineers that are well-versed in agile development. Collaboration is king.

It also requires “buy-in” within your company, since your expansion into new language markets—and new cultures—requires custom designs, custom marketing communications and a quality assurance team to monitor that every touch point is properly created to reach your desired audience. 

Entering a new global market can wreak havoc upon software or a website that is not internationalized. Expert internationalization creates software that is ready for “double-byte” languages, such as Japanese and Korean (as opposed to “single-byte” languages, such as English. Another issue alleviated with internationalization is the implementation of right-to-left languages, such as Arabic.

Be sure your company is ready to expand into new markets successfully with the right foundation: internationalization. See how the Acclaro team can help you adapt your software or website to reach your desired audience with professionalism. This way, your brand can grow exponentially.

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