3 steps for leveraging a website localization workflow
In today’s competitive market, a multilingual website is a must-have. It should come as no surprise that 46% of the top ecommerce sites offer content in four or more languages. But before you can localize content, you need a plan—and that includes a website localization workflow that outlines each step of the process.
Although it may seem unnecessary, a workflow is key for staying organized. Multilingual website localization is a major undertaking that requires input from translators, editors, graphic designers, web developers, and other localization team members. A customized workflow will keep everyone on track.
Why you need to localize your website
Before we cover the steps of website localization, you need to know why it’s vital for your international brand.
Localization is the best way to reach a multilingual audience. This is more important than ever because only 25% of global internet users speak English. If your website is monolingual, you’re missing a major share of customers worldwide.
Even if you want to market to locales where English is a secondary or tertiary language, localization still gives you an advantage. Why? Because 76% of customers prefer to purchase products with information in their own language.
Key aspects of website localization
Website localization goes beyond translation to reimage the user experience for visitors in different locales. That may mean:
- Adjusting the text size, length, or orientation. Translated text can be longer, shorter, or oriented differently, depending on the target language. For example, German is up to 35% longer than English. In this case, you need to consider the longer text will look in your current layout.
- Changing images and iconography. Imagery isn’t universal, and in some instances, it may be offensive in the target culture. For example, some Islamic countries have modesty rules, which requires altering images of people to meet the dress code.
- Fine-tuning content to fit cultural preferences. Product listings, blog posts, videos, and other content won’t be equally relevant everywhere. But localizing it for the target audience will help improve engagement. For example, if you localize an eCommerce site into French, you could feature your best-selling products in France.
- Following local regulations and legal requirements. Countries have different laws regarding online sales, data collection, and privacy. For example, websites that target audiences in the European Union must meet GDPR requirements.
- Changing date, currency, phone number, and time formats. Adjusting formats to match a country’s norms will improve the user experience by making it easier to read and input information. For example, if you want to localize a website into Japanese, you need to change the currency to Yen.
Adjusting names to local conventions. Templates for contact pages, order forms, and email sign ups all have fields. You need to localize these forms to match local naming conventions, which will allow users to correctly input their personal information. For example, if you want to localize a website into an East Asian language, you’ll likely need to put the surname before the given name.
Tips for localizing your website
Localization involves numerous aspects of your website. To stay organized, you need to plan the process in advance. Here are five tips on how to do it.
Conduct market research to understand your target audience
Like any business endeavor, localization starts by identifying the customer base. Not every market will have a big enough demand to make it financially viable for your business. As you conduct market research, analyze which countries and regions will likely generate the highest ROI from a localization standpoint, and start there.
Internationalize your website
Internationalization is the process of ensuring a website’s platform, workflow, and architecture can support different languages and cultural conventions. Most content management systems (CMS) are already internationalized. You can conduct an audit to determine whether your website is global ready. It should:
Have menu buttons and layouts that adjust for language expansion or contraction
Enable audiences to select their preferred language
Design your website with localization in mind
Different languages need different layouts and fonts to render properly. For example, Arabic speakers read from right to left. Your layout should be flexible enough to adapt text in different formats, orientation and lengths. Fonts should also support characters in most languages. Arial Unicode MS (Sans Serif), Myriad Pro (Sans Serif), and Times New Roman (Serif) are three great choices due to the ease of translation.
Design a localization workflow
Your localization provider will develop a workflow that helps teams organize and execute the project. This is a stand-alone process that is technology independent because the structure is based on your CMS and the unique requirements of your website.
With your input, the localization provider will define:
Users and roles, such as content reviewers, editors, and translators
Actions, such as creating content, formatting and exporting content for translation, and reviewing translations
Automated notifications, such as when a team member must complete a task, or a task is complete
Continuously measure the success of your strategy
A multilingual website localization initiative is rarely one-and-done. You need to continually monitor the success of your content and optimize as needed.
To measure localization success and ROI, you need to establish key performance indicators (KPI) that can include:
- Keyword ranking
- Page views
- New vs returning visitors
- Conversion rates
- Revenue/Sales in new locations
Website localization workflow: the localization process
A workflow is typically broken out into three major steps: preparation, translation, and in-context review. Here’s a brief overview of each.
Preparation: getting your site ready for localization
Preparation is an essential step that will help you set standards and ensure a smooth localization process.
Start by carefully reviewing your website to determine which types of content are high priority and need to be localized first. You can use Google analytics (or your preferred platform) to track which pages have the most traffic, engagement, and conversion rates.
For example, let’s say you want to localize an ecommerce website. The homepage and product pages are the obvious high priorities. However, you may find that a sign-up page for exclusive offers has a high conversion rate, making it a great candidate for the first round of localization.
And remember, you can always localize lower performing content later, if necessary.
Glossary and style guide creation
Next, create a glossary and a style guide for the localization team. This will help translators accurately translate important terms and match your brand voice.
A glossary includes:
- Corporate and product nomenclature
- Abbreviations and acronyms
- Terms that shouldn’t be translated (e.g., product names, anything with a copyright, and generally accepted industry jargon)
A style guide includes:
- Your linguistic and stylistic preferences
- Formatting guidelines
- Any country-specific rules
Review and acceptance
The localization team will adapt the glossary terms and style guide for the target market. You’ll need to review both to determine whether they meet your brand guidelines.
The team will then prepare each file for translation through a process called localization engineering. This ensures your content is entered into the translation management system correctly.
QA plan creation
The team will also develop a quality framework to identify areas for optimization and align quality measurements with your expectations.
The website translation stage involves content translation, editing, and early review. Here’s a brief overview of each.
The translation team will work with you to determine the right approach for your content. This may include a blend of human and machine translation based on the types of content and degree of accuracy needed.
Some types of content require a combination of in-country translators and linguistic editors to meet quality standards. This typically includes content that reflects your brand voice.
The translation team will then conduct an early review to ensure the content matches the brand’s style and tone and that all terminology is used correctly.
Once the website translation is complete, the localization team will review it within the website’s layout. This helps them identify any issues before the site goes live.
The team will start by setting up a staging site to evaluate the localized website layout offline.
Once the staging site is ready, the team will perform a complete QA of the localized website. This includes:
- Checking for translation, spelling, and grammatical errors
- Evaluating the design layout, text formatting, and localized images
- Testing drop-down menus, buttons, contact forms, and other site functionality
After the Online QA, the website is ready for you to review. If you notice errors or would like to make any changes, you can offer feedback at this stage.
The localization team will make any changes you requested after your first review.
Review and acceptance
At this stage, you’ll complete a final review and provide sign-off.
The localization team will either compile and bundle the localized files or send the final files directly to the CMS via a translation integration of API. Then, your web development team or agency can launch the new multilingual website.
How Acclaro can help
Although website localization is a long, complex process, it more than pays for itself in the long run. However, it can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, we have the expertise to help you develop a custom website localization solution that captures your brand voice in any language. We’ve partnered with some of the world’s largest brands to bring their vision to life–and we’re ready to partner with you.
Want to launch in a new market? Contact us to get started!