Thursday, October 24, 2013
Website localisation can be either a simple, straightforward process or a mammoth project requiring a full-time project manager. Website localisation often requires translation services. Each website localisation process is unique. Having the information up front and understanding the process can help the project enormously. Here are some issues you may wish to consider in your planning.
It is important to pose some key questions:
What is your objective in translating and localising your website?
Who is the audience, and into what language do you wish to localise?
Begin your project by analysing requirements and specifications:
Extract a site map.
Perform word counts by page (this helps to provide an understanding of the size of the project).
Remember to include website code (titles, metatags, descriptions, and alt text for images).
For large websites, prioritise and sequence the work so that key pages and sections are live sooner.
Involve all necessary stakeholders, and identify the review and sign-off personnel. There needs to be one ultimate approval person.
Make a schedule of the entire process in order to finish your project on time.
You must ensure that your website translation has successfully dealt with all linguistic and cultural barriers that may have arisen during the process. The vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and style of the translation must be in line with the social and cultural environments of the local communities.
You should be very careful when using idioms, phrases, and metaphors in the new language.
Your source is vitally important. All too often, the source text is unclear or incorrect and will compromise the target language. Review your source text prior to localisation; this will save a lot of reworking.
Modification of Website Navigation and Layout
The website translation will most likely affect the layout of the website as well. The layout may need to be modified according to the target country.
You should consider the user experience (UX) of target audiences when modifying the website’s navigation, such as top to bottom, right to left, and the presentation of web pages.
Not all pages may require localisation. Often, only certain information will require modification for a particular country. Careful evaluation of what is actually required will save time and money in the long run.
Cross-Cultural Assimilation of Pictures Used in the Website
Pictures convey very strong messages. You can convey any message, whether ordinary or sensitive, by using pictures.
Pictures should be carefully modified to positively express your company’s message while respecting the cultural background of the local community.
Insufficient understanding of the target community’s cultural background can risk your company’s credibility by creating negative impressions of your products and by possibly even offending the target audience.
Pictures should reflect the local people and communities. For example, a typical house in Mongolia mostly likely will look different from a house in Fiji.
Cross-Cultural Assimilation of Symbols Used in the Website
Just like pictures, symbols can also create barriers to communication. Symbols can connote entirely different meanings in different cultural environments.
The marketing strategy of localisation must incorporate symbols and pictures appropriate to each particular culture.
The localisation process should translate symbols pertaining to currency, numbering systems, measurement units, time and date display, and fonts according to the norms of the local country or region.
Cross-Cultural Assimilation of Colours Used in the Website
Many people are not aware that colours can also have cultural implications, and therefore need to be applied according to the norms of the targeted audiences.
The use of appropriate colours can help limit misunderstandings or hidden connotations and increase your website’s acceptability. It is important not to offend should there be some subtle, unwanted identifications with particular colours.
Testing and Quality Evaluation
The testing process is important during a website localisation project. The functional testing ensures that localised sites function as their English versions, and that all links incorporated into the localised site function properly.
The linguistic testing ensures that localised sites don’t contain any inappropriate translations, and that the consistency of the translation is maintained across the website.
In testing prior to launch, translators check to ensure that all tabs and buttons fit in their current spaces. Some languages have much longer words than English, and in website translation, buttons and tabs often need adjustments to size or word choice.
When moving from a test environment to a live site, a review of the entire website is always required. Frequently, slight revisions in wording are necessary to provide that final polish.
Website development technology is continually improving and innovating, and therefore it is imperative that businesses hire the right professionals to manage their databases and web applications.
A website’s file formats should be properly analysed, translated, and engineered in the localised website in order to ensure maximum quality and minimum time lag in the entire process.
Most current content management systems for websites will provide a decent platform for localised content.
Successful business expansion and an effective international presence requires extensive market research and strategic planning.
Businesses should continuously strive for improvement by incorporating feedback from various sources such as SNS, website comments, statistics, and so forth.
It is important for businesses to improve by vigorously acting upon existing problems.
Websites need to be dynamic, and a strategy should be in place to manage updates, including updates to the translated content.
The Cost Factor
Website localisation is generally not a simple and straightforward process, and most website localisation requires a significant investment. But a successfully localised website is a gateway to international business domination through the creation of new local markets in a country or region.
An expert website designer, a professional team of linguists, and cross-cultural understanding are the three most important factors in website localisation. You must ensure that these factors are all managed effectively in order to achieve maximum results from your globalisation strategy.
It’s time to plan for your website localisation—in terms of continuously growing sales turnovers compared with initial investment, there is no more rewarding marketing strategy.
Karen Hodgson, CEO of Translationz
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