Understanding the differences between translation and localization will help you to find the services you need to adapt your business’ website to other markets. Your goals and the type of content you have will determine the best option for you.
What does translation involve?
Let's start by looking at translation. When you hire this type of service, you are paying to have the content on your website written in another language. This means that the text will be returned exactly as is; a literal translation of the content will be performed and no adaptations will be made to cater to any specific culture.
Likewise, translation does not imply any adaptation of the website design to the new content, which may leave the website misaligned. For example, when translating from Spanish to Japanese, the resulting text may be much shorter and may therefore occupy less space.
When translating websites with extensive content, many people opt for machine translation. However, subsequent editing or revision could improve the final result in these cases, minimizing the errors made by the artificial intelligence program.
What is localization?
Unlike translation, localization serves to adapt content to a specific target region. It goes without saying that consumers want to see a website or mobile application in their language of preference out of convenience. Despite this, consuming digital products like these in a given language implies not only translating their contents, but also the technical specifications, chatbots, legal notices, banners, and navigation errors. All with the main goal of respecting the original formats yet adapting them to the particularities of the language and countries in question. This adaption takes into account the target culture and various other details. Let's take a look at them.
THE LOCAL CURRENCY
Take for example the localization of a website in English. Depending on the company’s target markets, this process may require at least two different currencies: the American dollar and the British pound. It may even be necessary to adapt the website to cater to other currencies like the euro or the Australian dollar. A large number of English-speaking countries use different currencies, which must obviously be taken into account.
This is a very important detail that depends on the economic activity you carry out. When taken seriously, you can avoid possible legal consequences. Returning to the previous example, the data protection policy in the United Kingdom, for example, is similar to that of the EU, while the American policy is completely different.
This takes into account an adaptation from a commercial perspective: the idea is to have the user identify with the website on a cultural level. If you are translating your website for the United Arab Emirates, for example, you’ll want to ensure that the models in the photos meet the culturally acceptable codes of modesty in terms of clothing. The same concept should be extended to other particularities of the target culture and society.
UNITS OF MEASURE AND SIZES
Again, you need to adapt the units of measure to the system used in the target country. This will assist potential customers when making decisions and will prevent conversion mistakes and, consequently, higher numbers of returns.
Size equivalences are particularly sensitive, as each country has its own system. To paint a picture, just in terms of clothing, there are letters (S, M, L, XL), the English system (8, 10, 12, 14), the Spanish system (36, 38, 40, 42), and the American system (4, 6, 8, 10), among many others. Make sure you know how to analyze the markets where you want to sell your products.
Determining which is the most used payment method in each country will help you to boost sales and eliminate barriers. In China, it is common to pay with a mobile device, using a QR code, while in the USA and Europe, credit cards and PayPal continue to dominate for now.
In summary, website localization takes the translation to another level, allowing you to adjust the content to the specific country or culture you want to target with your business. Paying heed to details like these could make the difference between success and failure in your process of internationalization.