The benefit of the world wide web is that it is world wide. Users can connect with individuals from all across the globe. The internet has provided unique opportunities for bridges to be built between nations, cultures, and languages. However, to optimize connection and communication over the web, one must localize their website content.
Website localization is the process of not only translating website language, but formatting the website to a specific culture. There are a variety of subtleties in language and culture that can be easily overlooked if one is not cautious. A word-for-word translation of your website might be understood by international users, but the message conveyed might not be what you were trying for. Localization of your website helps boost your traffic from audiences from all over the world.
However, in order to effectively localize your content, you must first define what kind of website you have. There are seven main categories: informational, content, community, eCommerce, brand, online service, and social media.
Informational: An informational website could be considered something like a blog or a news website. The localization needed for this kind of website can be content related as well as language related. News content that is important in the United States may not be as relevant in Chile. Localizing this kind of site requires a knowledge of what kind of news matters elsewhere, and providing that news or information.
Content: A content site is a platform for different types of content like music, videos, games, etc. In order to be successful, these kind of sites must localize their content to be relevant to their audience. A game that is enjoyed by people in Japan might not interest people in Denmark. While some of the content can stay standard, (there is some music that is popular almost everywhere, for example) there needs to be individualized content for each audience.
Community Site: Community sites are forum based. These tend to have the need for a lot more localization than other types of sites. Because some forums and communities tend to be specific to the social needs of their area, they need to be formatted as such. Conversely, there are communities that cross borders in idea, but still need localization/translation to be understood.
eCommerce: eCommerce sites, also known as retail sites, need a strong localization in order to succeed. The purpose of eCommerce sites is to make money off of products. Therefore, those products need to be marketed differently for each audience that will be viewing the site. The layout of the site must be formatted to appeal to the buying tendencies of each target market.
Brand: Brand sites are the platform for a company to provide information about their services. Also called brochure sites, these websites must clearly define a company’s services while still appealing to the interests of different kinds of audiences and cultures.
Online Service: Online service sites tend to be on the more technical side. They often provide downloadable content for consumers. On these sites, it is important for instructions to be clear both in language and in usage. Explaining how to download an item to an individual from the UK might be different than explaining to an individual from the Middle East. In order for the site to be successful, it must be localized to accommodate the needs of both.
Social Media: Social media sites are extremely popular. These kind of sites include Facebook, Twitter, etc. Social media sites must be generic enough for all kinds of users to post original content, but localized enough to appeal to different cultures.
Localization is key for the success of any website. However, each type of website calls for a different level or kind of localization. As soon as you can determine the kind of website that you have or that you are creating, the closer you are to bridging the gap between languages and cultures.
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