Do Businesses Need Website Localization Services?

By: Armando Riquier

Roughly 65% of all who surf the Internet, speak a language other than English which reminds that an English only website is possibly missing thousands of daily visitors. Depending on the website's concentration, this may or may not carry importance. However, If the site sells anything, it's probably most important and necessary. This same idea actually fits for all websites in a sole language, targeted to a single ethnic group. Websites in English are often used as examples to demonstrate the importance of website localization because it's a resounding reminder that not even a language as international as English can escape being on the Internet's back burner sometimes. What can a business do to establish itself in foreign markets? Basically, the two things that are required are an e-commerce ready site and website localization/globalization which is a multistage process involving many more things than just translation.

Adding Up The Costs

It's conceivable that translation mistakes can do a website more harm than good. When the automotive enterprise, American Motors, opted to market the Matador, a quite costly error was committed. They wanted to give the car an image of courage and strength. However, in Puerto Rico, 'Matador' means 'killer'. Given the dangerous road conditions on the island, a 'killer' car was not anything that would be welcomed. Competent website localization shields against such expensive and disheartening failures.

Tearing Down The Barriers

It must be repeated just how important it is to be accustomed with the culture of a website's targeted audience. What dialect do they speak? What is the average age represented? What is their main religion? Do most of them have a college degree? Not all of the questions will need responses. However, if the business sells books of all genres, the targeted audience will be diverse if the culture is of the Western hemisphere. Most countries in the West maintain a very high literacy rate. Therefore, in the case of website localization for a bookstore, selection of dialect probably doesn't need to be given much thought. The most neutral form of the language should be employed. In the case of non-profit organizations that often target specific nations, dialect becomes a concern.

Surprisingly, even incorrect choices of colors, images and symbols, can destroy a website localization campaign. How can this occur? Suppose a clothing store desires to market their apparel in the Muslim world. Now suppose that they're promoting a special on bikinis and exhibit photographic images of girls in bikinis on their site. Their web pages may be flawlessly translated, linguistically speaking, but it would put off the vast majority of the targeted audience. Many Arabs, disdainfully frown on the lack of modesty in dress characteristic in the West among both genders.

True website localization will also tackle the scripting issues of translation. For instance, if a site is slated to be conformed for a Chinese-speaking audience, its structure will probably have to be redone. Chinese as well as Japanese, is a language written from top to bottom.

These points figure only among a few of those that must be considered for website localization projects that get results.

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