When expanding your business overseas, the most effective first move to connect with the new market, is website localization. However, it may not be as easy or straightforward as what many businesses think. No major business decision is made without hurdles and expansion into new countries and regions will have their own set of unique obstacles.
Although the internet gives businesses the advantage of making it easier to penetrate new markets, meticulous and detailed strategic planning is still vital. CEOs and business owners taking their business global need to acquire deep understanding of the targeted market, competition, local market trends, culture, language, political and sensitive issues of the local government and society.
What has that got to do with website localization?
It has everything to do with website localization because all that information gathered from research needs to be translated and reflected in your website. When localizing a website, you will face issues with translation, design, user interface, functionality, readability, search engine optimization, cultural adaptation, and language sensitivity.
What may work locally may not work in other regions. Your website may work well locally but it may not connect well in the new market.
Website localization is a tedious process. It requires a lot of time, effort and commitment.
Let’s look at 3 major challenges businesses will face when it comes to website localization.
Language Barrier: Translation
People who don’t speak English will not buy from an English website. If you’re an English speaking person, and do not understand Swedish, would you buy from a Swedish website?
Translating your website from one language to another is not as simple as copying your text into Google Translate and pasting the translated text back into your new website. You need to know the culture and language of the country you are penetrating. You need to know their belief system and values.
Why translate the information on your website when the context of your website content does not attract nor connect with your new market?
The most effective way to localize your website in a new market, let’s say, Vietnam, is to either hire a local Vietnamese translator or engage a professional language solutions service provider that provides Vietnamese translation services from their pool of professional Vietnamese linguists.
Design Barrier: Images
Marketing collaterals that use images of a happy blond family will not convert to sales in China or the Middle East. People relate with images that they can connect and feel comfortable with. Local images have the power to build trust quicker than the typical foreign stock photos and this must be reflected on your website.
Nike, Airbnb, Evernote, and Louis Vuitton are just some of the many websites that do extremely well when it comes to website localization.
Don’t just translate the text on your website, translate the text in your images too.
Format: Characters And Readability
Character sets play an important role in website localization. Various language scripts have their own set of letters, symbols, and ideograms. For instance, character sets like English uses the Latin Alphabets while Chinese uses the logograms.
Readability plays a role just as important as character sets. Not all language scripts read from left to right. For instance, languages like Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and Urdu read from right to left. Hence, when localizing your website, the format and layout of your website must cater to the language script of the country you are expanding into.
Looking at these 3 challenges, it is by no means an exhaustive list of obstacles but these 3 challenges are the main basic criteria every business needs to be aware of before penetrating into new markets.
With so many issues and obstacles in website localization, it is a tedious and vital process that needs to be tackled. However, when done correctly, the potential for business growth and expansion is endless.
What is the best strategy to expedite website localization?
Simply put, you can hire a local professional translator and developer to create a brand new website, with translated content, new look and feel but that will take time and resources. One of the most efficient and logical way to expedite this tedious process is to engage a professional language solutions service provider that have been helping other businesses for many years and specialises in website localization, translation services, and website development.
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