Tips for Website Localization

What is the Secret to Successful Website Localization?

December 15, 2014

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The real test of success in website localization is whether the company is able to expand into new markets. In a sense, a website is the face of your company: if it is simply translated word-for-word, the language will be awkward and leave a bad impression with your customers, which in turn could deliver a devastating blow to sales.

So, then, what do you need for successful website localization? In this article we will take a look at the secrets to successful localization.

Creative Translation Wins the Hearts of Customers

People unfamiliar with translation tend to think that it is simply a matter of changing the words of one language into another. But localizing a website requires more than just translation. It involves creatively adapting the messages to the target market.

Specifically, this means the translator must consider the culture of the people that use the target language, and possess the vocabulary and insight to be able to adapt idioms understood only in your country into expressions used in the target language without losing too much of the original nuance.

Usability: a Little Consideration Goes a Long Way!

When localizing a website, there are several elements besides translation you have to keep in mind.

For example, let's say you are localizing a Japanese site for an English speaking audience. When translating directions to the company's office or the contact page you have to make sure to add "Japan" to the address. And not providing clear, detailed directions from a nearby airport and/or main train stations may negatively impact the customers' impression of the company.

In the same way, whether you add the country code for Japan (+81) to the telephone number may affect the number of inquiries you receive by phone.

It is also worth noting that in Japan addresses are written in a reverse order from that of Western addresses. So if the contact form of the Japanese site is used as-is, it could cause confusion for English speaking customers.

This is why in-depth understanding of the target customers' culture is essential in localizing websites.

Taking into Account the Browsing Environment is also Important

Websites that can be navigated without any issues in Japan may not enjoy the same viewing speed in other countries. Depending on the country, websites with features like Flash animation may take too long to load. When creating a content-rich site with a large number of images and videos, you need to pay due consideration to Internet connection speed. In order to build a website that can be viewed normally on a wide variety of Internet environments, researching and understanding the environment of the target market is crucial.


Effective website localization requires more than just changing the words into the language of the target market; you also need to be intimately familiar with the culture that uses the target language. In terms of usability, the key to increasing demand is to keep in mind that, to your customers, your country is the foreign country.

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