So, you want to start promoting your website to other international markets? The process of web localisation - that is, making different versions of your website available in different locations - is an in depth one, and before leaping into it, you really need to have a strategy. Which countries do you want to localise your site for? Do you need to translate content, or just change things like currencies? How will you manage the different versions of your content? These are just some of the questions your strategy needs to answer.
Doing your research, both in terms of how to effectively perform site localisation and in terms of the new markets you’ll be putting your site into, is key to forming a truly coherent strategy. Here are three areas to look into in depth before you finalise your approach:
Is Your Content All Applicable?
You may think that localising will simply mean translating some content, or, if you are localising between English speaking countries, just switching out some UK spelling for its US equivalents. This is not always the case. As well as language from a technical perspective, you need to also consider more nuanced things about your content.
If you have content that talks about concepts that don’t really fit with your new market, then you’ll need to change it or not include it in your localised version of the site. A lot of this can be cultural, because even everyday things can differ a lot between countries. Your UK centric parenting article may talk about things like school uniforms, which many countries don’t have, or suggest doing things as a family on Saturdays (in many European countries, kids go to school on Saturday). Simple things like this can make your content hard for your new audience to relate to, so make sure you fully research your new target markets in terms of the things you are talking about on your site.
Currencies, and Units of Measurement
Even if you aren’t selling anything, chances are you mention prices or money somewhere in your content, so you’ll need to know the currencies where you are localising for. It is also the case that in the UK we tend to use a bit of a weird mix of imperial and metric measurements, describing distances in miles like the Americans but measurements of food for recipes in grams like most of the rest of the world. Make sure you change the content to use the measurements your target market uses. And remember that the US imperial system is slightly different from the UK’s. A person’s weight, for example, is expressed in pounds, but America doesn’t use stones where the UK does.
Just because you have translated your content into Spanish, doesn’t mean it is now ready to apply to any versions of your site in Spanish speaking countries. Equally, your French for France may not be quite right for French speaking African countries. Localisation is not translation. If you want to truly engage with people in different countries and win their business, you need to properly tailor the site to them, not just their language.
When you are ready to get started having fully researched your target countries and what needs to be done to your country, it is time to work through a good website localisation guide to plan how to actually create your new site versions!