Surely, website localization is the sphere where you may easily get lost in translation. The Net is full of translated websites that are mere “copies” of the original page. Such webpages harm the business. On the other hand, the accurately translated page looks like it was designed and written by a native speaker. Without a doubt, the users value content that goes along with great design features.
A perfect website is something simple, intuitively understood, and reliable. However, these notions differ from culture to culture. People read and perceive web design differently. So, how to adjust your website to your audience’s needs? Here are some tips to make a great website design localization.
What gives localization?
Before delving into the details of the site localization and design, let’s look at the benefits that can be derived from this and whether it is worth undertaking this business at all. The most obvious plus of localization is an increase in the loyalty of those user groups who prefer to perceive information in their native language. As we can see from the statistics, the percentage of such users in non-English-speaking countries is very high.
Of course, it is important to consider the general level of English proficiency in a particular country. For example, if the audience of your site is in Sweden or Denmark, then most likely you can get by with the English version because, in these countries, the majority of the population knows English well. If you want to reach users in China, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia, then you should already think about the translation. An idea of the level of English proficiency in a particular country can be obtained from open sources, for example, from this study.
Another nice consequence of localizing a site in several languages is improving the brand image. A multilingual site evokes thoughts that your company, at a minimum, can afford it and thus takes care of customers. In the event that your company is positioned as international, the local language versions of the site go into the category of basic necessities.
What is responsive web design?
If you are creating a website, you should be aware that your viewers can access it from various devices with different screen sizes. A growing number of web browsers using mobile phones or tablets to view web pages.
In the example below, the website was designed to respond to user requests. As you can see, the layout and content adapt to the display according to the size and resolution of the screen.
If your site does not respond, the content will not be well placed on a screen with limited screen size. Therefore, it is important that the layout of the web page can be adapted to fit the device.
The goal is not only to make them flexible but also adaptive to the device that makes your web pages viewable. Screen size is a major factor, but there are other considerations such as display pixel density, touch screen, etc. The goal should be to create a website that will work well on any device, regardless of the size of the viewing area, resolution, and how the user interacts with it. You need to plan and create the layout, media, and even navigation for maximum usability on every device.
Design Features that you Should Localize
Here are some facts: Western people read websites according to the F-shaped pattern. That means, they read a website from left to right. At the same time, they focus on the left side. Therefore, Western developers put all the necessary information in the left part. However, in Arabic countries, that doesn’t work. People there read from right to left. So, when you create a localized layout, think about the cultural code of the target language.
Graphics are important. What is good for your culture, may be inappropriate for the other. For example, integrating the image of a woman in shorts may be offensive for the Arab version of your website, while for the American one, it may be just great. Also, have in mind that colors have different symbolics. Thus, they have to be used with caution when you localize your website. For example, in China, red is a color often used for wedding celebrations. So, when you insert a bride image for a Chinese version of your website, be sure to make her dress red.
Unicode fonts contain a large number of letters, characters, numbers and other elements for displaying texts in different languages. Examples of popular fonts that support Unicode are Arial and Times New Roman. Avoid unicode fonts to make your site easier to translate into other languages.
There are many special characters in any world language, which may be accents or unique letters. The overall number of these items may count up to 110,116 in modern languages. Thus, the problem that web designers often have is the display of various letters. Although you did not plan that from the very beginning, you may have to encode your website to have a chance to add any characters. The UTF-8 system works well in most cases, but you might need UTF-16 for Asian languages.
When developing sites that are to be localized, use adaptive design and adaptive layout methods. In addition, make sure that all elements containing text are able to resize. Usually in different languages the same text has different lengths. English is a compact language, in other languages the text is usually longer. A simple rule – plan the possibility of increasing the text by at least 30%. Different sources advise benchmarks from 20% to 50%, but my experience suggests that 30% is usually enough.
Have you ever seen a sentence written in Chinese or Arabic? It certainly takes a different amount of space than Latin characters. Still, some European languages are tricky. For example, German words may be half a line long, especially when it comes down to numbers. So, apart from Isaccurate, you will need accurate design choices. For instance, you cannot have italics in such language as Japanese, which limits your expressive and design capacities. To localize correctly, you should plan your web content to be adjustable and flexible.
Today, the websites are localized for use both on the computer screen, tablets, and mobile phones. So, take the time to check how the features mentioned above influence your smartphone website design. As people widely use smartphones, this is an essential part of your localization.
If you are an online shop, think about payment methods and details that are habitual to your target audience. For example, PayPal is the most convenient way to pay in many countries, so integrating it into the website is a plus. Still, in such countries as Turkey, this way of payment is unattainable. In certain areas, people prefer paying by card. The cards are also different. Certain states such as Brazil widely use paying in installments. So, here you are to provide it.
Multilingual Website & The Right Design
Are you developing a site that is available in only one language? If so, there can be only one reason for this: you are only interested in your local market. But if this is not the case in a globalized world, is there a need for a multilingual site? Yes, and there are many reasons:
- You are creating a multilingual website offering products or services in the global market.
- Your site is mainly based on information, and you need to display content in different languages.
- Your country has several official languages or a population speaking different languages.
- You have legal obligations to submit content in several languages, for example, in government agencies.
- You are developing a multilingual website for a company with an international brand presence.
The developer of multilingual sites should understand and appreciate the linguistic diversity, not only verbally, but also in writing! A font that works well with one language can be a disaster for another language. Therefore, the choice of design features will affect the localization of your site and, as a result, your global brand.
Website design localization allows you to promote your product, service, or company worldwide. Globalization made the whole world an integrative digital marketplace. That is why redesigning your site to fit local needs is essential. If you have your website in only one language, you may cover 30% of the world population at most. Sure, translation of the site’s content is essential. But do not forget about the visual and user interface convenience.
Thus, cultural awareness is a plus. Be sure to include relevant images, proper colors, and interactive layout to reach your target audience. Also, think carefully about space and characters, as they may differ significantly.
About the Author!
Henry Mcdowell is a freelancer who specializes in web content writing, copywriting, and editing. He is an advisor to many online businesses that he helps to improve. Also, Henry is keen on writing his own novels and playing sports.