Most are familiar with the phrase “Survey says…” from the television game show Family Feud. In the case of website localization, multiple surveys have shown that Internet users prefer to browse websites presented in their native tongue. Common Sense Advisory’s “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” report tells us that users are more likely to not only visit these sites, but also buy from or work with these businesses. Localizing a website leads to business growth. Your online presence will increase and expand beyond the English-speaking market.
Once the decision to localize your B2B website has been made, it is time to start planning. Of course, we recommend partnering with a translation company. (If you’re looking for the right fit, take a look at a previous post where we provide tips on choosing a translation company.) Once you find your partner, we also recommend involving them with the planning process. They’ve done this before and are well-versed in potential pitfalls (and how to best avoid them)! Here are a few tips to bring up when planning for B2B website localization.
Tip #1 – Check the code
Your system needs to be prepared for new content (in any language). Internationalization, in short, means designing or adjusting your software or website so that it can easily be adapted for multiple languages or regions of the world. This involves collaboration between your IT team and your translation partner. A few items to consider include:
- Displaying right to left content
- Displaying dates, times or currency (avoid hard coding these items)
- Allowing strings to grow and shrink to accommodate text expansion and contraction
- Displaying special characters (adopt Unicode, UTF-8)
- Displaying a particular language version (by a user’s IP address or browser setting)
Tip #2 – Check the images
A common tip for image localization, whether the deliverable is print or digital, is to avoid embedding text in images. If you do have images with embedded text, send source files to your translation partner so that their multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) team can properly localize.
Image choice is also important. Cultural consulting can be done by your translation partner to ensure that images are properly localized for different markets. You’ll want to make sure that images on your site will not offend a particular culture. Also, make sure images chosen relate to your target market.
Tip #3 – Organize your content
Organize website content; package all source files together. This includes your digital content, images, PDFs, and any other downloadable resources. If you have PDFs (such as whitepapers, catalogs, or other materials) locate your source design files for translation. Also – if your site has videos, plan on whether you will want these localized using subtitling or dubbing solutions. Or – do you want to record new videos for each target market? A properly mapped file manifest will also make it very easy to point to what needs to be translated and where files can be found. Mapping will also make it very easy to replace source content with translated materials.
Tip #4 – Plan a schedule
This is very important for updates. Updating your source content means that updates will need to take place on all language sites. If you have a schedule of planned updates for your site, it will allow for feedback from local reviewers and timely updates with your language translation partner. If your site is very dynamic, you may want to take a look at a translation proxy. (Here is some more information on this for you.)
Tip #5 – Plan for Consistent Content
Make sure your content is consistent and on-brand. This can be achieved through creation of a style guide and a glossary prior to the start of translation. Think of a style guide as a set of rules for your translation partner about your brand’s voice and the writing style of your content. This is not a guide for proper grammar, but rather a way to help linguists speak your brand’s language beyond conventional grammar and syntax rules. Your brand may also have terminology that is very specific to your company or industry. Therefore, you may want to establish preferred translations at the start.