Global is the default mode online. If you’re on the internet, just about anyone in the world can connect to your company. There comes a time, though, when you’ll want to understand how to best serve customers in other countries, and what it takes to support native languages in those countries. It’s time for website localization!
In this article we’ll look at website localization myths uncovered and what the implications are for taking your business into other international markets online. As we examine these website localization myths uncovered, you’ll gain a better understanding of the necessary steps involved in getting you company on track for global growth online.
Without further ado, here are the top five website localization myths uncovered:
1. We don’t need website localization because most of the people in our target country speak English as a second language.
Relying on your customers to do translation work for you is a tremendous leap of faith. Studies have shown that even when foreign buyers speak English as a second language, and overwhelming number of them will prefer to buy from a native-language company.
2. Automated translation tools like Google Translate mean people can translate our English website themselves.
When you visit a foreign-language website, browsers like Google Chrome will automatically enlist Google Translate tools to ask visitors if they would like to translate the page. Isn’t this good enough for the online experience? In a word: no. While Google Translate might provide visitors with rudimentary information, the values and position you want to convey with your brand will undoubtedly be botched in automated machine translation. Human translations are the gold standard.
3. There’s nothing potentially offensive about our graphics.
Website localization is more than language! It involves checking images, iconography, color palettes, and web usability against cultural norms. Without a cultural understanding of how these elements will be interpreted in other countries, you can commit embarrassing (and even damaging) faux pas.
4. Our navigation and interface buttons are pretty universal and people will interpret them correctly in any language.
Again, this goes to localization. “Thumbs up” for “OK” or “Go” can come across as an obscene gesture in some cultures. “Red” doesn’t necessarily mean “stop” or “warning” in China… it could mean “lucky” and “press here.” You have to take the cultural implication of navigational and UI elements into account.
5. Online shopping is just about the same everywhere, so there’s nothing we’ll need to change about our shopping cart or checkout process.
You’d be surprised what instills trust in online shoppers in other countries. In Germany, a clean, balanced, minimal interface can encourage a purchase while in Japan, a side-scrolling busy cart can convey a plethora of options and customer support. You’ve also got to understand currency, shipping, name order, and other data entry conventions. Local testing and review of your localized shopping cart is essential.
With these website localization myths uncovered, hopefully your next project will sidestep the common costly pitfalls that hold companies back when they try to connect with international customers. Heed them and succeed!