At least 350.
That's the number of languages spoken in U.S. homes, according to the United State's Census Bureau. The Linguistic Society says there are nearly 7,000 languages spoken around the world.
This probably explains why so many companies are investing in website localization.
Localizing your website is the process of taking your existing site and adapting it to align with the languages and cultures where your customers live. It could mean taking a site that's written in English and transitioning it to Spanish. Or it could mean updating images to better reflect the look and feel of countries far away from your headquarters.
It always requires translation services.
Localizing your website makes good business sense. It can help your company connect with new customers, builds your brand and can drive sales.
But before you jump in and start deconstructing your site, take a look at these eight questions to ask yourself:
1) Why do you want to localize?
Before you hire a translation services provider and start scouring your hard drive for culturally appropriate pictures, make sure you understand why you want to localize.
Are you aiming to increase your conversion rate to drive short-term profits? Or are you planning to expand your long-term reach and build your brand? Maybe it's both?
Understanding what you hope to accomplish will help you develop a successful plan and inform the decisions you make about how much to invest in the process.
2) How will you define success?
If you're interested in increasing your conversion rate, success will be defined by a percentage increase. On the other hand, if you're looking to build your brand, success may be measured by a combination of unique user visits, time spent on the site and conversions.
3) Who do you need to bring to the (virtual) table?
Localizing a website isn't for the feint of heart. You'll need market research, cultural competency, translation services, and people who understand your products, services and brand standards.
Knowing what in-house resources are available and which external partners you'll need will help you develop an accurate budget.
4) What is your timeline?
To answer this question, you need to know your website inside and out. It takes a significant amount of time to translate an entire site and ensure that it's accurate and sensitive to local cultures.
A professional translator can typically complete 10 pages a day. An in-house translator will likely be half as fast. But quality and consistency take time, so make sure you set realistic expectations.
5) Who will you hire for translation services?
It's important to make sure that your site is translated in a way that makes sense to the people who live in the market to which you are trying to expand.
It often involves nuance, touch and an understanding of what's going on in the market.
And while you can hire a local (to the new market) translation services provider, it does come with a tradeoff--more challenges managing the project, different time zones, etc.--and can make managing the project incredibly challenging.
There are U.S. based translation services providers who have the skill, experience, and cultural competency to deliver what you need without all the hassles.
6) Do you need a different infrastructure?
People around the world experience the internet differently
. Wireframes that work well in the United States don't necessarily work as well in other parts of the world.
You'll need to make sure that your navigation and site structures are in line with what people in other countries expect to see when they visit websites. This will involve research as well as working with translation services providers who are familiar with the cultures to which you are trying to expand.
7) What system will work best for you?
Luckily, there are several web localization solutions available. You can configure the infrastructure in three different ways:
- A hands-off approach, in which you use a proxy solution that allows you to focus only on your master language content.
- An enterprise-level translation services management system that is integrated directly into your content management system.
- A hybrid solution that uses a combination of the hands-off approach and enterprise-level management system.
Many companies find that it is easier to go with a full-service translation services solution that offers technology support, process and project management, and expert language translation services.
Which is right for you will likely depend on your goals, budget, availability of in-house talent and timeline.
8) How do you find a partner?
Unless your company is a large, multi-national organization with an abundance of in-house talent and people on the ground in the markets to which you are trying to expand, you are probably going to need a partner.
The question is where to find one.
Start by looking for transcribers who are easily accessible, guarantee data security and have a stellar accuracy rate.
Then make sure they have thousands of happy customers and a lot of experience.
A multilingual web presence is crucial for the growth of your company. It helps in expanding your business and creates a positive effect on brand building, conversion rate and revenue. So it's important to have a clear picture of what you expect from your website localization process. Keep all these above factors in mind while planning your localization project so you can achieve your goals on time and within budget.
Hope this helps you successfully implement and handle your next website localization project!
If you have asked and been answered these eight questions and are ready to get started, get in touch with us today to discuss any specific needs!