Taking Your Website Global: Translation vs. Localization

Globalization and the ability to easily connect to the internet from79476476_d16c67ff9a_m almost anywhere in the world is making the English language less of a standard for websites. Many U.S. companies gain as much as 50 percent of their revenue from international sales, and they could not achieve this without reaching out to target consumers in a manner that they can understand with the help of a website translation service.

To maximize international profits, website translation must involve more than just converting a word in English to another language. Instead, business translation must integrate localization in order to maximize a company’s reach as well as prevent costly and embarrassing mistakes.


Translation is a process that converts written text into a different language. It is more than a word-for-word, literal interpretation; instead, a good translation is an accurate rendition of the original text that maintains not only the language’s grammatical rules but the culture’s style and nuance. Companies often use business translation for legal documents, manuals, policies or technical publications.


Localization takes business translation a step further. While a business translation may use words that are literally correct, business translation with the integration of localization implements linguistic nuances to achieve the most accurate and relevant result, which is important for product labels and consumer safety. A localized business translation is more culturally sensitive, so it better targets the local market.

A website translation service that also uses localization delivers a product that is culturally acceptable and reads as if a local individual produced the materials. When localizing a website, the website translation service takes into consideration a target culture’s units of measurement, local currencies, typeface, accepted colors, number formats, date formats and the use of graphics.

Localization is particularly important in website translation when a company uses puns, marketing materials and idiomatic expressions. For example, the Chinese equivalence of the saying, “like father, like son” is “tigers do not breed dogs.” While the words are not the same, the connotation remains intact. Business translations that use localization also take into account geographic factors, the names of products and the cultural appropriateness of slogans or taglines.

Essential Components of Localizing a Website
Localization in website translation should include culturally minded videos, advertisements, manuals and marketing materials. Localization leads to international revenue enablement, which a website translation service can achieve through internationalization. Internationalization relates to the function within a website that allows it to operate and/or display in different languages. In addition to making the text on a site culturally appropriate, the website itself has a style sheet that can accommodate for text expansions, double-byte characters eastern countries may use, the ability to toggle between two different languages and fonts, and navigational and functional elements that take into consideration languages that read from right to left.

In addition to the localizing a website’s code and architecture, spelling and symbols are an important component to business translation. A handful of countries may speak the same language but spell words differently or use different words to describe the same thing. For example, a national insurance number in the U.K. and resident registration number in South Korea are the same as a Social Security number in the U.S. Some countries may use a period instead of a comma when formatting numbers or grouping digits, or use guillemets, or angle quotes, instead of double quotation marks.

To be accepted by an intended market, a company’s website translation must include website content localization, multimedia localization, SEO considerations, style localization and website structure localization in order to provide a rich user experience. When a website translation service implements localization successfully, the products and services offered will be viewed as an item that is more customer-minded, which can help increase the company’s bottom line.

[ photo by: tuppus, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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