In a world ever more digitalized, the Internet managed to take, in a few decades only, a central role in everyone’s everyday life. It became a staple of our civilization, whether it is for personal or professional use. In this context, if you own a website, you may have to choose at some point if you want to translate it or not. But the answer to this question might not be as obvious as it sounds! Moreover, translating websites called localization, is a process with a heterogeneous nature, which varies according to the nature of the website, its objectives but also to the budget people wish to allocate it.
What’s a website?
This question might sound trivial, but trust me it’s actually not. It is of an extreme importance to know the different types of websites to make sure your localization is adapted to the needs of the page and the public visiting it. There are static websites (pre-set HTML pages) and dynamic websites (HTML pages that are built as the web user consults it). The update and the interactivity are strong advantages for dynamic websites, and their localization into different languages can be technically easier. Therefore, it is necessary to internationalize the website as a preliminary step to localization: it is all about building a multilingual architecture. Take note that the nature of the website changes the perspective on its translation. A company portal won’t be localized the same way as a commercial website, an online magazine or a government website.
Why localize a website?
There are many reasons for localizing a website, and the advantages are real. Most of all, a website translated into various languages will attract more visitors. For a commercial website, the opportunity to increase its number of clients must be taken. Adapting a website to the culture of different countries is the door to new markets. A website in various languages will look more trustworthy and emphasize the company image. According to a study led but Transifex, a platform of digital products localization, 52.7% of users give more importance to the description of a product if it is in their native language rather than the price of the product itself. Likewise, 72.1% of web users spend more time on a website in their mother tongue. Finally, on a strictly economic point of view, for every euro invested in the localization of the website, the return on investment will be around 20€.
The different levels of localization
The localization can be partial or total according to the targeted language. Budget constraints, deadlines and importance of the local market are equally important factors. Thus, five major levels of localization are distinguished:
1. Standardized website: the content is the same for all users, regardless of the country and language. It is the lowest level of localization.
2. Partially localized website: the contact page only is localized. The localization is limited.
3. Localized website: the majority of the content and of the website pages has been localized, but the structure and the original functions haven’t been changed. There is one translation per country and the URL remains the same.
4. Highly localized website: all of the content and the structure are adapted. The URL is specific to each country and the content varies according to each one of them.
5. Culturally adapted website: total localization, with a complete immersion into the target culture. Perceptions, symbolisms, and specificities are respected. This level of localization remains nevertheless pretty rare but adapts perfectly to big international companies. It is the best way to translate a website.
Translating a website has become a major challenge to overcome for every company willing to open to the international market. Even though at first the investment in time and money (knowing that you do need a website language translator) can seem pretty heavy for some people and their budget, the benefits of it are so positive they are totally worth it.