Why Website Localisation is Important for International Business

Website localisation is essential for reaching a global audience. If you’re planning on expanding into foreign markets, the importance of localising your company’s website cannot be overstated. Here’s why:

Word-for-word translations aren’t always enough

Website localisation is the translation your website needs. Word-for-word translations aren’t enough if you want audiences to actually understand your messages.

The world is full of so many different types of languages, spoken in varying numbers. So, it is no wonder why some languages can not be translated directly. Word use, colloquial terms and phrasing won’t have the same meaning if translated directly.

When expanding to an international audience, you need to be at least as good as the worst site in that language, and that means making your site readable and relatable in the native language. “Localisation takes into account more than just the language” say Global Voices who cite the simple differences in breakfast between France (where it could be an espresso and croissant) and China (where it might be baozi) to illustrate how there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” translation.

Knowledge of local culture helps avoid cultural faux pas

Potential translation faux pas are not limited to just the language. Many businesses falsely assume that they don’t need access to knowledge of the local culture. These businesses are, however, woefully mistaken. But even something as seemingly trivial as the colour of your website can mean completely different things from culture to culture.

For example, one dialect of regional Spanish can be quite different from another. The California Milk Processor Board found this out too late, out much to their dismay. While the now classic ‘Got milk?’ adverts were exceptionally successful in The United States, with their depictions of popular celebrities with milk mustaches, they didn’t fare so well in Mexico. Where their unlocalised, word-for-word translation of ‘Got milk?’ unfortunately read to the locals as ‘Are you lactating’. This message, needless to say, missed the mark with its target audience.

When looking at website localisation, you should also consider the colours in your branding. While purple has connotations of decadence in Japanese and Western / American cultures, in South American cultures, it is the colour associated with mourning. So if you’re planning on doing business in Brazil’s booming economy, you would be wise to steer clear of any purple in your branding; unless you’re looking to open an international chain of funeral homes that is.

Localisation builds brand loyalty

As Business.com so aptly put it, “as customers become savvier and the competition begins to heat up, it’s clearer than ever that delivering a generalized, translated version of your site isn’t going to go down well with the locals.”

If your competitors are willing to offer their international audiences a version of their website in a language tailored specifically to their location, that’s the least you should offer. Proper website localisation, over direct translation, could even put you ahead of competitors who think that word-for-word is close enough.

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