Localization: Launching Global Websites
Bringing your business to another country often means doing business confronting a new language, new regulations, new risks but also new opportunities. While the transition into the unfamiliar might appear daunting at first, there are some best practices to follow for preparing your company to support a multilingual content strategy. This two-part blog series offers industry insights gleaned from the experiences of Lionbridge’s multi-national clients. This second post details the third and final step in our globalization checklist. For a breakdown of Step 1: Preparation and Step 2: Internationalization, be sure to check out our first blog post as well.
Step 3: Localization
The transition to the global stage requires both long-term and short-term planning. In order to define the scope of the launch process, it’s crucial to estimate and allocate a budget while setting schedules for goal development and completion. Having a global content strategy for the company will help to ensure you have defined metrics that can be tracked and measured.
Identifying the number of words and images requiring localization and preparing their respective source files are core tasks essential to expanding your website. By defining what needs to be and what doesn’t need to be available internationally, you can take the entirety of your company’s online resources and scale them down to a much more finite and manageable collection of assets.
For marketers, building a terminology glossary and preparing detailed instructions for translators can ensure that throughout every translation, key language essential to the narrative of your company and its brand remain intact. From a visual perspective, preparing a Style Guide also ensures a similar consistency throughout the localization process.
Keep in mind that it’s easy to get caught up in the importance of properly translating content, but equally as significant is the localization process. While translating is the first step to bringing content to an international audience, localization contextualizes the experience, essentially translating more than just the language but also the significance of the message itself.
Certain terminology you use, references you make – be they historical, pop culture, literary, or other – or even specific ways of thinking may be based more in your home culture than you even recognize. By utilizing native language experts for localization, the very meaning of your content is translated, not just the words themselves, so that the same message and tone, although in different languages around the world, can still communicate simultaneously and universally.
Most websites today consist of a complex network of different software that supports everything from marketing copy, to user-generated content, forums, e-commerce, among other applications. Knowing and distinguishing between these programs is crucial, as the best localization process for each type varies.
A centralized website management system such as a CMS (Content Management System) or PIM (Product Information Management) is also essential to ensuring a smooth, low cost localization effort. Selecting the right PIM or CMS can be tricky, you need to ensure the system you pursue has been properly internationalized. Content storage options, import and export capabilities and integrations with translation software are key features to consider in the selection process.
Following everything else, the localization process also includes the most commonly cited steps in the global website launch process: the actual translation of content - including editing as well as localizing graphics and reviews.
To ensure your company and all your hard work isn’t ultimately “lost in translation,” planning long-term post-launch is key. You should think of your translated website simply as an extension of your main site. Just as there is a core staff supporting your company’s content and customers, so too should you train in-country staff to support content and customers in every country you expand to, or at a minimum work with a company that can support you in this capacity.
This model will localize new content and replicate changes to existing content as needed. Also essential are periodic quality audits of translations to ensure an accurate and consistent presentation of your brand in the past, present and future.
Plan and partner for the right global content strategy
The best way to ensure you are delivering the most effective customer experience is to make sure your global content strategy is understood by everyone involved. Having a plan and a strong cloud-based content management system, such as Crownpeak, will help ensure you can be agile enough to keep up with customer demands.
You’ll also need to have marketing and translation partners to help execute the plan globally. Make sure that whomever you choose to partner with knows your content strategy, understands what you are trying to achieve and offers a set of technologies and services that are aligned. A better, more consistent customer experience will lead to faster time to market, increased customer engagement and ultimately increased revenue.
For more tips, pick up our report Benchmarking the Best Global Websites in the travel and hospitality industry.
Jason Hobart is Vice President of Digital and Channels at Lionbridge, the leading provider of globalization services that enable clients to develop, localize/translate, test, and maintain their enterprise content.