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Localisation means making the necessary design changes so that products are culturally and technically suited for the target culture. Internationalised software is adapted for a specific region or language by adding locale-specific components and translating text.
Let’s take J.K Rowling’s character for example. Many people know him as “You know who”, right? Well no, in Germany he is “Du weißt schon wer”.
In some places around the globe, users click the “Me gusta” button on Facebook. So, localisation means making the UI feel truly local, as if it was designed in that country, city or region.
So let’s look more into localisation and how to prepare a site for users from any language, any culture, anywhere.
Fact #1: “Don’t make me think”
If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s the name of Steve Krug’s book. He begins his book by saying that what he does “is just common sense, and anyone with some interest can learn to do it”. Still, if we look at statistics, over 56% of the websites are only available in English, so how is this for not making the users think?
“If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.” by Willy Brandt, West German political leader.
Nelson Mandela once said, “If you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” So it’s more than just being polite, because this will help you improve their experience on your website.
In an eight country survey, 72.4% of consumers said they’re more likely to purchase if a website is in their native language. This happens because if you make people think in a foreign language, they might not even bother to do so.
So yes, if you want their experience to not go downhill, just do it. Localise.
Fact #2 Clean writing
If you choose to translate the content, you have to do it often. It’s not just a one time thing. Users won’t see your website as a translated version. It will be the only version for them, so don’t make them feel like “second-rate” users, because they will hate it. They won’t like seeing English text suddenly popping out of nowhere after a website update. Good localisation may boost conversion rates, but bad or partial translation may ruin an otherwise good user experience.
To quote Steve Krug, “We know we don’t need to read everything. On most pages, we’re really only interested in a fraction of what’s on the page.” Users scan the page, they look for the bits that match with their interests and when they don’t find it, they leave.
Let’s say you’re translating your website in Portuguese. Yes, Portugal and Brazil speak the same language, but it varies from country to country. That is why, if you translate strings, never treat them in isolation. Even if they are translated alright, they might not match the context. Also, it might help localising for regions, not languages.
Fact #3 Things that are related logically are also related visually
Localising a website doesn’t mean just translating the content, it’s about changing everything like images, icons, colours, navigation, not just words. Some cultures read from left to right, some do it from right to left and some read in multiple directions depending on the context. It makes sense to change the position of the “Back” and “Forward” buttons if your user is navigating from right to left.
Navigation reveals content. And revealing the site may be even more important than guiding or situating us. If navigation is good, you will be aware of where to begin and what your options are and since most users ignore or avoid instructions, this is what you want. Also, it gives users confidence in the people who built the website.
To wrap things up, we should look at the numbers. 73 percent of internet users don’t speak English as a native language. It may be their second language, but the future hints at a personalised online experience, tailored to cultural sensitivities. Take time to research your users in order to produce a localised culturally-adapted site, specifically designed for that audience.
Author: Crista Oiegas