The benefits of localization are undeniable. Companies that localize their digital content are in a better position to strengthen brand awareness, grow their user base, increase sales, boost profit, and the list goes on and on. Even with all these attractive benefits, it’s important not to lose sight of what localization really achieves: enhanced user experiences.
Localization is a means to an end. It enables businesses to have a friendly conversation with both potential and loyal customers in the customer’s native language; to share a story and provide a meaningful experience that resonates with the user. In order to make customers happy and give them something they can connect with and love, focus on these 7 elements for localization and start creating a more engaging, relevant, and positive online experience for your users.
1. Marketing Content
When prioritizing content for localization, marketing websites often rank at the top of the list, and for good reason. Your website is already available to users from all over the world, meaning you may already have international traffic. Some of these international users may know your website or company name, attracted to it because of a great product or service. Providing these customers (often with high intent to buy) with content in their own language allows them to engage with your website more intuitively, truly understanding your brand and thus creating the opportunity to turn them into brand advocates and a great source for referrals.
When determining what pages of your website to localize (if you must prioritize because you’re short on budget or resources and can’t localize every page), start with your top-level marketing pages – the pages that best communicate your brand, your main marketing message, and key information about your product or service. If you’re localizing a self-service site, using Google webmaster tools can, at a more granular level, help you understand which website pages are most popular, helping to identify which pieces of content should be prioritized when localizing. Google webmaster tools can also give you insight as to how customers interact with your site so that you understand what buyers are looking for in different regions.
A popular question that often comes up in regards to localizing marketing website content is whether or not companies should localize their blog. While there’s no right or wrong answer, it really comes down to your company’s individual global expansion goals, budget, and frequency of blog publishing. Many companies choose not to localize their blog right off the bat because they have a lot of dynamic content and are unable to support blog localization efforts until they’ve reached a more mature stage.
2. Support Content
Support content, which often includes your website’s FAQ section and help center, is sometimes considered part of your marketing website content and is prioritized among your top-level marketing pages and blogs. Yet it’s important to look at support content as a separate element because of how relevant and helpful this information can be to users.
Zendesk, the leading customer service software and support ticket system, has taken the idea that support content is one of the most beneficial types of content, creating software that focuses on highlighting the right support questions within a website so that users can enter a self-service flow through the site, resulting in increased customer satisfaction. Companies who go a step further and localize their support content are able to give users, no matter what language they speak, the ability to answer their own questions, see what other users are saying, and experience a greater sense of personalization, as if the website was built with them in mind.
Many people think about localizing content, but forget about localizing font type. While it seems like a minor piece of the localization puzzle, selecting a custom of a font may make your translated content unreadable, adding extra characters, symbols, or accent marks. Problems are extremely common when the source language is in the Latin alphabet and the target language is in Cyrillic or double-bite characters, for example, or when the source language is written left-to-right, but the target language reads right-to left.
At the end of the day, if you’re going to go through the process of translating your content, you want your multilingual users to be able to enjoy it and read it! The best way to achieve this is to choose a Unicode font which supports the most characters, including letters, digits, glyphs, and symbols. If you use a specific font that isn’t listed on the official Unicode Consortium’s font list and believe it’s directly tied to your website’s brand and messaging, you may want to consider using a unicode font on the translated versions of your website.
If you have an e-commerce, travel, or other industry specific website where customers can make payments through your site, localizing currency from your source to your target language can be a great way to garner trust among your users. Paul Farnell, CEO of Litmus, shared that one of the company’s biggest growth drivers was localizing currencies on their website, including Euro (€) based pricing in addition to dollar ($) based pricing. “3 out of 4 of our target customers were in North America and when we made the change we saw a 5x increase in conversion – all by literally just changing the currency symbol.”
While there’s no concrete answer as to why Litmus and other companies have seen an increase in sales as the result of localizing currencies, it is easy to understand why users may be more compelled to purchase from a company in their native currency. The first is trust. Customers often don’t feel comfortable paying for services in another currency. The second is convenience. By providing customers with prices in their native currency, you’re eliminating the need for them to convert prices from a foreign currency, making your website more appealing, and in your users’ eyes, more functional.
5. Time and Dates
Similar to localizing currency, localizing time and dates on your website can create a smooth user experience. While some may argue that not localizing time and dates won’t deter users from making a purchase, it can complicate things. Asking users to convert these units on their own, especially for an important purchase, such as one on a travel or hospitality website, could create a sense of distrust or even apprehension moving forward. You worked hard to get users to your site, don’t drive them away or create a barrier between them and your brand over something as simple presenting the time and dates on your website in the wrong format.
6. Photos and Symbols
We’ve all heard the saying “a picture’s worth a thousand words”, and this couldn’t ring more true than when designing a website. The simple addition of a photo can give a website its own personality, while enforcing the marketing message and overall brand. Kissmetrics, a customer intelligence and web analytics platform, goes as far as saying that photos have a direct impact on customer experience and conversion rate.
That said, photos (symbols included) don’t always have the same meaning across different cultures. If your company is carefully selecting photos for your website in your home country, the same amount of attention and detail must be applied when selecting photos for the translated versions of your website. As we mentioned above, doing so can have a positive impact on how your customers view your brand and your bottom line.
The last item on our list of things to localize is the colors of your website. Studies show that colors can surface a number of emotions among your website visitors, and these emotions often vary across cultures. For instance, red is a bold color that calls attention, often evoking feelings of excitement, vibrancy, or activity. In China, red can symbolize good luck, while in the Middle East, it can represent danger, evil, and violence. It’s often better to use more passive colors like blue which is said to be safest global color choice, thanks to its many positive associations like trust, security, and authority, especially in North America and Europe. Blue is also considered to be soothing and peaceful.
Knowing that colors used throughout your website can affect the mood of individuals who land on any of your pages, you may want to tweak your general color scheme or consider unique color palettes for each of your target locales. Doing so not only enhances overall customer experience, but encourages users to stay and browse your content. This has many benefits ranging from solidifying your brand’s authority among players in your industry, keeping you at top of mind for when the user is ready to make a purchase, or increasing conversion rates with a purchase right then and there!
Start Website Localization Today
Ready to provide your global users and customers with a great online experience? Start translating and localizing your website for customers around the world. And if you still have a few questions or need help with the localization process from start to finish, reach out to a Transifex team member today to ask questions or request a demo!