What Is Localization?

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Localization, often abbreviated as L10n, is the process of adapting a software application, website, or product to align with the language, cultural norms, and functional expectations of a specific target market or locale. This definition of localization underscores its aim: to make content resonate with users globally by considering local sensitivities and requirements.

What is the difference between l10n, i18n and g11n?

It’s important not to confuse localization with related terms such as Internationalization (I18n), Globalization (G11n), and Translation (T9n), each of which plays a unique role in the broader context of making product globally accessible. Here’s a brief overview to clarify the differences:

  • Translation (T9n) focuses on converting text and messages from one language to another, ensuring linguistic accuracy.
  • Internationalization (I18n) involves designing and developing the software in a way that makes it adaptable to various languages and regions without requiring engineering changes.
  • Localization (L10n) goes beyond translation to tailor the user experience, ensuring that the software not only speaks the language of its users but also reflects their cultural preferences and complies with local regulations.
  • Globalization (G11n) is the overarching strategy that encompasses all these efforts, aiming to enable the software to be used and sold worldwide.

To put is shortly:

  • Translation adapts the message. 
  • Internationalization adapts the code. 
  • Localization adapts the experience. 
  • Globalization adapts the framework.

What do you mean by localization?

The localization process, as previously mentioned, extends beyond mere language translation. It encompasses a multitude of components that require attention during localization.

  • Cultural Adaptation: Adjusting visuals, graphics, and content to align with local preferences and habits.
  • Design and Layout Adjustments: Modifying layouts to accommodate translated text, ensuring readability and aesthetic appeal.
  • Local Conventions: Converting currencies, measurement units, and adhering to local formats for dates, punctuation, symbols, phone numbers, and addresses.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Meeting local legal standards and regulations to ensure full market compliance.

Why do you need localization?

In today’s global marketplace, the ability to connect with audiences across cultural and linguistic barriers is crucial for business growth and customer engagement. 

The “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” study conducted by CSA Research demonstrates how significant the impact on business success can be if you ignore localization.

The survey was done in 29 countries and analyzed responses to 50 questions. 

According to this report, 65% of consumers have said they prefer content in their native language. What’s more, 40% of consumers won’t even consider buying from a website that is not in their language.

What is the role of localization?

Now, we understand that localization paves the way for global success. But what specific strategic advantages does it bring to your business expansion?

  • Expands Market Reach: Localization helps to break language barriers and cultural differences, making your product accessible and appealing to a global audience.
  • Enhances User Experience:  Localization ensures a more intuitive and engaging experience for users worldwide by adapting your product to the local language and cultural nuances,
  • Increases Revenue Potential: Localization gives access to more potential customers globally, directly impacting your revenue growth.
  • Builds Brand Loyalty: Localization demonstrates your commitment and respect for our international customers, helping to build brand loyalty and trust.
  • Competitive Advantage: Localization can significantly differentiate your business in crowded marketplaces.

In summury, localization is essential for any company looking to succeed on a global scale. It’s not just about translation; it’s about creating a product that resonates with users in every market you enter.

What are the industries that need localization?

Localization is essential for a wide range of industries aiming for global market penetration and success. Here are the top ones: 

  • Software Companies: To ensure their applications and products resonate with users in diverse markets, offering a seamless and culturally relevant user experience.
  • Content Creators and Marketers: To connect with a broader audience by adapting their messaging and content to meet the cultural and linguistic expectations of different regions.
  • E-commerce Businesses: To maximize their global sales potential by providing shopping experiences that are tailored to the local languages, currencies, and consumer habits.
  • Educational Institutions and e-Learning Platforms: To make their courses accessible and relevant to students worldwide, breaking educational barriers.
  • Global Enterprises: To maintain and enhance their international presence, ensuring that corporate communication, products, and services are culturally sensitive and localized.
  • Video Games: To provide gamers with unique experiences (adapting cultural references, humor etc) and enable their communication with other gamers worldwide.

How do you do localization?

Define your localization strategy: Identify your target markets, desired languages, and cultural nuances. Set clear objectives and performance indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of your localization efforts.

Prepare assets for localization: Create a comprehensive list of all assets that need localization, including user interface elements, documentation, marketing materials, multimedia, and legal documents. Ideally use a translation management system (TMS). 

Content Audit and Simplification: Review and audit content to remove or revise culturally specific references, idioms, and metaphors that may not translate well. Simplify content to make translation more straightforward and cost-effective.

Establish a Glossary and Style Guide: Develop a glossary of key terms and a style guide to ensure consistency in terminology and tone across all localized versions. This should be shared with all translation teams.

Choose the Right Tools and Technology: Select localization and translation management tools that integrate well with current workflows and support efficient translation processes. If you need to translate a code, be aware that not all TMS solutions may work properly with code repositories, so you might need a specific tool for that, like Localyzer.

Select and Brief the Localization Team: Choose experienced translators who are native speakers of the target language and familiar with the subject matter. Provide them with context, access to the glossary, and the style guide, and brief them on the project objectives and target audience.

Prepare Localization Kits: Compile localization kits for translators, including the source files, glossary, style guide, context information (such as screenshots or wireframes), and any other relevant background material. 

Set Up Quality Assurance Processes: Define quality assurance (QA) processes that include linguistic, functional, and cosmetic testing. Ensure there are clear procedures for feedback and revisions.

What is a good example of localization?

Dropbox 

Dropbox demonstrates its commitment to global reach by supporting 20 languages across 180 countries, making their platform accessible worldwide. Their compact yet diverse localization team, composed of seven members fluent in seven languages, effectively bridges cultural gaps. By not just translating text but also adapting to cultural preferences, Dropbox provides an intuitive experience for a global audience, showcasing their dedication to inclusivity and user-friendly design.

Uber 

Uber’s localization strategy shows a strong commitment to meeting the needs of its global customers. They go beyond just translating words; they change their user interface and experiences to match each country. This includes using different color schemes and images for every place they operate. This approach, known as transcreation, makes sure the app feels right in the cultural setting of each market. Created by people from each country, these versions of the app prove Uber’s dedication to offering a service that fits well with users all around the world.

Airnbn 

Airbnb showcases its dedication to global accessibility and localization by supporting 62 languages. Their strategy extends beyond simple translation, ensuring their website and user interface are fully adapted to reflect local norms and user preferences. This comprehensive approach includes tailoring currencies, measurement units, and date formats to suit each specific market, guaranteeing a smooth and intuitive experience for users worldwide.

Conclusion

Localization—or L10n—isn’t just a step in global market expansion; it’s a cornerstone of creating truly user-centric products that resonate on a global scale.

Ready to make your product feel local anywhere in the world? Contact us to discover how our expert software localization services can transform your business and help you connect with customers across the globe.

Author

Kate Vostokova
Kate Vostokova
Kate is a seasoned B2B content marketing manager with a five-year journey in the localization industry. She is passionate about crafting various types of content to educate people about internationalization (i18n), localization, and the latest technological advances, including Large Language Models (LLMs).
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