The difference between translation and localization can be confusing. But the two processes are radically different, with localization being even more complex than translation.The best way to translate a website is to adapt the content, in our case, of a website, taking many elements into account regarding the target audience: besides the linguistic, cultural and technical aspects, keep in mind that you also have to translate the length of the content, the visual aspects and the different browser methods, which can be completely different from one country to another.

These steps are essential if you want to internationalize your website, and thus your business. A very high quality is compulsory, as it is the first contact the client will have with the society, via the website.

Which languages to choose for the internationalization of a website?

Each country has its economic and cultural preferences, as well as codes specific to their culture.Your website language translator has to be an expert in both the source and target languages the website to match exactly with the habits and customs of the country it is localized into. There question then arises: which languages are the most commonly localized and which are the main difficulties they come with?

  • English, the‘must-do’

English must be the first language you translate a website into. It is the most learnt language in the world, and will allow you to reach a very high number of people all over the world.

It is also the most useful language in terms of profitability and power, as many of the main world powers are English-speaking countries, such as the UK, Canada, the US and Australia. Keep in mind that some words can differ from one language to another (US and UK English), which means you have to choose which audience you to want to target first and foremost.

A specific English can very probably be understood by most English speakers, but will sound more familiar to some of them. Moreover, an American will choose the efficiency of the website layout and of its use rather than its aesthetics. As for them, Europeans will much rather prefer something more visual and with more multimedia content. On the contrary, a Chinese will like better something heavier in content and animations. Therefore, you have to change the entire website according to these criteria, and not only the language itself.

  • Spanish, oh so necessary

Spoken by over 400 million people over the world, a website localization into Spanish remains one of the most important steps. The difference between the various types of Spanish is even stronger than in English, as the Spanish spoken in Spain is well different from the ones spoken in Latin America (within which there are a few differences as well). Indeed, besides the differences in vocabulary and conjugation, there also are strong cultural changes between these two parts of the world. You therefore have to choose between localizing your website either into the Spanish spoken in Spain or into something more appropriate for Latin America. It is also possible to opt for a Spanish that would be more neutral and understood by most.

  • Chinese, Japanese, Korean, the safe bet

Spoken in highly populated and developing countries, theses languages become more and more important on the online consumption market. It would be totally profitable to invest in the localization of a website into these cultures.

In that case, the difficulty becomes even higher, knowing that cultural differences with the occidental cultures are massive, and not only in terms of grammatical structures, date format, etc… In China for example, the notion of hierarchy is much more developed than in Occident, which is an element that has to be taken into account.

Colors also represent a fundamental element: white refers to something holy in the US, whereas it is a sign of grieving in Chine. In the localization area, every single detail counts!

  • Italian, French, German, the traditional

As anyone would expect, the main European languages are in this list, being spoken in countries where the access to the Internet is totally common. But once again, things are more complicated than they look: the French spoken in France is radically different from Canadian French, and whilst a Québécois could surely understand pretty much everything a French person says, the contrary is not always the case. For example, in France the English word ‘airbag’ has become a totally common word, whereas a Québécois would say ‘coussingonflable’ (inflatable cushion), which would sound totally weird to a French person.

The company needs to plan the localization of its website while creating it in the first place, so it is adaptable to other languages, countries and cultures. This process would therefore be an extensive and more specific form of translating websites, completely adapted to a very targeted audience, and done by an expert so the quality is guaranteed.