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6 Ways Bad Localization Can Ruin the User Experience

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Written By: Elisa Abbott

Localizing content has become a huge trend for all those who wish to expand their business to new markets. Most business owners have realized that a simple translation will not always help them achieve the wanted results and attract the kind of audience they are targeting.

When it comes to making your website content available for a new audience though, bad localization is a thing that can happen more often than you think and it can really affect the way a potential customer views your webpage. Here are some ways bad localization can ruin your visitors’ user experience and how you can avoid it.

Using automated translations

The very first thing that can ruin your visitors’ experience when they come across your website is the way you have decided to proceed with the translations. While there are many tools in the online market which promise to help you achieve a good translation, the truth is that there is no machine which can offer you a great quality translation.

The only one who can give you an accurate and on-point translation is a professional translator. Even if you think they are more expensive than a tool you can use yourself, you need to keep in mind that not everything a tool translates might make perfect sense.

A professional translator is the only person who speaks the target language and can provide you with a translation which will be perfectly understood by your audience. He will be able to accurately translate native words and phrases and make your products desirable and likeable to your target audience. If you’re in need of a translator, you can find some of the best professionals in the field to help you with your website localization.

Trying to localize an “unlocalizable” product

Sometimes, there are some products which can simply not be sold in every market across the world. In most cases, localization applies to using the right kind of phrases and words when translating s text in order to make a local audience interested. This includes the product’s description, label and even your advertisement campaign for it.

If the product you created was built in order to cover a certain demographic, it might not be easy for you to sell it somewhere else. There are factors which apply such as tradition, local market needs and expectations from a product. If you haven’t built the product with these factors in mind, it might just be impossible to localize it later on.

Not providing enough context for the translators

If you have made the right decision and started working with a professional translation service or translator, you still shouldn’t feel like your work is done for you. Along with the text you can submitted to be translated, you should always let the translator know a few more things about the product, the reason why it’s in the market and what you expect to get out of it hitting that new market.

These might seem like things which a translator wouldn’t need but in reality they are all essential to creating a good quality translation. Not only will it be more accurate and to the point, but the translator will also be able to add the right identifiers in order to make every piece of text blend in well together and describe your product and its purpose perfectly.

Not taking other variables into consideration

Apart from the translation and the local words and phrases you need to use, there are some other important things you should be taking into consideration. These are all traits which play an important role to the country you are aiming for but might not necessarily come to your mind straight away.

For example, it you are creating an app which shows the weather, you should know whether you should be adding the temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit. It you’re thinking of adding time and date to the landing page of your website, you should know the right format to use if you are targeting a European or an American audience.

These are some simple variables you should keep in mind in order to make your localization as accurate as possible. You can always talk about these issues with your hired translator as they will be way more likely to help you out with them. Sometimes, it’s the details which can really help you sell a product to a new market.

Assuming your audience knows just their native language

Another big mistake you can make is assuming your audience is monolingual. Most of the people around the world in our day and time speak more than one language, or they can at least understand some universal English words. In fact, around 60% of today’s population is multilingual.

You might believe that in order to attract a certain audience you should only have their language available on your website. That is not true and also not very practical. What you should focus on is having your website and products always translated in English as a default when someone new is visiting your website.

Remember though to always have the translated languages available and easy for the visitor to locate, so they can pick the language they prefer by themselves. With more than 43% of the world being bilingual, you shouldn’t just chose to present your visitors with a language based on their IP address as that can just be frustrating to use every single time they come across a new website.

Not expressing your brand’s voice

Last but not least, another common problem that comes with translations and localization of products is that it is not always easy to express your company’s voice in another language. If you’re not writing in your own native language, it will be very difficult for you to translate every single word play or phrase in the new language and even if the translator is great at their job, there can still be things which won’t be precisely translated.

In different languages, you will have to make certain decisions which can influence the outcome of your translation. You should try and explain your and your company’s values as best as possible to he translator you chose to work with, in order to help them appear as respectful and truly keep the same personal tone in everything he translates for you.

One way to make sure your products don’t change too much when they are translated into another language is to continue using the same color choices, illustrations and visual style when it comes to the presentation of your website and product. This can show the customer a continuation and help them have a better understanding of the way you market your brand.

Making sure the customer gets the same outcome in every language

A bit part of maintaining the user experience on your website, no matter the language you are writing in is making sure your website looks the same for every visitor. By using the same illustrations, colors and fonts, you are making sure that your customers all view your company in the same way.

While translations can vary from language to language, the best thing you can do is put your trust into a professional translator and provide them with all the necessary information in order to make your translation as accurate as possible. Bad localization can affect the way a potential customer views you and your company and it can really make an impact on your sales.

Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools and valuable university experiences – she has got you covered;)

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