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Website Translation vs Website Localization... What's Best for You?

Localized Website on a Tablet

So you’re thinking about translating your website! Thing is, you’re not sure how to get the best solution for your needs, or what solutions even exist.

There are dozens of companies out there offering website translation and website localization, but you might be asking yourself, “what’s the difference?” and, “what’s best for me?”

We’re here to help you answer those questions, and give you the information you need to ask the right questions and make the right choice when it comes to developing your website for a new market.


Translation vs Localization:

The first, and most important step is to understand the difference between translation and localization. While website translation and localization often play hand-in-hand, certain key differences will affect the complexity, cost, and final outcome of a project.

Translation is the process of converting written text from a source (original) language to one or more target (new) languages. There essentially three ways to translate text: machine translation, human translation, or a combination of both. When the message is important to you and your audience, expert human translators, proofreaders, and editors should be incorporated into the process to ensure accuracy and consistency in the translated version(s) of your message.

Localization is the process of re-creating your message to match the preferences of different cultures while maintaining your core identity. Localizing your website often requires a combination of text translation, transcreation, and localized search engine optimization (SEO). In short, website localization is an all-encompassing solution that always incorporates website translation. The extent to which you should localize your website for a new market will depend on the purpose of your website, the nature of your offerings, and the cultural norms in your new markets.


When to use website translation:

Professional website translation is quite similar to professional document translation. Although there are several different methods used to expedite the website translation process, the use of expert human translators is a necessity when accuracy and consistency matter. Below are some circumstances where website translation would serve as the ideal solution.

  • When the website is highly transactional.

  • When the website changes frequently.

  • When the new market is culturally similar to your primary market.

  • When testing, or experimenting with new markets.

When to use website localization:

Website localization is essentially a more detail-oriented form of website translation. Localizing your site consists of converting written text, brand slogans, graphics, and website design to serve the preferences of a new market. Due to the complexity of these projects, it’s important to fully understand the new market before engaging in a complete website localization project. Below are some circumstances where website localization would serve as the ideal solution.

  • Existing website content is inconsistent with new market interests.

  • Website images and graphics could deter or offend key users.

  • When you fully understand how the new market uses the web.


Easing into it…

If you're not entirely sure how the new market will interact with your site, easing into the transition can provide you with useful insights. Start off by translating a select few pages to see how non-English users behave on your site. However, be careful with machine translation. The poor quality of machine translation is likely to negatively affect the way non-English users perceive and interact with your site.

Many companies find that professional website translation is a perfect solution to reach non-English speaking markets online. However, if you realize that users are not engaging with your content, you might want to look into other forms of website localization. You might need a new slogan, different graphics, or localized content that will really speak to the new market.


Auracom International offers professional translation and interpreting services in over 200 languages. View our services or contact us directly for more information.

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