6 Website Internationalization Best Practices That Everyone Misses

6 Website Internationalization Best Practices That Everyone Misses

6 Website Internationalization Best Practices That Everyone Misses 1920 1080 Sergio Guillén

Website Internationalization Best Practices for International-Ready Websites and Applications

Structuring a website to accommodate international audiences requires more than the translation of web copy, as brands embarking on the adventure of internationalization quickly learn. The consensus of the online programming community is that it’s hard, but a few simple website internationalization best practices make it a whole lot easier.

1. Recognizing Opportunities for Internationalization

In today’s online settings, global is the buzzword. Increasing your business’s reach to multiple countries expands your market exponentially. What happens if you ignore the expansion and only push to the limits of your native market? You miss out on a great opportunity for brand development.

Recognizing internationalization as an opening for business growth is the first step in making the process less of a chore and more of a challenge with a beneficial outcome. The Internationalization Working Group has undertaken the endeavor of making the process smooth for users worldwide, developing outreach and educational materials to help both web users and programmers.

2. Equipping Websites to Handle Multiple Languages

As commenter Ryan Doherty notes at Stack Overflow, equipping your website to handle multiple languages is an essential step in internationalization. While we’re huge proponents of using a quality translation service for optimal localization, there are nuances in each language that can throw off the look and layout of your web page.

Keep in mind that certain languages require larger font sizes, but also note which words wind up longer when translated from English. As Doherty points out, Japanese and Chinese words are often half the length of English words, while other languages result in words that are two to three times as long.

Defaulting to English might seem like the easiest way out, but directly translating page content without taking layout and font into consideration is a misstep in curating international-ready websites and applications.

3. Prevention Over Remediation

Whether you anticipate expanding your business model into multiple countries from the outset, or you’re jumping in with a seasoned company, putting in the time and effort now could save you thousands in the future.

Adhering to website internationalization best practices may cost you upfront, but it also saves you from spending more money on translation and adaptation later. In Lingotek’s guide to internationalization, their focus is on setting businesses up for success before tackling smaller local markets.

Imagine establishing your website or app in English only, without accounting for language translation, differing word lengths, or layout. As your brand expands into local markets, implementing those changes will require a completely reworked website and code. Why put it off until later when you can set the stage and save money now?

4. Back-End Settings Make or Break User Experience

Lingotek’s guide lists seven fundamental elements of localizability that point you in the direction of internationalization fluency. While their top list item (regional settings) is a no-brainer since currency, measurements, numbers, times, addresses, and sorting rules all vary by locale, other tips help developers set the stage for easier internationalization.

Characters and numbers aren’t the only considerations for developers. Including images that are culturally insensitive could impede your brand’s progress in an international market. Cultural sensitivity tops the list of website internationalization best practices because offending consumers is low on the list of acceptable business moves.

Common courtesy dictates not only seamless translation of written copy, but the incorporation of culturally appropriate symbols and images. Also, setting up your text for ease of translation without leaving vital code vulnerable helps preserve the user experience.

5. Churn Out Adaptable Content

Between cultural sensitivities and language differences, when translators finally get ahold of your content, you don’t want them wading through excessive U.S.-based colloquialisms or sports references. Ideally, the essential content of your website or app should lend itself to adaptation to more than a single language.

While not the primary focus of a programmer or the company’s tech support, businesses must keep an eye on their writers. Establishing guidelines for translation-friendly content will help reduce rewrites when it comes time to translate copy into multiple languages.

6. Test, Test, and Test Again

Pseudo-localization software helps test your website or software visually, preventing formatting blunders before they happen. The Internationalization Working Group recommends simple adjustments like mentioning “lang” attributes in HTML tags to set your site up for accommodating a different language.

Because of the nuances of each language, it’s impossible to list all the coding tips for each here. Before adapting your website or app’s code for internationalization, it pays to research the global audience you intend to target. Learn whether your expansion locale’s language reads left to right or right to left. Ensure that letter spacing and overall aesthetic value is preserved by the fonts you use. Again, keep your eye on the ultimate prize—an easily adaptable website or app that will grow with your brand into untapped international markets.

Sergio Guillén

As the CEO of Accelingo, I believe in a globalized world where businesses flawlessly share their message across different cultures.I strive to empower startups to scale up globally and take over the world by providing compelling multilingual content that preserves their brand’s message and identity while increasing their reputation and visibility among global clients and partners.If you’re an ambitious startup hungry for international success, get in touch with me today and let’s find out how your startup can benefit from my expertise!

All stories by: Sergio Guillén

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