Translation and localization of a website can be tedious endeavor. Even small distortions in format and layout can have serious ramifications on the use interface. Factors impacting functionality and experience must be taken into account. With much room for error it is often advised to devise website localization strategies in advance. Several tools and third party resources are available today. Changes in location also lead to changes in belief and customs. Proper care must be taken while designing the content. Mentioned below are some of the common localization issues that one should be wary of while designing any website-
1) Changes in text.
This is one of the most common localization issues. Readability is as important as grammatical accuracy. The length of sentences can change by 40 to 100% while translating texts into different languages. This can lead to cluttered appearance of the website. Also, be careful of unexpected breaks in sentence as the length of words change from language to language. Acronyms must be used with care as they may lose their familiarity in different languages.
2) Changes in character set.
Character set is simply the digital representation of the script of a language. English uses Latin script whereas Chinese languages us holograms. Reading directions are often prone to changes in this case. For example, logograms are read from top to bottom and Urdu is read right to left. Orientation of the website needs to accommodate for such changes. The key is to keep localization concerns in mind during
the initial design stage.
3) Editing pictures.
Different regions have different cultures associated with it. This can
prompt varying reactions to same content. Seemingly innocent images may turn into causes for concerns in certain regions. Hence one should be thorough in the cultural and political climate of the region before localizing. Hand gestures and clothing styles should be paid special attention.
4) Inconsistent formatting.
This mainly concerns itself with changes in representation on data in multiple regions. Postal codes, currency denominations, numbers, dates and other similar details hold actual value to users. Hence proper care must be taken in representing them on the website. Compliance with local formatting practices is to be ensured.
5) Changing time zone.
This is a major cause for developers. The earth is divided into 40
time zones. Some regions like the Gaza strip even have multiple time zones. Keeping track of time with proper attention to daylight saving time is not an easy task.
6) Handling input.
Different languages have different syntax. This can lead to changes in
the input format. Your code must take into account these variations in user input while generating the output.
Website localization is increasingly becoming too complicated a task for businesses to handle on their own. The market is growing with new Localization service providers entering the field. It is often advised to call in third party localization service providers as they are knowledgeable in the various parameters affecting a region like laws, culture, language and temperament. It is very easy to lose viewers today due to lack of proper representation of objectionable content. Hence, localization and translation must be done with utmost care.