A survey by the Common Sense Advisory found that 72.4% of consumers would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. However, it’s clearly not possible to have a website that appeals to all nationalities in only one language. So how can you ensure your website encompasses content for global audiences.
Translation is only one element of making content for global audiences. And although there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to writing websites that will appeal to every nation and culture, there are some things that you can do to ensure your content is localised and suitable for a global audience…
1. Who is your audience and where do they live?
This is probably one of the most important questions you should ask when you’re looking at localising your webpage, as it will form the foundations for the whole process. If you’re already localising some or all of your content, look at how effective it is.
If you haven’t yet localised any of your content, look at other businesses who are successful in the market you’re looking to enter into. What does their webpage look like? How is it structured? What kind of information is on the website? How is it different to their webpage in your home country?
Understanding your target audience’s needs and expectations is key to global success. Research, research and research.
2. How will your website work?
Although not directly related to content issues, it is worth noting that you’ll also need to consider whether you will have a separate site and URL for each market. Alternatively, do you want a ‘global gateway’ on your site? Ensure that you don’t neglect to use the hreflang tag.
3. Use of colour and fonts
There’s a fine line between localising your brand for a particular market and keeping your brand identity.
How much you localise your brand, mainly depends on your target audience.
For example, some US businesses choose to keep their branding very American for some markets and localise it more for others, depending on audience preference.
You will need to consider things such as your brand colour and fonts. Not all fonts, for example, support characters from outside of the Latin alphabet. Try and choose a font for your brand that will support other alphabets, as this will save changing it further down the line.
Colours also have different meanings in different cultures, so be aware of this when localising your brand.
4. Use of imagery
Imagery can be a great way to localise content effectively. It’s also worth noting that images used should be culturally relevant. If you’re trying to sell your trainers in the UAE, for example, a picture of someone running through rain and mud may not make much of an impact!
As a note: you will also need to think about how your website will work on different browsers (for example some countries prefer Firefox, others have a preference for Netscape).
5. Personalise content to their culture and interests
What one culture may find interesting and useful may be completely irrelevant for another.
This means that simply translating content from one language to another is not advisable and is rarely successful. You should consider using professional translation services, that use translators who are native speakers and have an in-depth knowledge of the local culture of your target audience, instead of using machine translation which is not liked by search engines and where the results could be bland at best and downright offensive at worst.
Additionally, having a full CMS (such as Word Press, Jumla or Drupal) that supports different language sub-sites is also a good idea, to help you manage your content strategy effectively.
6. Content for global audience: Content you want to translate
There’s no hiding from it. Translating content for global audiences can be expensive.
Although it may be tempting to cut costs by using machine translation across all of your content, this is not advisable and can be false economy. In order to keep costs down, you should look at your content and decide which bits are going to have the largest impact on your target audience’s decision making process. This could be your product descriptions, for example.
For this type of content, you may want to consider transcreation, rather than simply translating. The transcreation process involves specifically adapting your content rather than straight translation into another language.
7. Keep text clear
Ensure that your content cannot be interpreted in more than one way by your target audience. Otherwise, you could end up losing customers who are confused about what you offer.
It’s worth always ensuring that your English language content is clear and cannot be interpreted in any other way by a native speaker, as this could cause problems when it comes to translating it into another language.
8. Allow room for text expansion.
Different languages take up varying amounts of room. What is fine when said in English can be too long to read on a phone screen in, for example, German.
In fact, most languages take up more space than English (by an average of about 15%), so you should always leave room on your webpage for this kind of expansion.
9. Use consistent terminology
When preparing your English content for localisation, you should ensure that it is consistent with your brand in its vocabulary and phraseology.
This should mean that when translation takes place on your content by a native speaker, your brand message is more likely to get across to your target audience.
10. Multilingual SEO.
Don’t forget that it’s not just about translating your content into a different language. You’ll also need to integrate multilingual SEO techniques into your webpages, to ensure that your target audience can actually find you.
If you want to know more about this, take a look at our article: Everything you need to know about multilingual SEO.
Making your content suitable for a global audience can be challenging but with effective planning and research, you should be able to avoid most of the common problems businesses come across.
Want to know more about creating content suitable for a global audience? Here at Brightlines Translation, we are experts in all things translation and provide global translation services for international businesses. We’d love you to get in touch.