Images and Localization: What Should You Know

localize-images

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is true! Apart from the written content, the images are the most powerful elements on your website that influence how visitors will perceive your brand. In the era of digital marketing, imagery plays a part so important that it would be your loss to ignore it.

Images that don’t fit the overall branding, bad quality images or, perhaps the worst, non-localized images have a direct effect on your bounce and conversion rates. Kissmetrics report leaves no doubts – visual imagery has the power to either make or break your localized website‘s growth and engagement.

The Importance of Images for Your Localized Website

More and more businesses invest in written content localization to boost their global campaigns. What about images? We know for sure that companies translate images with text. However, choosing new images and color themes are usually not the first priorities on the list when it comes to website localization projects. As much as we understand that, we also need to remind you that pictures play a pivotal role in the decision-making process of users.

As human beings, we are simply more keen to absorb visual information. Not so long ago we published a tutorial on how to translate images with text embedded in them. Today, we go a step further and publish a piece with 5 things to look for while choosing the images for your localized website.

#1. Do Your Research on the Target Market

The first rule to remember is that one culture’s ‘thumbs up’ can be another culture ‘f*** you’. We always underline that it’s essential to do a proper research and get to know your audience before choosing the imagery for your website’s localized version destined for that specific market. That point will let you avoid cultural mistakes, but you will also find out how to use visual imagery to send the message across.

#2. Adapt Specific Images To The Target Market

Images carry different meanings for different people and it would be reckless to try to target different countries with exact same imagery. If you plan to conquer your new target market with a fully localized approach, you probably should include changing images on your localized website to the ones that will influence your new audience.

Apart from avoiding the cultural mistakes in localization, adapting images to your target market shows that first of all, you know your audience and you made an effort to deliver your brand message with a native touch. Remember, it always pays off to speak to people in their language.

#3. Use Neutral Imagery in General

Artistic nudity sketches that are supposedly devoided of any sexual meaning can be appreciated in the Western European countries. However, putting that as a background of the website that you localize into Arabic will probably be like shooting yourself in the knee. Similarly, pasting an image of your team chilling over a beer in ‘About us’ section can be considered laid back, but it won’t be perceived likewise in every country that you target.

Let’s be clear with one thing – using neutral imagery from the very beginning will also save you a lot of time and money in the future. After all, neutral imagery doesn’t require implementing so many changes for the new target market, unless you go for a fully-localized approach, mentioned in #2. If you use abstract illustrations of geometric shapes or artistic paint splashes that look aesthetically interesting, you play it safer.

#4. Pay Attention to Colors

 Studies have shown that the colors of apps that are popular in China are much brighter than the ones in Europe and U.S countries. If you plan to conquer that market, it may be a good idea to turn your color saturation levels a little bit up!

At the same time, you need to be cautious: the color red is interpreted as joyful and festive in mentioned China, whereas it’s considered aggressive and symbolizing anger in Japan. Royal yellow can bring you luck when you target Western countries apart from France, where it apparently symbolizes jealousy.

The easiest and also the most neutral option is to go for blue or grey. This attitude seems to be adopted by the majority of companies by now – not without a reason! If you want to read more about colors – read an Adobe report here.

#5. Stay Consistent

Even when you go for a fully localized approach, where you localize every detail of your website, you shouldn’t resign from your business unique identity. Preparing different versions of your website for different markets shouldn’t mean that each of the localized version has a different brand message. This includes design and style. Adapting for new target markets? Yes! Creating a mess consisting of elements that don’t fit altogether? Not really. Work on your branded content beforehand and decide on what message you want to send across.

 

As you can see, it’s not so easy to pick perfect images for a localized version of your website. It all depends whether you want to adapt every detail to your new target market, or maybe you want to work on the source language version to be more neutral and therefore, easy to localize. Choosing images for your website should be a part of a thorough website localization process.  Don’t forget that the role of the images on your website is to bridge languages, not to set them apart 🙂

Gosia
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Gosia loves copywriting and product translation. Additionally, she's a content marketing and lolcats junkie.

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