Website Localization vs Website Internationalization

Website Localization vs Website Internationalization

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In today’s digital age, owning a business comes with the necessity of launching your website. It’s simply an integral part of your company’s presentation and marketing. As your business keeps expanding into other regions and countries, launching a global website will become a necessary task in order to provide information about your company to reach a new target audience.

What does ‘global website’ mean, though? Is it a website after the process of translation, localization or internationalization? Many keep using these terms interchangeably, even though each of them describes an entirely different process.

Today, we will discuss the difference between website localization and website internationalization, and explain how to do it best.

#1. Website Translation 

Here we are – at the basics. Website translation is a process of translating a website from one language to another, which lets companies expand their reach. One needs to remember that website translation refers only to the content of the website.

Let’s say that after website translation your website will be exactly the same in the Arabic and English version apart from the translated content. Depending on the business, it may be more than enough, but most likely it will not bring you the results that you want.

Nowadays, we often use the term ‘website translation’ as a collective that already includes the process of localization and internationalization, since it is believed that these two are strongly tied to good translation (read more about it here). It’s not without the reason, yet we still need to remember that website translation is only the tip of the iceberg.

#2. Website Localization

Website localization is already a bit more complex. The process consists of different stages and procedures that will result in optimizing your website for a specific target audience.

The main objective of localization is to make the content and meaning come through accurately. The users should feel like the website experience is customized for their native language, hence is important for the translator to be an expert in target language including regionalisms.

Culture is a crucial part of localization. Website localization includes research and understanding of the targeted culture. Some content may not always be suitable for all cultures and regions and will require you to change them.

Another key element of website localization is UI adjustment. Remember that translated content can expand up to 30% in length in certain language combinations, shrink in another, and yet in another one, the text is read from right-to-left. This requires your entire design to be adjusted accordingly.

#3. Website Internationalization

Website localization is done on the front end of your website and it includes website translation and localizing other elements of your website. Website internationalization is done in the backend of your website and it proceeds the website localization process.

It sounds complicated, but in short, internationalization ensure that your technology supports text in any writing system of the world and your website is compatible to work with different language frameworks.

For example, if you are dealing with HTML forms or designing ontologies relating to people’s names and addresses, you will need to consider enabling many different approaches to formatting data. This also means that you might want to support alternative calendars, time zones, names and addresses in both native and transliterated forms.

Keeping all of the above in mind, the process of launching a global website would consist of these steps:

  1. Website internationalization
  2. Website translation
  3. Website localization

Or even better:

  1. Website internationalization
  2. Website localization (including website translation)

The most important conclusion is that website internationalization lies at the very bottom of the success of your global website since it’s all about making your website being able to go through the processes of website translation and localization.

If you have any doubts about any of the processes mentioned above, we will gladly help you to make the first step and become successful in going global!


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