General imagery from the homepage of Land Rover’s global website
Fully customized photographs
Fully customized photographs are images carefully chosen to be fully adapted to market-specific sites. The approach is far more complicated, as it requires profound research and complex workflows. But it can also lead to much greater resonance with your target audience.
7. Localize your website layout
Sometimes websites use separate language-specific style sheets and determine distinct style rules for every target language. This approach can address some of the font size issues and other layout requirements that are common in RTL languages like Arabic, Chinese, or Japanese.
Nowadays, localizable Ul design has become more and more popular. When you design region-specific Ul so that your website will be flexible and easily accommodate use across various devices, remember to support your responsive layout with localizable factors such as fonts.
8. Select a font that suits your choice of language
Although a font choice would seem to play a minor role in the localization process, it can have a considerable impact on the readability of your content. A poor selection can make your layout and interface inconsistent in look and feel. To avoid picking the wrong font for your product, remember the following two issues listed below.
Fonts should provide multi-language support
Choose a font that is Unicode-compliant. This means that whatever typography you may use on the site will be displayed properly. In other words, the content of the website will be encoded in a manner that enables global data exchange.
However, bear in mind that there are a few issues related to Unicode fonts that your website may encounter. First of all, some options don’t support certain languages. For instance, in certain cases, Chinese or Arabic characters can’t be properly displayed. Moreover, a web font file becomes heavy and difficult to both manage and upload when it combines all possible fonts. Therefore, we suggest subsetting, wherein you only choose and take the characters used and supported in a specific language.
Use different sizes of fonts for various language versions
It is usually recommended to use different font sizes. While the text of 12px works well for English, a Chinese audience may face major challenges with readability. Usually, fonts in non-latin typography should be at least 16px to ensure that users can read the text properly and effortlessly. Keep in mind that no font can be successfully applied universally across all of your localized websites.
9. Apply International SEO
It is almost certain that your marketing department has a well-thought-out SEO localization strategy for your home market. However, your business will also need to prepare an alternate, localized version for any other target audience. That includes determining keywords and phrases that are commonly used to search for your business, products, or services in international markets so you can see which of them are bringing natural search traffic to your site.
Don’t forget that there are various search engines in different countries. Obviously, Google is the most popular browser around the world. Therefore, the Google Keyword Tool is generally the most reliable source. However, there are some countries in which you’ll need to adapt for other search engines like Baidu in China and Naver Trends for localization in South Korea.
International URL structures
URL structures use a country code top-level domain (ccTLD), a subdomain, a subdirectory or subfolder, a gTLD with language parameters, or even a different domain name entirely. Proper application of these elements enables web developers to target a particular country with their websites. According to Google, ccTLDs entail two-letter codes to indicate to users and search engines the country, sovereign state, or dependent territory in which a website is registered. There are some country codes, like .ly for Libya, that are used so commonly for other purposes that Google treats them generically.
Below are simple explanations of each URL structure:
Country code top-level domain
- Two-letter code indicates the region in which the website is registered
- Ex. yourcompany.es
- Internationalized content is located on a separate, "third-level domain" that may or may not pass or receive link equity from the root domain
- Ex. es.yourcompany.com
- Internationalized content is placed in a determined subdirectory or subfolder of the root domain
- Ex. yourcompany.com/es
gTLD with language parameters
- gTLD stands for general top-level domain (like .com, .net, or .org)
- Usually, this type of URL is targeted to speakers of a particular language by appending a specific parameter
- Ex. yourcompany.com/?lang=es-mx
10. Determine a strategy for your servers
There are many challenges related to the application, location, and administration of servers that you will have to address right away.
Choosing an effective server location
For starters, you’ll need to decide how you want to connect your servers in terms of localization. It’s a good idea for each version of a website to be hosted on the nearest possible server. By doing so, you ensure that users in the target market will enjoy a faster and more seamless experience. If the servers are placed far enough from the region in question, it may affect loading times and overall website performance.
However, the distance between servers and localized websites cannot always be measured in a traditional manner. First of all, geographical distance shouldn’t be taken into consideration as it doesn’t necessarily improve the latency. So, you’ll need to conduct several tests to determine whether loading times are satisfying and website performance meets expectations. Moreover, consider various routing approaches and look for the option that has the tiniest latency possible.
You may also need to consider other factors such as the location of internet cables. Some regions mainly rely on underwater connections, which can alter the functional distance between a server and your audience. We encourage you to take a look at the underwater internet highway here: https://www.submarinecablemap.com/.
If you plan to launch a global website that serves as a benchmark for others, you’ll need to place the site on a dedicated server and be prepared to conduct regular performance audits.
Develop a Content Delivery Network
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a collection of web servers that are dispersed across different locations to deliver content to users more efficiently. It is like a centralized library that amasses all your resources, such as images, films, and PDF files, for use on your websites and is an absolute requirement when launching the localization process. However, when managing a CDN, you may encounter one of the biggest problems in IT - proper cache management.
According to Microstrategy, there are several factors that account for good cache management practices. You’ll need to consider the number and personalization requirements of documents involved in your localization web strategy and the availability of disk space.
Another issue concerns the problem of server architecture and application integrity. When deciding on the option that’s the best fit for your business, there are many factors to consider, such as performance, scalability, cost, reliability, and ease of management.
There is no universal solution or configuration. Also, remember that cloud solutions are not necessarily the most efficient ones. In fact, there are several circumstances in which cloud on-demand can cost more than renting a dedicated server. While a cloud-based solution is generally more cost-effective in mid-size companies, the cost of subscriptions can often end up higher than the maintenance fee of on-premises servers.
11. Considering how different languages affect HTML tags
Separating HTML tags is necessary to effectively maintain a website, but is also one of the most challenging parts of the localization process.
Some tags need to be used on a CMS user level so that content is properly displayed. However, translating content from one language to another generally means that the syntax and length of the text changes, which also affects the position of HTML tags. If they are misplaced, the content may be displayed improperly and negatively impact the site’s readability. In addition, content that is not effectively separated performs badly in terms of SEO.
In the end, we recommend using alternative syntax that can be automatically uploaded to respective localized pages. The markdown syntax is one potential solution as it doesn’t change the content specifics. Below, we’ve provided an example of this method that makes the phrase bold.
< strong >HTML tag that makes the phrase bold< /strong >
12. Website maintenance
Even if your websites have been localized, it doesn’t mean that the project is finished. There are many other issues that you should consider.
Regular web performance audits
First of all, determine whether the results are consistent with the requirements and expectations of your plan. To do so and to ensure that your site is not skipped by potential customers, you’ll need to conduct an audit comparing your estimates with the final outcome.
Alternatively, identify the pages or parts of the site that perform the worst. Your company will need to determine the cause and then establish possible solutions. Generally, the cause may be the content of the page and the market’s reality. If that’s the case, either disable the page in question, change the content completely, or leave the page without any major updates.
There are many tools used by developers that are useful for identifying a website’s weakest points. Generally speaking, you should opt for two popular and reliable tools such as Lighthouse and Webpage test.
Choose an approach for updates
There are two different ways to approach the issue:
- Update content on every site at the same time
- Update content in line with market-specific strategies.
Most of the time, any new or updated content from your global site should be regularly translated and deployed on localized websites so that potential regional customers have access to the most up-to-date version. Even though the first approach comes more highly recommended, there are several circumstances in which it is better to delay updates. For example, if local markets have to sell out the previous version of a product from among existing stock and are unable to offer major discounts, displaying the newest product may significantly affect your company’s ability to sell previous versions.
In the long-term, you may need to develop and use a system that enables the implementation of best practices your company established during the localization project. There are many recommended tools such as Translation Memory that can do this. However, the human factor also plays a significant role. Maintaining regular contact with local teams will help you remain up-to-date so that you can resolve any issues as soon as possible.