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Internationalization vs. Localization

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In the early days of the internet, it was constantly referred to as the “world wide web.” After several decades of growth and expansion, it is hard to argue against this name.

However, we still run into some underlying issues when it comes to adapting websites outside our home markets. The internationalization or localization of a website helps the content adapt to market/audience norms and demands. So what is the difference? Here is the breakdown on international translation vs localization.

Internationalization

Often referred to as globalization, the art of internationalization is meant to develop or convert a product or website to be understood by any reader from any market around the globe—hence the nickname globalization.

This requires attention to factors that you might take for granted in your home market, such as enabling Unicode on the website, removing obstacles that might interfere with international access, date and time formats, number formats, numerical systems, and how names or addresses are written.

This content should be separated to allow each user to select their preferences, and be available in multiple languages.

Localization

Instead of preemptively converting a website to a global audience, the practice of localization is meant to translate specifically for a target audience.

For example, if a European website was hoping to localize their website for an American audience, they would need to convert a few aspects of writing or content; dates would need to be switched from Day/Month/Year to Month/Day/Year, currencies would need to be converted, and content might need to be translated into a different language.

Careful attention must be given to the app, user interface, or software to ensure that the text and marketing materials translate appropriately to the native language. They should also be examined—particularly graphics or images—to ensure they are not offensive or inappropriate for the target market.

Cristian González
Cristian González
Marketing @ Key Content.
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