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12 Steps to Website Globalization

Whether you are trying to launch a multilingual website to expand your products and services into new global markets or increase your company’s global operational efficiencies by developing multilingual extranets and intranets, website globalization is a requirement to make either a reality. You must translate (globalize) your website to empower your web presence to effectively communicate, conduct and complete international ecommerce.

In order to truly translate a website into other languages, you may need both internationalization (I18N) and localization (L10N) services.

Internationalization (I18N)

Internationalization involves enabling the backend of a website to handle different languages, character encoding, currencies, form data submission, site search capabilities, etc. Internationalization requires understanding which database and content management system (CMS) you are using to author, store and publish your website’s content. Many recent versions of databases and CMSs are already internationalized or enabled for other languages. For instance, such systems should be double-byte enabled to handle Asian languages and script-based languages.

Localization (L10N)

Localization is defined as the process of adapting a website for a specific international market, which includes translating the content, resizing dialog boxes, customizing features and testing results to ensure that the website works in the target language. Localization also involves the process of adapting an internationalized website for a specific language or region by adding locale-specific components.

Website Localization Kit

Project analysis and estimating cannot begin until the customer assembles and submits a complete set of website source files, also knows as a localization kit. This kit should include:

  • Your website(s) URL.
  • Any passwords or login instructions.
  • Summary of website architecture.
  • Summary of any technologies and/or web development toolsets used to develop your website.
  • Contact information for your development team who will participate in the globalization process.
  • Contact information for your marketing team who will participate in the globalization process.
  • Any source code for your website or web-driven application.
  • All files that make up your website in their original folder/file structure.
  • Information regarding the CMS used to author, store and publish content.
  • All original graphics used in your website (artwork, backgrounds, navigation buttons, etc.).
  • All application source files (Word, FrameMaker, Quark, etc.) for any documentation available via your website.
  • All application source files (Flash, etc.) for any multimedia available via your website.
  • A list (if available) of all files that need to be translated.
File Analysis for Website Localization

The source files in your website localization kit will be analyzed by your translation partner for:

  • Number of words
  • Source and target languages
  • Subject matter
  • Graphic localization requirements
  • Desktop publishing (DTP) requirements
  • Website development platform and process
  • Internationalization requirements
  • Client review and approval requirements
  • Client workflow requirements
12 Steps to Website Globalization

The following is an overview of the steps for website globalization.

1. Pre-Translation Source File Review

Source files are assembled in the website localization kit described above. Files are prepared in order to utilize a translation memory (TM) workflow and also to preserve any mark-up or formatting codes in online documents for download in order to save time and costs with DTP for the target languages. A proposal is generated based on project factors including word counts, localizable graphics, target languages and any CMSs and workflows required.

2. Project Kick-Off

The kick-off includes and confirms the following: the project team, project schedules, project specifications, workflow requirements, communication channels, review and approval milestones, current web authoring and publishing workflows.

3. Subject Matter Training and Research

A Globalization Services Team (GST) will review and study reference materials provided, including source files, demos and general client information. Additional client-specific training for translation teams related to the website subject matter may be required.

4. Glossary Development

Translation teams develop and maintain client specific glossaries that leverage any existing client glossaries and the latest industry-specific dictionaries.

5. Cultural Correctness Assessment

Before the actual translation begins, the source web content and overall website design and feature set are reviewed for basic cultural correctness and customizations that may be required. An array of issues are reviewed, ranging from the need to culturally customize graphics and adding local phone numbers to comprehensive customization of website features based on locale-specific cultural values.

6. Translation-Editing-Proofreading (TEP)

Translation is performed by a primary translation/copy writing team and editing/proofreading is done by a secondary linguistic team. All translations are completed by human translators, utilizing translation memory technologies that ensure an efficient and consistent translation.

7. Website Graphic and UI Localization

All embedded, translatable text found in navigation buttons, web art and other web graphics are extracted and translated, using the standard translation workflow. The translated text is then incorporated back into the original graphics, adjusting for text expansion as required, to create a language-specific, or localized, version of the graphic.

8. Document Formatting and DTP

Many websites have an array of linked documents which may require localization. Formatting (DTP) of these documents includes formatting the target language documentation to match the original source documents in terms of layout, fonts, graphics and overall design. Adobe PDF files can be created and optimized for screen or print and linked to the globalized websites.

9. Multimedia Localization

Many websites incorporate various multimedia components that require localization. Multimedia must be analyzed individually for numerous factors, which range from determining word counts in screen text, audio scripts and video to the analysis of the types of assets and how they were digitized and included in your multimedia. All multimedia can be localized and must be tested to properly present audio and video in all target languages.

10. Website Quality Assurance (QA) and Testing

GPI’s best practices include basic online website localization quality assurance (QA) as a standard line item for all website projects. This QA checks the language versions of your site under selected browser/OS combinations for any cosmetic or linguistic issues, and helps identity basic functionality issues as well. Typically all testing is client-driven and the Globalization Services Team will work side-by-side with your expert users to perform I18N, L10N and/or functionality testing, onsite or offsite.

11. Client Delivery

After the website and all components have been localized, final draft sets of the source files in all target language versions are provided to the client. Client may review and approve all web content for both translation accuracy and design correctness. Another round of QA is performed once language versions of a website are in their final hosting environment.

12. Final Edits and File Archiving

The client provides any final comments for the translation and formatting. Comments are incorporated and final websites and documents are produced. GPI ensures the client’s TMs and glossaries are updated with any final linguistic changes. The final project folder, including all source files, is securely stored for future revisions, if required.