Many people new to translation are confused by the terms website translation, website internationalization and website localization. Although each term describes a distinct process for multilingual website projects, translation and localization are often used almost interchangeably. This blog clears up the mystery around these basic concepts.
What is Website Translation?
Website translation, the process of converting text from a source language into a target language, is also known as website globalization. In order to translate a website into other languages, you may need both website internationalization (I18N) and website localization (L10N). Most translation companies use the term globalization for the combination of internationalization and localization.
The terms internationalization, localization and globalization are frequently abbreviated to numerous. I18n means there are 18 letters between the first i and the last n in internationalization. The capital L in L10n helps to distinguish it from the “I” in I18n.
What is Website Internationalization?
Website internationalization (I18N) involves enabling the back-end of a website to handle different languages, character sets, currencies, submit form data, site search capabilities, etc. It involves understanding what 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 already support website internationalization or are enabled for other languages.
What is Website Localization?
Localization (L10N) 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. As an example, localization for Brazilian Portuguese as a target language would be different than for European Portuguese.
Requirements to Start a Website Localization Project
To get started with a website localization project, provide your translation company with a complete set of sources files, also known as a localization kit, which should consist of all of the resources used to develop, build and run your website, including:
- Your website(s) URL.
- Any passwords or login instructions.
- Summary of website architecture.
- Summary of any technologies and/or development tools 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.
- Information regarding the CMS used to author, store and publish content.
- All files that make up your website in their original folder/file structure.
- All original graphics used in your website (e.g., artwork, background, navigation buttons).
- All application source files (e.g., Word, FrameMaker, Quark, etc.) for any documentation available via your website.
- All application source files (e.g., 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 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.
Website Localization Methodology
Each translation agency or translation company may have a variation of the methodology which GPI uses, outlined below:
- Review, analysis and preparation of client’s source files.
- Project kick-off confirming scope, schedule and teams.
- Web authoring and publishing workflow review.
- Subject matter training and research.
- Glossary and style guide development.
- Cultural correctness assessment.
- Global search engine optimization (SEO).
- Translation, editing and proofreading of all content.
- Localization of all graphics.
- Multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) for webpages.
- Localization of any multimedia.
- Draft delivery to client.
- Basic online QA and testing.
- Final edits, translation memory updates and archiving of files.
Keeping the Goal of Website Globalization in Mind
Whether you are trying to launch a multilingual website to expand the markets for your products and services, or you are trying to increase your company’s global operational efficiencies by developing multilingual extranets and intranets, website globalization is a requirement to make either a reality. Each clients’ needs are somewhat unique and there are a variety of factors that can influence resources and costs involved in a complex website globalization project.