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This is the third and final part of Website localization article. To check the first part, click here, and the second part here.

In this third part we are going to concentrate on some linguistic and cultural aspects of website localization. As we have already mentioned, localizing a website implies adapting it functionally. This however, is not enough; it also needs to be adapted linguistically and culturally so that it is acceptable in target locales.

Translating a website from one language into another is not always as straight forward as it might seem: there are a number of factors to be taken into account when translating the content. First of all, it is necessary to examine the content of the original page in order to decide what is going to be localized and how. Depending on the target culture, certain information will have to be modified or suppressed, or the focus might have to be changed completely. For instance, if you are presenting company information, certain cultures value academic titles and professional merits as positive, while other cultures might consider such information as pedantic.

From the linguistic point of view, there are six main aspects to be considered:

  1. Professional translators working in their mother tongue should always be sought and used in any localization project, since only these professionals can guarantee a sound knowledge in the language, the culture and, if it is the case, the specific terminology and style of a certain project. It is advisable that these native speakers are living and working locally, for this is the only way to be aware of the nuances and ongoing changes in the language and the cultural languages of the target market. Good quality assurance processes should also be guaranteed, so that the final version is completely error-free.

2. It is important to create and maintain terminology from the start, particularly if the website contains specific terminology, or if the project is going to be shared among different translators. This will make translators jobs much easier, since they will not need to spend time in terminology research when translating. It will also guarantee consistency among the different pages of a site and with other product or company documentation, which in turn will contribute to a better corporate image.

3. When translating into another language, it is essential to consider regional variants or locales. For instance, is it a website in Arabic that is to be aimed at Algerians or Egyptians? If, for example, it is to target Arabic speakers in all locales, it is advisable to use standard language to avoid misunderstandings.

4. As a general rule, it is advisable to avoid slang, jargon, idioms, puns, colloquialisms and jokes in the source language, since especially these elements can be very difficult to translate into other languages and cultures.

5. The style of the language must be analyzed: if the website is intended for businesspeople as target audience, the vocabulary, grammar and punctuation must reflect this. In the same way, if the audience is informal or young, then a different style must be used, always taking into account the cultural differences.

6. Presenting a product in a foreign market may require dramatic adaptations, and it is worth considering developing some local or country-specific content that provides added value to the localized product.

Apart from all these aspects to be considered, localization also implies using the appropriate format for numbers, time, currency and measurements. For instance, in a webpage intended for the Arabic market, the distance must stay in km, and not in miles. In the same way, it is necessary to guarantee that users will be able to process the information correctly regarding rendering, sorting, spelling and hyphenation.

Linguistic issues are not the only ones to be taken into account: content is an essential part of a website, but it is not everything. The way this content is presented, including which colors, sounds, or symbols are used, will greatly influence the way in which the audience perceives it. Localisation issues can be divided into technicalities (engineering aspects such as layout, window resizing, date, time, number and address formats) and cultural issues. Although the latter might also influence the engineering of the web site, they are mainly related to the conception of the site as a means of communication. Cultural issues include information regarding traditions, habits, politics etc; and are usually presented as either text or pictures with colors, symbols, icons, sounds or any other media.

When designing a web page, it is important to be aware that the layout might have to change completely. This might be due either to size changes when translating into another language, or to cultural aspects that make it necessary to design the page differently. Therefore, layout must be flexible and modular so that it can be changed if necessary. All graphics and tables need enough space to resize them if necessary for a certain language.

This is the final part in Website Localization article.

This is the second part of Website localization. To check the first part please click here.

In this part we are going to concentrate on some technical aspects of website localization.

Technical aspects of website localization

When we are browsing a website, there are a number of files in electronic format. The site might be based on html, but there can be other web technology files, document files such as pdf, txt or doc, multimedia elements, files to download such as zip, applications, other documents etc. All these have to be considered when localizing a website.

If we have a static website, it will be usually based on html. The site may also contain graphics such as jpg, gif, tif or swf files that need to be revised to determine if they contain linguistic or cultural information requiring adaptation. In general, it is advisable to separate graphics and text when designing the website in order to reduce the complexity and costs of localization. There might also be embedded scripts in formats such as php, Java, JavaScript, ActiveX etc. and linked files that can be viewed directly on the website, downloaded or executed (if they are applications). All of this additional content will also have to be localized accurately to create a truly “global” website.

The majority of dynamic websites are database-derived and are usually based on a combination of html for the static elements, as well as scripts to request and retrieve data from a database and other scripts to generate either html or xml-based sites to display the new content. These scripts can be run either on the server side or on the client side.

Let’s go through static website and check the main HTML file tags and how can we deal with it during localization

HTML: Stands for Hypertext Markup Language and it was one of the first languages developed to create web pages.

Html is special kind of text document with tags that is used by web browsers to present text and graphics. Beside HTML we can use CSS “Cascading Style Sheet” to apply some styles on HTML elements.

Basically, HTML is formed by pre-defined tags, that is, all web pages written in HTML must use the tags described in the html specification. These tags can be opening tags or closing tags. Opening tags are formed by a “less than” symbol, the name of the tag, for instance html, and the “greater than” symbol. Closing tags have the same structure but include a slash after the “less than” symbol.

Learn More about HTML and CSS.

Website localization challenges and technical issues:

– Head and Body

The elements that have to be localized are found either in the head-element <head> </head> or in the body-element <body> </body>. Both head and body will contain external tags forming an element that will contain text in between, internal tags such as new line or bold format <b></b>, that might need to be moved or edited during the translation process, and tags with translatable attributes, such as metadata or other tags such as <img> to include images or <a> to include a link. In the document head, we might find metadata that contains valuable information to index or identify the web site.

This is possible thanks to the element <meta>, in which different properties can be specified through the use of the attributes name or http-equiv, such as the author of the document, a list of key words etc. While text to be localized is usually included between two tags, that is, inside an element, these metadata is included inside a tag. The attribute “lang” can be used to specify the language of the content of that metadata.

– Tag Protection

Although as we have seen there are some tags that include attributes that need to be localized and some tags that might be changed or removed during the translation process, generally speaking it is important to protect tags either in the engineering phase or during the translation process to avoid translators corrupt the code by mistake.

– Text in graphics

When localizing a website, we might also find graphics, which can be either static or moving. If these graphics contain text overlays, there might arise problems. To avoid them, graphics should be designed in the engineering phases so that they have a separate, editable layer that can be sent to localization. Besides, here it is important to take into account text expansion, since the translation in some languages might not fit in the graphic.

Moving graphics are either animated GIF files or Flash graphics. GIF Files are like films with multiple frames. Here, textual content in each frame needs to be identified and localized in an appropriate tool. Flash graphics employs vector technology to create animated graphics. Here, the source FLA files are necessary for the localization process, since the executable Flash files, EXE or SWF, are difficult to access.

– Hard-coded text

Text inside tags, cannot be easily accessed for translation and therefore will remain in the source language or we should ask the dev. Team to extract the text from the code to translate and send them back to dev. team to insert back to the code, but this is time consumed process.

– Hard-code fonts

If fonts are hard-coded they cannot be changed. This can be especially critical when a certain font does not support all of the characters used in the target language.

– Character Encoding

It is necessary to define in a metatag which character encoding is going to be used to display the text. This is done with the “charset” attribute, which looks like this <META HTTP-EQUIV=”Content-Type” CONTENT=”text/html;CHARSET=ISO 8859-1″> for the western European languages.

The character set will need to be changed accordingly, depending on the target languages.

– Double-byte enablement and bi-directional languages

Asian languages that need more than one byte to represent all their characters, and some languages such as Arabic are read from right to left. This has to be taken into account when designing the web site.

– Text expansion

Text in graphics or in tables might not fit in the localized version. Romanic languages, for instance, tend to expand when translated from English. The general rule is that large sections of text expand by about 30%, whereas single words and terms, depending on the language, can expand by as much as 400%. Therefore, dialog boxes and field lengths have to be designed properly to allow for sufficient space.

– Local-specific content

From the technical point of view, there are some other local-specific issues that have to be considered. It is advisable not to hard code all this information, but to use the system settings of the user’s environment. That way no matter who accesses the site, the information will automatically appear in the proper format for that particular user.

This is the end of the second part of Website Localization. In the third part we’ll talk about language and culture aspects of Website localization.

Nowadays, The Internet and websites in particular, represent an invaluable way for companies to offer their services and products.

The possibility of offering websites to an international audience multiplies potential clients for a company, as well as potential revenues. The relevant internationalization and localization of a company’s website is therefore not only a matter of corporate image, but also of business strategy.

Let’s introduce the meaning of Website Localization as the process of adapting it to the requirements (linguistic, functional and cultural) of the target market.

When we mention localizing a website or a webpage, we refer to adapting it to the linguistic, functional and cultural requirements of the target market. This may vary from basic translation of the online content, to completely redesigning the entire website to cope with the cultural or legal requirements of the target market.

But why should a company embark on the localization of their website? Is it really worth it? Doesn’t everybody read and understand English in this globalized world?

The website of a company is one of the main ways of communicating with the target audience and it may be a key element when entering a new international market. The International Data Corporation, a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets, reports that web users are up to four times more likely to purchase from a site that communicates in the customer‘s language.

Therefore, localization of the website is an issue that has to be considered carefully as part of the strategy of a company.

But the decision to localize is not as straight forward as it may seem, and many aspects need to be considered:

  • What level of localization is going to be achieved?
  • Is all the content going to be localized?

Different content such as corporate information, product and services or service and support may need to be localized in different ways. It is often the case that not all pages of a website need to be translated, and “local” information (for instance special offers or job vacancies) might not be relevant for the main site. Therefore, as we will see, it is very important to keep this in mind when designing the website and decide which pages are going to form the central core and which will be part of the local content.

Another important decision is whether to translate into all languages, or only to the market-relevant ones? It might be a good strategy to establish language tiers depending on the goals of the company, and translate certain contents only to certain language tiers.

Finally, companies can use ROI as an indicator on whether to take the final decision to localize their website or not. In this type of analysis, the costs that have to be invested to implement and maintain the localized version measured against benefits such as higher revenues, increased user satisfaction, or other benefits such as the international brand consistency and the trust in local markets. If this analysis proves positive, the company should seriously consider localizing their website.

Let’s now explain some basic concepts in order to understand the structure of the World Wide Web.

The server is the computer that hosts (stores) the web documents and makes them available to the Internet users. Basically, Internet is a network of hosts that store data whereas clients are the computers that make requests to obtain that data.

URL is the acronym of Uniform Resource Locator and is the unique address of a resource on the Internet.

  • The URL is thus used to find the data we are looking for.
  • A URL is made up by a scheme (such as http or https).
  • Plus, the domain or virtual host on the Internet and the path of the resource.
  • The domain are the “words” used to identify a host or server (instead of using the IP address of the computer).
  • The Domain is composed by an arbitrary combination of characters followed by a dot and a top-level domain such as a regional domain or a domain such as .com, .edu or .org.

We can define a webpage as a single file that can be in different formats, but mostly in HTML. A website is a set of webpages that can also contain images, videos, animations, applications etc., interrelated by links with a common topic and hosted in the same server under the same domain.

Webpages may be static or dynamic. A static webpage contains static content that does not change on a regular basis, while in dynamic webpages, the user interacts with the website and content is created dynamically. For instance, when we are requesting flight schedules data is collected from a database and a file containing the data is generated “on-the-fly.”

The architecture of websites is becoming increasingly sophisticated. While ten years ago a website would comprise basic HTML and other files in one or more directories, a modern website may have a database for either specific (or all) content, or may use a Content Management System.

Structure of Multilingual Websites

  • Files
  • Folders
  • Content Management System(CMS)
  • Structure “Central Core and Local Market”
  • Storing of localized version
  • Access to localized versions

herefore, it is very important to design the structure of the website before translation, in order to reduce potential localization problems such as linking, references to other files or creating, deleting and updating information. Areas such as technical complexity, download times (especially considering international markets where Internet access is expensive), and the content layout need to be examined. If this job is not done properly, the process of converting a monolingual site into a bilingual or multilingual site can present difficult challenges.

When designing a website for localization, it is important to distinguish between the core content (which is relevant to all markets) and the locale-specific content, since this will imply different localization workflows. Secondly, it is necessary to establish some type of file-folder architecture, such as storing different file formats in different folders, with a folder for each language. This can help the translator, project manager or web coordinator maintain the site more easily, by being able to synchronize the updates across all languages at once. Another option is to store locally different languages on the same page, which is especially useful for countries that have more than one national language. A third approach is to store each language site in its own specific country. This makes maintenance a slower, more cumbersome procedure, but may speed up download times locally. It is especially important here to maintain a rigorous control on the locally developed content in order to avoid inconsistencies among different countries. Finally, another way of making a localized version available is to design the webpage to detect and use the language settings of the operating system where it is going to be viewed.

An organized folder structure to store translated files is especially important since there is a lot of file transfer involved in localizing a website. As the webpages are translated and the site is updated, controlling the file transfer procedure becomes necessary.

This is the end of the first part of Website Localization. In the second part we’ll talk about technical aspects of Website localization.

Now a days, we see rapid changes in software development life cycle this to decrease the time gap between the kick off and the release for the projects.
This make the developers introduce the newest smart development model namely Agile that set the other software development models aside like Waterfall model as it have a lot of constrains that lost a lot of time during the project cycle and phases.
In this article we’ll introduce the difference between the traditional model “Waterfall” and the modern one “Agile” to understand the benefits and the modern one.

Traditional Localization Life Cycle “Waterfall Model”
If we asked about the activities essential for successful development cycle, it will be as the following:
– Requirements Specification
– Architectural, Component and detailed Designs
– Implementation
– Unit, Integration and acceptance Testing
– Installation and Maintenance

In Waterfall model the activates performed in sequence, result of one flow into the next. We can said the model is simple but unworkable as the fundamental flaw assumption that each stage “Activates” must be completed before the next one occurs.
Below chart clarify the mechanism of Waterfall model and how we need to complete each stage separately before go to the next stage.

Now, if we think in this model we’ll find it doesn’t fit with today’s business for these reasons:
– The activates performed in sequence
– Once the project is in Testing stage, there is no way to go back and change something that was done in the Requirement stage for example.
– Cannot fit with Object Oriented Projects.
– Poor model for ongoing and long projects.
– Not doable for the risky projects that need Risk Management Plan.

Actually, the Waterfall model reached the 57 years mark. Conceived and refined in the age of slow business change, with inexpensive analysts and costly hardware. Today, the world of revolutionary business change doesn’t really allow the time and manpower for this model.

Modern Localization Life Cycle “Agile Model”
With Agile Model, we can see that the projects split into a series of small projects named “Sprints” . these sprints are designed to show verifiable progress. At the end of each sprint the output should be a measurable and testable that can be evaluated.
Agile Model always use techniques to track and monitoring the progress of the project, this to allow the project managers to update their plans according to the feedbacks and the results of each sprint.
If we look closely to Agile model with Localization cycle, we’ll find it depended on fast turnaround, as the translatable files need to be merged with the Project build to complete the process of testing and start releasing project versioning.
Below chart clarify the mechanism of Agile model in one sprint:

To Achieve the fast turnaround process with optimal Agile localization, I believe we need some main criteria that help a lot during Localization, here are the main points that need to be available in localization industry that work with Agile model:
– Automation
With Agile model, we cannot afford to send translation requests by traditional way through e-mails or on via packages that send to SLVs to translate then merge it again to the build.
All translation work orders “Hand-offs” should be automated and managed through a centralized location.
– Online Translation System
We can gain a lot of benefits with Online Localization Platform that build in CMS as this will facilitate the work to localization project managers and achieve the following:
• Tracking of all present and past translation projects
• Scheduling of work and checking the status of translation progress
• Complete reports that analyze the translation history
– Recycling
By supporting Recycling using legacy approved strings, Translators will not need to translate every sentences from scratch.
The Recycling can be allowed in Agile Localization Model by using Online Translation Engine, this can help translators to use the previous translation and speed up the translation process.
– Terminology online Repository
By having the Approved terms that can suggested automatically to the translator during their work, this will make the process of translation faster than before as the translators don’t need to search about the approved terms anymore.

Benefits of using Agile model on Localization
– Rapid and Continuous Delivery: As Agile model have a Continuous Localization platform “CLP”, The translation will take place daily and delivered as soon as possible to the development team to integrate it with the i18n project.
– Faster Launch: The localized software can be launched to the new market faster as its not being localized in on big cycle, but into small sprints that can released in a small period to the market.
– Increase Quality: The translators now have all resources that they need during translation in one place, from legacy approved strings that found in the TM till Approved terminology. This help translators a lot to achieve a high score of localization quality.