What is localisation?

Date
Nov
16
20181116

What is localisation?

Localisation is a term you have probably come across quite a lot when searching for a suitable language service company. The term is often used interchangeably with translation but both practices are quite different.

While translation is the process of translating words or text from one language to another localisation involves changing how content or a product are presented so that they represnt a certain target audience. To fully localise a message you of course need to translate the text but this is only one of a number of activities you can take to fully localise your message.   

To fully localise your message you may use certain images and graphics that will resonate with your target audience. You may also change existing graphics in a piece of collateral so that the images are more relevant to your target audience. For instance if your website has a background image of the cityscape where your business operates and you translate that webpage into French you may also change the cityscape image to a city in French to localise that webpage.  

Formatting is also another important consideration when localising your message. The way things like the formatting for phone numbers, addresses and dates are treated can place a really important role in how your message is received by your reader. So for instance in the United states the date is commonly written in the order of month – day – year while in this part of the world we commonly write the date in the format of day – month – year. When adapting texts for a certain audience this is something to keep in mind as incorrect formatting can really jump of the page in all the wrong ways.

The content itself can also be modified to be more relevant for the particular target audience. An example for this would be a healthy eating guide. Guides of this nature often list commonly eaten fruit and veg. To localise a poster of this nature you might change to fruit and veg that is more commonly eaten in certain place to give the poster a more local feel and to show that is has been created for a certain audience.

Organisations decide to localise their message because it helps them better achieve thir goals as their message will likely resonate better with their target audience. As the content is more appealing it means that the receiver will more likely have a positive interaction with the content.

Often the term localisation is shortened to L10N. You may also come across #L10N on Twitter too so look out for that.