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  • Writer's pictureIgal Stolpner

Why you should never use the term "Translate", when launching a new language

More and more businesses understand that one way to increase their user base is not necessarily by increasing their market share, but by increasing their market.

Whether you run an eCommerce site, a blog, or a B2B SaaS product, by having a dedicated version of your site to another country or language, you can increase your overall market.

Launching a new language, or going global is a little trickier than what most people think. Yes, just by translating your main content to a 2nd language, you will begin becoming (more) relevant in that language. But from there, the way is still very, very long.

Think about your favorite web products, those that you use very often. It could be a professional magazine or your favorite online store, would you still love it as much if it would only be translated? With no further customization to your local taste, needs, and context?

Things are a little different between various countries, and in some of them, mainly for cultural reasons, users prefer their own local companies. The list of these countries isn't small, and just to include a few I'd go with Brazil, Russia, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and of course--China.

People from these countries are usually a little bit more sensitive towards their own language and local firms. But it doesn't mean that the average Italian or Israeli wouldn't care about perfect localization. When taking a product from the original language to another one, we need to tailor it to the preferences of the local people. We need to tailor it to their context, need examples of big fashion brands that used symbols that have hurt some specific countries? Because I can find a few.

The list of things to localize is quite long, and the basics such as a local currency or local formatting really is just the beginning.

In almost all cases, I'd always suggest running a localized version of a site by a local person who can understand and relate to the product. Perfecting the dialect is important, but the local person needs to experience the full experience, to spot any additional changes that are required.

Have you ever noticed how the Germans use 2.000 while in other countries it's 2,000? Did you know that in Europe 8/5/2021 is May 8th, while in the US it's August 5th?

Or maybe that Koreans use blue to point something positive, the equivalent of "our" green?

And how about different taste in clothes?

Does summer really mean the same everywhere? It's not ever Summer everywhere right now!

Charging in pound sterling isn't enough if you forget to switch "color" to "colour", and trust me, the Brits are sensitive to these stuff!

From all the things you need to do when going global, translating text really became the easiest part. From how easy and cheap it is to hire freelancers these days, to how great services like DeepL, Amazon, or Google Translate have become.

Understanding the local taste, the small nuances, and local preferences is what takes a global expansion project from just translation (whether it's good, not so much, or even great), to fully localized and ready-to-rock a new market project.

And as I once wrote, the only way to become truly global, is to make sure you're truly local everywhere you go.

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