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Language localization to reach a global audience

Saturday, October 4th, 2014 by Servage

Covering a wide range of audiences is the dream of every global level website. Language localization is the best way to cover maximum audiences. However, designing a multilingual website is a bit different thing and this post exposes the best practices in this regard.

Language localization in Web Designing

If you are owning a local business and have a website for a limited audience, your local language or English is great. If you are a global player you will have varieties of audiences across the globe with different mother tongs and culture, so you will have a challenging task for the website development and hiring any inexperienced freelancer or a company is fatal in the long run.

Generally, our concept about the language of websites is that English is an international language and it has broad acceptability. Literally, thats true, but never practically. Native English speakers are only round about 5% of the world population. Against these, nearly 90% of the world population speaks only 21 different languages out of somewhat hundred languages.

Thus, it is mandatory to cover these major languages according to your marketing planning in order to meet the needs for global audiences at once. However, each website has its own set of regions to cover so sets of languages. From a website designers point of view, when we think of more than one language, our web development strategies and planning changes accordingly. First, let’s see which factors affect our web development when we consider multilingual website designing.

 

Text Volume

Generally, you may have observed that when an English sentence is translated into another language like any European language, text volume is usually expanded somewhere between 120% to 150%. If we take a mean of 30% expansion, we can cover additional volume in our content planning, layout planning, and most importantly user experience planning.

At this juncture, I would like to clarify that merely responsive layouts or responsive sheets is not enough to offer excellent user experiences when multilingual content is published. We as web programmers, have to think about the coding level changes. For instance, we use CSS extensively in responsive web designing and development. Therefore, our unit selection becomes critical and we should avoid absolute units like px and in. The flexible units like em and percentage are the better choice against the fixed units for a responsive layout.

 

UI Elements

Texts on many UI elements like buttons also need to be changed during translation. Therefore, designing UI elements for multilingual websites is a bit tricky and you can’t code for a fixed width. There are many ways to offer flexible and responsive designs for such UI elements. Using minimum and maximum width declaration is one of the best CSS practices today. If you wish to use JavaScript or media queries you have wider choices to do so in coding.

 

Fonts

No doubt, we are a fan of Arial, Times New Roman and Sans type fonts for responsive designing in English, but what about other languages. If you are a seasoned responsive web designer, you might have noticed that the best performance comes from the Unicode Fonts.

There are a range of characters, letters, digits, and various symbols in Unicode that makes them perfect and excellent candidates for choices of web fonts. The same is true for other languages so try to avoid other language font that are not supporting Unicode and their standards.

 

Images

Images without texts are acceptable in all languages because they deliver visual messages effectively. However, when you add texts in images and the texts is important for the message then problems arise. Therefore, always avoid writing any sort of text in images during multilingual website designing, instead use smart symbols so we can get more.
References & More Reading
Building Localization-Ready Websites: Tips and Things to Consider
Unicode font

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