Localization – An Introduction

Localization – An Introduction

Localization (“l10n”) is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. The aim of localization is to give a product the look and feel of having been created specifically for a target market, no matter their language, culture, or location.

'Localization' - An Introduction


Welcome to Protelo’s blog on ‘Localization’. Please feel free to add your valuable comments, views or any other vital information about Globalization at the end of this page in the comments section. Thanks in advance for reading through.

What is Localization?

Localization is the adaptation of a product or service to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population’s “look-and-feel.”

Localization is often confused with translation, but these terms actually mean two different things. Translation is the process of converting text from one language to another. Translation is one aspect of localization, but localization is more extensive.

Localization involves adapting other elements to a target market, including:

Localization can consist of the following

  • Translation of the text from original language to target language
  • Adapting design and layout to fit into translated text
  • Modifying content to fit the tastes, cultural aspects, and consumption habits of other markets
  • Adjusting to local regulations and legal requirements
  • Adapting colors and graphics to target market
  • Converting to local requirements (such as currencies and units of measure)
  • Using proper local formats, e.g. dates, addresses, punctuation, symbols, and phone numbers

A successfully localized service or product is one that appears to have been developed within the local culture. Examples of localization include changing changing z’s to s’s for British English. In addition to idiomatic language translation, such details as time zones, money, national holidays, local color sensitivities, product or service name translation, gender roles and geographic references must all be considered.

Ideally, a product or service is developed so that localization is relatively easy to achieve. The anticipation of a localization requirement is sometimes referred to as an internationalization effort. The process of first enabling a product to be localized and then localizing it for different national audiences is sometimes known as product globalization.

In many business contexts, the word localization is be shortened to L10n.  The “10” represents the ten letters between the word’s first letter, “L,” and its last letter, “n.”

Localization is an important part of every new foreign market entry, because it ensures that the brand speaks the same language as the potential customer.

Although every one of us is unique, there are certain aspects that both unite and separate people into tribes and groups. Geographics, demographics, beliefs, opinions, languages, and experiences are elements that define who we are. Localization is the way to adjust and modify content in a way that resonates well in the target audience.

Localization and its classification

It is possible to localize almost everything. Although the term localization is often associated with software localization, the same principles and processes can be used with other materials as well. Here are some examples of successful localization of different types of items.

Website localization

Facebook is a very popular social media website. In addition to the clever concept which clearly has demand, part of its success came from early localization. Facebook is also a fine example of power of crowdsourcing -since 2008 different language versions of Facebook site are created with the help of crowdsourcing. Language after language, Facebook has gained a global user population.

The screenshots below show that the website is available in dozens of languages while the overall user experience and brand is kept uniform across different cultures. The localization is clearly visible in the text, but the date formats are also customized. (‘Month Day Year’ in English (US) vs. ‘Jour Mois Année’ in French.

Document localization

IKEA is an international furniture and home decoration brand that started to sell products with catalogs and distance selling in the 1940s. Although its sales have since shifted to department stores and the Internet, catalogs are still an essential part of the IKEA experience.

Homes differ in sizes, styles, and importance in different countries and cultures. This is why IKEA doesn’t use the same catalog version everywhere. In the examples below, the text, currencies, layout, prices, and even products have been localized to meet the customer expectations and needs in the locale. Still, it is easy to see that they are all catalogs of the same brand.

Application localization

From the above example, the app store has been localized into a dozen of languages. Applications like this are often quite easy to use when localized for the global audience. Nonetheless, even the simplest application may lose its full potential without localization. 

Product localization

Here you can see an example from the soft drinks industry. The product’s design layout is changed differently to match the taste of the target audience outside the English speaking area. Sometimes it is reasonable to even localize the product itself and not just the written material.

In all these examples, the versatility of localization is shown. The main goal of any localization process should be adopting the local culture into the international business.

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