Translation & Localization – How can you tell if your content needs localization? When is ONLY translation needed?

The time will come when you have content that needs localizing. You may have this realization because your company has an international presence, or because you want to expand your services into new markets. At this point, it will be clear that in order for your content to travel easily and connect with your target audience, it will have to be localized. In order to accomplish this, a number of steps will be necessary.

Localization involves adapting the content in question so that it provides an equal amount of value to end-users in a new locale. This may include altering the names of currencies or other region-specific attributes such as employing a different color palette. It may also require the text to be translated from its original language into that of the target destination.


There are several ways to guarantee the usefulness of your content across cultural and linguistic barriers. These include the following.

Ensure that the language of your content is tailored to your audience. Modifying the language to suit that of your target audience does not necessarily require a complete conversion into a foreign language like French or Mandarin; sometimes this may be as simple as modifying the spelling of certain words only (as when differentiating UK and US spelling). Other times it may require changing the phrasing of sentences that are idiomatic.

Formatting & Design

When localizing your website, brochure or other content, formatting and design alone can tip-off your audience that you are involved in international business. For this reason, when making formatting and design choices you must be mindful of the sometimes-significant differences in cultural attitudes that can positively or negatively bias the reactions of your intended audience with regard to your content.

A successful localization should conform to the local audience’s social conventions in a way that seems as natural as possible. Ensure that your design is done appropriately such that it will align with the people you are intending to reach. Create graphics and work with icons that are understood by your target audience.

Take the culture of your target audience into consideration. The visual content and the colors of the people you are trying to get across to should be put into consideration. In different cultures, visual metaphors and colors have different meanings; therefore, carry out some research before you decide on the ones to use. You need to do this so that you do not offend the sensitivities of the people with which you are trying to communicate.


Oftentimes only translation is needed when you just need to substitute words from one language to the other. Therefore, one has to be careful in differentiating between localization and translation. Localization has to do with translating and modifying a product or service offering from the source language to the language of the target audience, with the modification being the key aspect of it. Translation simply involves converting the source language to the target language such that it can be understood in the proper context.