What is Localization?
Baidu beats Google in China. Urdu-speaking gamers favor racing games over strategic games. CNN has separate programming for Latinos in the U.S. What do these things have in common? Language.
Baidu does better than Google because it looks and feels fully native to the Chinese-speaking audience. Urdu speakers can't get many games in their own language, so they turn to racing games, which are easy to understand. CNN knows that there are more than 55 million Latinos in the U.S. who want their own language shows. These are examples of localization.
Localization (also referred to as "l10n") is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. Translation is only one of several elements of the localization process. In addition to translation, the localization process may also include:
- Adapting graphics to target markets
- Modifying content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of other markets
- Adapting design and layout to properly display translated text
- Converting to local requirements (such as currencies and units of measure)
- Using proper local formats for dates, addresses, and phone numbers
- Addressing local regulations and legal requirements
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.
The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) is comprised of members worldwide who specialize in localization, translation, internationalization, and globalization. Every day they help companies, non-profit organizations, and governments communicate effectively to global audiences. They do this by making sure the content of their clients’ communications is culturally sensitive and presented in languages that their audiences understand.