When developing a website or software application for global markets, there are two aspects that need to be considered: internationalization and localization. Read on to learn more about the difference between these two processes.
A product is internationalized when it is designed so that minimal engineering changes are needed when the product goes through localization (more about this below). Areas of consideration include photos and graphics that can be changed as appropriate for different markets; text and software strings are written with translation in mind; allowing for text expansion and re-flow when necessary (i.e. labels and menus); and the use of different currencies and time formats.
Localization is more than just translating text into a different language. It is concerned with adapting the language for a particular geographic market. Text is translated with local customs, language variants and cultural contexts in mind. For example, colors, words and numbers that are considered lucky or unlucky will vary based on the geographical area or target market. It is also possible to inadvertently use language in one area that is considered offensive in another, even though both areas technically speak the same language.