What Is Localization (l10n): How to Build Scalable Localization Processes and Strategy

19 mins read

The definition of localization

Localization is the process of making a product or service fit the cultural, linguistic, and other needs of a specific target market. Localization is an important part of growing a global business because it helps companies connect with customers in different parts of the world, improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, and, as a result, generate more revenue. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of localization, the difference between translation and localization, how localization works, and how to create a strategy.

Why Is Localization Important?

Localization lets businesses reach more people, get their customers more involved, and get closer to their audience. Consider a business that manufactures shoes and wants to start selling them in Japan. If the company only showcases its products on its English website, it will miss out on a huge potential customer base. By localizing its website and product information, translating them into the Japanese language, and tailoring the content to reflect cultural differences, the company is more likely to connect with customers and sell its products.

Localization is also essential for maintaining brand consistency across different markets. By adapting content and messaging for each market, businesses can ensure that their audience receives a consistent and meaningful message that is tailored to their language and cultural preferences.

How Is Localization Different from Translation?

Localization and translation are often used interchangeably. However, they are two distinct concepts. Translation is the process of changing a source language into a target language. Localization, on the other hand, is the process of making the translated content fit the needs of a specific market. Localization takes cultural differences, idioms, images, text length, measurement units, and other local factors into account when determining the meaning, tone, and context of the translated content. In other words, localization is more than just translating words; it also changes the whole user experience to fit the needs of the local market.

What Does Localization Involve?

Localization involves a range of activities, including translating the text into different languages, adapting images, graphics, and layout to read right to left or left to right, and coding to adjust for currency, date and time format, and other cultural differences. It can also involve reviewing legal and regulatory requirements and making the necessary adjustments to comply with them.

Key Considerations for Localization

Localization can be a complicated process, and businesses should think about a few key things to make sure it goes well. These include:

  • Target Audience: It’s essential to understand the target audience’s language, culture, and preferences to adapt the content appropriately. In the perfect world, this should involve conducting market research, gathering customer feedback, and analyzing the competitive landscape. You can create separate user personas for new markets to understand their specific needs and adapt your communication accordingly.
  • Linguistic and Cultural Differences: Localization involves much more than just translating words from one language to another. To be effective, content must be adapted using local idioms, phrasing, tone, and cultural references to resonate with the target audience. Images and videos should also be localized.
  • Availability of Local Resources and Expertise: Finding a reliable local partner with in-depth knowledge of the target market and a local team can help large-scale projects ensure high-quality localization. If you’re a small project, you can consider talking to your local customers, colleagues, or local translation and localization experts.
  • Clear Goals and Objectives: Establishing clear goals and objectives is essential for successful localization. This can include creating a localization roadmap, setting realistic timelines, and identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will measure the success of the project. You need to understand what your long-term goals are. Your priority might be to enter a new market, increase brand awareness, improve activation, and retention rates, or something else.

Importance of Cultural Awareness in Localization

Cultural awareness is an essential aspect of localization. Businesses should aim to understand the customs, beliefs, and values of the target audience to adapt the content accordingly.

Failure to respect cultural differences can negatively impact the customer experience, damage brand reputation, and result in lost business opportunities. By demonstrating cultural awareness and sensitivity, businesses can build trust and credibility with their target audience, improve their brand reputation, and create strong relationships with their customers.

That is why having a local partner, doing research, or hiring a local team is something worth considering for your main markets.

How the Localization Process Works

For starters, you can choose one aspect of your business to localize. It can be a website, app, blog, marketing & sales assets, help center, or any other customer-facing content. Your project can expand pretty quickly, so you should create processes that will allow you to scale.

Let’s go over some basics of localization for different types of content.

Localization of the Website

Localizing a website means translating the website’s text, images, and multimedia files into the target language is part of the process of localizing a website. In addition to translating the website into the target market’s language, localization may also involve changing the layout and design of the website to fit the target market’s culture. This could mean making changes to the colors, fonts, and pictures to make them more appealing to the local audience.

Software Localization

Software localization is the process of changing a software product so that it fits the language, cultural, and technical needs of a certain market. The first step is to figure out who the target market is and what languages, regional differences, and cultural differences may affect the product. Once the target market is determined, the localization process involves translating the software interface, help documentation, and user manuals into the target language.

In addition to translating the language, software localization may also involve changing the product to meet local technical standards, such as the way dates and times are displayed, the currency used, and the way lengths are measured. Other localization considerations may include user interface design, colors, and images that may be offensive or culturally inappropriate in the target market.

User Manuals and Help Documentation

Product documentation localization is the process of adapting product manuals, user guides, and other technical documents to meet the language, cultural, and technical needs of a specific market. The process starts with understanding the target market’s language and technical requirements.

Documentation localization typically involves translating the technical content into the target language. Product documentation localization may involve more than just translating the text into the local language. It may also involve changing the technical content to meet local technical standards, such as date and time formats, measurement systems, and legal rules. Other things to think about when localizing the document include changing the format, layout, and illustrations to fit the tastes of the local audience.

Customer Support and Service

Customer support and service require localized communication to ensure customer satisfaction. Crowdin can help businesses translate emails, phone scripts, and online chat messages into different languages, ensuring that customers can communicate with support teams in their native language.

Marketing Localization

Localizing marketing means changing marketing materials so that they meet the language, cultural, and technical needs of a certain market. The process starts with understanding the target market’s preferences, including language, cultural nuances, and advertising regulations.

Marketing localization may also involve translating advertising copy, taglines, and slogans into the target language. Such localization may also involve changing the marketing materials to fit the cultural preferences of the target market, in addition to translating the language. This could mean using local celebrities, symbols, or images that the local audience knows and cares about. It may also involve adjusting the marketing message to better align with the cultural values and beliefs of the target market.

Best Practices for Localization

When it comes to localization, there are some best practices businesses need to follow to ensure a successful transition into global markets. These include:

  • Hire native speakers: When localizing content for different countries, it’s important to hire professional native translators who understand the language and cultural nuances of the target audience. This will ensure that your content is well-written, accurate, and resonates with the intended audience.
  • Choose the right localization platform: Choosing a localization platform like Crowdin that is able to process multiple languages at once and manage text strings efficiently can help streamline the entire localization process.
  • Understand regional dialects: Knowing regional dialects within each language is important for ensuring accuracy and understanding between different cultures and regions. Localization tools can help identify regional differences in language usage and provide suggestions on how best to localize content for various markets.
  • Review your localized content before launch: It would be a good idea to review your website using In-context to make sure everything looks good before going live. For mobile apps, you can use the Real-Time Preview feature of Crowdin’s mobile SDK for Android and iOS apps. Running QA checks can also help you reduce typos and other errors. Investing in quality assurance services can also be beneficial in this regard so that you can be sure your content is error-free before it goes live.
  • Adapt marketing materials: When localizing marketing materials such as website copy, emails, or ads, it’s important to make sure that you adapt them for each market according to local preferences, values, standards, regulations, etc., rather than simply translating them word-for-word from one language into another. For example, when translating an email, it’s important to see the whole file instead of translating scattered sentences without context.

By following these best practices when localizing content for global markets, businesses can ensure their messaging is effective and resonates with their target audiences worldwide.

The Importance of a Localization Platform in the Localization Process

A localization platform is a tool that enables businesses to streamline the localization process by automating tasks, centralizing communication, and managing translation workflows. This platform allows businesses to easily upload and manage content, collaborate with translators and other stakeholders, and track the progress of their localization projects in real-time.

By using a localization platform, businesses can save time, reduce costs, and improve the quality of their localized content. The platform enables businesses to efficiently manage translation memory and glossaries, ensuring consistent and accurate translations across all their content.

Why Choose Crowdin as Your Localization Platform?

Crowdin is a cloud-based localization platform that helps businesses streamline their localization processes and manage translations more efficiently. With its user-friendly interface and wide range of features, Crowdin has become a popular choice for businesses of all sizes that want to expand their reach and communicate with their global customers.

One of the main benefits of using Crowdin is its automation features. The platform automates many of the time-consuming tasks involved in the localization process, such as translation memory management, glossary management, and file versioning. This not only saves time but also ensures consistency across all localized content.

Another benefit of Crowdin is its collaboration capabilities. The platform allows businesses to work with multiple translators and stakeholders simultaneously, making it easy to manage complex translation projects. Its built-in communication tools, including comments and notifications, also help ensure everyone is on the same page and up-to-date on project progress.

Finally, Crowdin offers integrations with many popular content management systems and development tools, as well as a wide list of other integrations, making it easy to integrate localization into your existing workflow. The platform also supports over 300 file formats, so you can localize almost any type of content.

If you are looking for a localization platform that is easy to use, offers automation and collaboration features, and integrates with your existing workflow, Crowdin is a great choice. Its robust feature set, flexibility, and scalability make it an ideal solution for businesses looking to expand their reach and connect with customers around the world.

Creating a Localization Strategy

To create an effective localization strategy, businesses need to understand the need for localization, the benefits of having a localization strategy, and its characteristics. To understand why you require a localization strategy, you need to know that localization is essential for the growth of a global business. It enables businesses to enter new markets, connect with local customers, and increase revenue.

A localization strategy can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, bring in more money, and give you an edge over your competitors. It can help businesses change their products or services to meet the needs of customers in their area. This can help them stand out from their competitors.

A successful localization strategy has clear goals and focuses on user experience and quality. It also has a deep understanding of local customs and cultural norms.

Learn how to reach new markets by localizing your content in more than one language.

Measuring the Effectiveness of a Localization Strategy

This Crowdin Quick Take gives you 3 key measures for translation success and answers the question, “How do you know if your languages are doing well?”

1. Measures of Language Quality

Metrics for localization quality measure the quality of the translations. Linguistic quality assurance (LQA) is important for getting objective feedback and keeping an eye on the quality of translations, both at a certain point in time and over time.

Traditional LQA measures mostly looked at things like terms, wrong versions, gaps, and changes. The DQF-MQM Error Typology from TAUS took the best parts of other models and added flow, style, and veracity as new categories.

2. Metrics for the User Experience

Accuracy, style, and ease of language are important, but only if your customers can understand what you are saying. User Experience with Localization Metrics shows how well regional content connects with customers in different areas and locations.

Make your own measurements for the parts of the localized user experience that are most important to you and your business. Ask your users if they think your brand sounds normal in their language and if the translation is right. What do they want to get better at?

3. Metrics for Business Growth

Localization doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it’s an important part of a brand’s plan to go into new areas and take them over. Localization can use business development metrics to improve the company’s globalization plan. In each area, how much does the company make? What languages or places are getting more or less popular? Should that be factored into your translation budget or plan, or could it be a sign that there might be a problem with the translated content?

How much is a new client or regional market worth, and does that change to support the cost of adding a new language or version for localization? By using these three key metrics in your own localization success model, you can learn more about the value of your languages and localization processes right now and find ways to integrate localization more deeply into the core activities of your brand in the future.


In summary, localization is a critical component of a business’s global strategy. By adapting content, services, and products to meet the linguistic and cultural preferences of different markets, businesses can engage with a broader audience, build brand loyalty, and increase revenue. The demand for localization services is growing rapidly as businesses look to expand their reach and cater to a global audience.

Use Crowdin’s apps to localize your video subtitles.

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Julia Herasymchuk

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