The Ultimate Guide to Localization

By the simplest definition, localization means adapting a digital experience for users who speak other languages or live in other countries. Many customer experiences require this type of adaptation. Examples include software products, web or mobile apps, websites, e-commerce, e-learning, and more. Localization covers far more than just translation. However, adapting the message is usually a part of adapting a digital experience.

To compare localization with related terms, use the following image. With translation, you’re adapting a message. In localization, you’re adapting an experience. Internationalization requires you to adapt your code. And globalization requires you to adapt the framework you’re using.

localization

These terms can easily be confused with one another. Often, they are used interchangeably. However, they have very specific meanings for practitioners.

Common Questions on Localization

Localization is a professional discipline. It straddles the fields of linguistics, engineering, and marketing. Many people who go into this area love languages. Usually, they are also curious about technology. They tend to have an eye for technical detail. They can also work creatively to craft messages and experiences. Their goal is to make experiences locally relevant for customers in target markets.

If you are new to this topic, you can easily learn more. Below, find a list of common questions. Each question links to an article from this blog that covers each topic.

  1. What is a clear localization definition I can use at my company?
  2. How can I create a localization strategy?
  3. Where should it live within a company?
  4. How should a localization manager help drive growth?
  5. What is the best way to measure localization impact?
  6. How do you measure the value of localization?
  7. Why do companies use word count for professional translation services?
  8. How can I ensure my translated content is inclusive?
  9. What is transcreation and how does it differ?
  10. How can I best work with translation companies?
  11. Why don’t more marketers like to localize?
  12. How can localizers best collaborate with marketers?
  13. How can we localize with an inbound approach?
  14. Why should software companies care about internationalization?
  15. What are the most important web application localization best practices?
  16. How many languages do the biggest SaaS companies offer?
  17. How can I use SaaS metrics to drive localization?
  18. Why should my company translate web content?

Common Questions about Internationalization and Globalization

If you’ve answered most of your questions on localization, here are some questions that may help you dive into related topics in more detail, such as internationalization (adapting code) and globalization (adapting frameworks).

Internationalization

  1. Why should software companies care about internationalization?
  2. What are the most important web application localization best practices?
  3. Why are SaaS companies built for global growth?

Globalization

  1. How can I help drive a global mindset at my company?
  2. How can I speed up crossing the chasm into local markets?
  3. How can my company boost local sales velocity?
  4. How can I drive globalization within product at a global technology company?
  5. Why do global extensibility and local inclusion matter?
  6. How can I determine product-market fit by country?
  7. What does an international product manager do?
  8. How are unicorn company contenders driving globalization of the tech sector?

Nataly Kelly

Nataly leads localization at HubSpot and has previously held diverse roles in marketing, international operations and strategy, research, product development, and localization. She writes for Harvard Business Review on topics of international marketing and business. Nataly grew up in rural Illinois, lived in Ecuador, and resides in Boston (for now).

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