Localizing User Experience (UX) - How UX and Localization Go Hand in Hand
We are releasing a new series of articles, “Content With Purpose.” Twelve dedicated localization-focused articles on helping you connect and grow worldwide. Last month’s article focused on localization – where does linguistic testing fit? This month we look towards localizing user experience (UX).
User experience is critical to ensuring that your users are satisfied with the product or service you have to offer them. One aspect often overlooked by the UX evaluation is the importance of localization and how it may improve user interaction and integration. Is your user experience truly optimized? If you haven’t been taking localization into account, it may not be as optimized as you had hoped.
Table of Contents
Best Practices in Localization: What You Need to Know
There are several things to consider as you ensure when localizing your user experience.
Integrate Localization from the Beginning of the UX Strategy
Localization is the process of adapting your content so that it is appropriate for people from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds. Effective localization isn’t just about changing key locations and languages. It’s about creating unique content for different groups based on their origins and cultural nuances.
Start with localization as a foundational part of your UX strategy. Prioritize, rather than make it an afterthought. When you wait until the end to add those critical localization efforts, it often leaves out customers from your diverse customer base and makes them feel as though they aren’t as crucial to your company.
By incorporating localization efforts into your design, it may make it challenging. For example, your text layout may need to be adaptable to fit multiple language needs. Early localization can help customers feel more appreciated and ensure your content fits, even in different languages.
Internationalize Your Content
As your brand expands beyond the domestic market, you want to ensure your content is prepared and designed for internationalization. You need content created specifically for users in international markets who will be using your product. They don’t want to view rough translations of your content or see side-by-side content, which makes it clear you started with one language, then translated to theirs. They want to see the specific content designed for them and their needs.
As you create your content, make a habit of creating it for your diverse international market requirements. Assume that your content will need to go to that broad market and that you need to create it to meet those goals. Consider all the elements of your content. Are you using images that are appropriate for users in all demographics? Are you using globally-recognized symbols? Ensure the images, icons, and content you use most often are appropriate for that larger international audience. Using confusing symbols or images may change how your customers experience that content and ultimately interfere substantially with user experience.
Engage in Content Localization
Content localization is much more than just translating your content into another language. It’s also about creating content designed expressly for your target audience in other locations. You may need to consider things like:
- What icons you’re using
- The images and symbols you’ve put together for your designs: Remember that some images may have different connotations for different audiences.
- Text in images should be altered or translated for an international audience: Consider using images without text to create a better overall user experience.
- Religious symbols which may require careful consideration or non-use in some parts of the world
- Cultural ideas of modesty in specific geographic areas: Carefully consider what expectations of modesty all your users might have and how to best offer images that fit those expectations.
- Culturally-appropriate dress to fit the needs of your users: Keep in mind that part of the localization process is helping your customers recognize themselves in those images.
Content localization is more than bringing in a translator to review your content. It’s about ensuring that your content is sensitive and inclusive to all members of your target audience, particularly as you spread out to a larger, international demographic.
Linguistic and Cultural Nuances in UX Design
In order to create an effective, culturally-sensitive UX design, there are several things to consider. Many companies start by simply directly translating their content. However, several cultural elements may play heavily into a compelling user experience.
Jokes and humor are far from universal. Some jokes simply do not translate well from one language to the next, and not everyone will appreciate the humor you try to put into your products.
Suppose you’re looking to add humor to the user’s experience of your content. In that case, you must have a native speaker, and someone with the appropriate cultural background review that content to ensure that it fits the user’s ultimate expectations.
Sayings and Expressions
Many sayings or idiomatic expressions native speakers of one language use daily will not necessarily be understood in another. Some sayings may simply not translate directly, and others may not make sense to other cultures. If you use any idioms or sayings in your content, it’s essential, where possible, to replace them with a native expression that will make sense to the people using that content.
Modesty and Clothing
Different cultural groups may have very different expectations around clothing and expected modesty. Those expectations may be very gendered or based on culturally-rooted expectations.
When you use images of people in your content, it’s vital to ensure that they fit those cultural expectations of modesty. Furthermore, consider what people in your target area wear, which could affect the images you choose to use.
What units does your target demographic use to express time, measurement, or currency? How does the country format its dates? If improperly formatted, this can create a jarring shift in the user’s experience of your content, which may change how the user views your content.
Media and Popular Culture
The popular things in one culture may not be popular in another. Different books, TV shows, and movies may be popular from one group to the next. Pay careful attention to the references and imagery you use since they could significantly impact your users’ experience of your content.
As you localize your content, it’s also essential to look at the legal requirements for a given country, including what conditions you will need to meet for your content to be visible and usable in those countries. Pay attention to any legal requirements from the front end so you can design content that will be accessible to your users.
Do You Need Help Localizing Your Content?
You want your international users to have the same high-quality experience with your brand that your domestic users experience. By incorporating localization at the earliest stages of your design process, you can create a highly compelling user experience that will better reflect their needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve those localization goals.