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Website translation considerations in a multi-device world

Website translation considerations in a multi-device world [Photo: iStock/JohnnyGreig]
in Retail and Ecommerce

Over the past two decades, the world of business, regardless of sector or intent, has shifted massively in its operational capabilities. Previously restricted by the fact that geographical boundaries sat between themselves and growth, companies would have limited abilities to expand and reach new consumer groups across the world. However, this has all changed in the last 21 years.

According to data published by Internet Live Stats, the world has changed massively since 1995. Back then, only one per cent of the globe had regular access to, and used the internet. But by 2016, this had risen considerably, and at present as many as 40 per cent of people the world over have access to the internet.

Whether operating in goods, services or travel and tourism, this increasingly connected world has opened up so many doors to companies across the world, allowing them to reach new consumers and get a piece of the global business pie, and the billions of dollars it’s worth. Companies have been able to do this through effective translation that spawns localisation, allowing them to connect with consumers and make money in markets they previously had no traction in.

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However, in the modern world, this is becoming even more of a challenge, as technology advances and companies need to make decisions on a more detailed basis than simply deciding whether or not to move online. The multi-device era has been growing in prominence for some time, and consumers all have access to various connected technology; be it mobile phones, tablets, laptops and TVs. Internet browsing is no longer simply something people do at their desk, and to achieve success, companies need to be aware of this.

The rise of the mobile device

When it comes to the modern connected device, and the use of mobile devices for browsing, nothing comes close to the rise of the smartphone. Even as recent as ten years ago, few people would have guessed that smartphones would have the capabilities the likes of Apple and Samsung have installed in them in the modern age. But now, according to data from The Hub, there are more than two billion smartphones the world over, with consumers increasingly using these rather than computers to browse and buy.

It’s vital for any company when it comes to translating and localising that this is something that has been considered. If you are translating content that originated in a country where there is very little in the way of smartphone penetration for example, it’s important that you consider whether you need to optimise your website for mobile, as well as translating, when heading into a new target language.

Smartphone penetration tends to be more common in the western world, where each of the United States, the UK and Germany have penetration levels above 50 per cent, the only nations in the world to reach these heights. But in countries in the Far East, such as China and Japan, penetration is now topping 40 per cent, which gives companies food for thought if they are moving operations to that part of the world.

Of course, in an increasingly mobile world, it’s also important to consider where the most people will be purchasing through mobile channels as well as just browsing. If your target audience is used to buying through apps and optimised mobile sites, then presenting them with a desktop site is a surefire way to turn them away. Penetration isn’t everything in this regard. For example, PwC reports that in the US, where smartphone penetration nearly reaches 60 per cent, only 22 per cent of people use mobiles to shop. Meanwhile, in China, where there is around 40 per cent penetration, as many as 65 per cent of people see their mobile as the main shopping tool.

It’s an important consideration for any firm to make when translating their website, and being aware of the world of mobile devices and their impact on consumer spend is a vital way to make sure you pave your way for success.

Optimising for mobile

Language is king when it comes to operating in other languages and talking to potential consumers; we know this much. Accurate descriptions, well-translated content and targeted marketing through market research is key to making sure that consumers have all the tools to allow them to convert.

However, translation, while important, is not the only consideration that needs to made in the mobile world. It’s also vital that companies make a number of considerations for not only if, but how, they are going to optimise their sites for mobiles. Should you use apps or mobile sites, for example? Or are there ways you need to change content to fit in with the needs of mobile users.

For the latter, the answer, quite simply, is yes. Mobile users are much more likely to be using their device when they are engaging with something else at the same time, be this TV, a conversation or an event they are attending, and as such have a lower attention span than a user on a desktop. For this reason, you need to be concise, to the point and succinct. Content still needs to be well translated, but it also needs to consider the user. Make it shorter form and more concise, and you’re going to engage better in many cases with users.

It can also be a good idea to link to important events in the culture of your target market as well in the modern world. For example, if people are always buying and using their phones during popular TV shows, are you making the most of these? Promote them and products that link to them to captivate the audience. This can take a bit of learning, but such cultural awareness is vital in a world where multi-screening is at an all-time high.

The internet age has, without a doubt, given companies access to more consumers and opportunities than ever before in the last 20 years, but the rise of the mobile age has sought only to make this a more complicated path. However, companies that make the right preparations and the right decisions can continue to find their path to success.

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