Clearing up the confusion: What is localisation?

    By Amy Montague, Tuesday 11 June 2019

    Globalising your site is a tough task for any company. With different countries demanding varying functionalities and payment methods, understanding how to start localising your website can be a minefield. To help you out, we have constructed a simple 5 step guide on how to correctly localise your website.

    Localisation infographic


    To start, you need to know which countries and languages you should be focusing on to maximise revenue. Usually, I would recommend looking through your Google Analytics for global audiences but, for this example, we are going to assume you have no global data. Luckily for you, the data has already been collected in the form of the G7 or the Group of Seven. This group includes the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Together the G7 is accountable for 46% of the worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) and only 5 languages are spoken within it: English, German, Italian, Japanese and French. This is a great starting point for you to begin understanding which audiences need to be targeted and catered for. From here you can begin working out the how and the what. Even consider bringing in external resources to help you on your localisation journey.


    Not many web testing companies will recommend automatic localisation testing due to its many downfalls. However, automatically translated texts do provide a useful visualisation of textual spacing. French and German take up to 30% more space than English and Japanese, of course, has different characters. These factors need to be accounted for when optimising your website across devices, including tablets and mobiles, as the layout of your website can become corrupted as text takes up more area.
    But make sure that your automatically translated text is tested by native speakers - mistranslations and semantic gaffes can lead to bad press. KFC encountered this problem as their trademark phrase "finger-lickin’ good" was mistranslated into ‘We’ll eat your fingers off’ in Chinese. Luckily the mistranslation didn’t cause a riot and KFC is still going strong in China today.

    Localised Pictures

    Imagine you're invited to a party, you enter the room and quickly scan for recognisable faces. Hopefully, you find one or two people you can talk to but if not, you're drinking on your own. This is very similar to how your global audiences view your site. Once on your main page, users search for recognisable faces or trends which are popular in their country. In turn, this increases your conversion rates and your users become more loyal as they feel acknowledged and catered for.

    Read more: How Nike increased their conversion rates with visual localisation

    Similarly, for devoutly religious countries, ensuring that you aren’t using offensive or controversial imagery should be a priority. For example, in some Middle Eastern countries, a pig has negative connotations and therefore should be avoided on your website.


    The last hurdle your users must get through is payment, and for companies, this is where revenue lies. As online security dominates the news with stories of fraud and hacking, ensuring your payment methods appear secure and are localised will reduce your cart abandonment and bounce rates on your payment pages.

    The G7 all have different payment preferences and failing to match their expectations will result in reduced revenue, as users don’t recognise, nor trust, the payment options available.

    G7 Payment methods

    UK – Paypal, direct debit & Klarna
    US & Canada – Paypal, ewallet & credit/debit card
    France – Paybox, Stripe & Paypal
    Germany – Klarna, Payone & Paypal
    Japan – WorldPay, Stripe & BlueSnap
    Italy – CartaSi, Stripe & PayPlug

    Double-checking that all of your payment options come with visual icons and are in the right currency may feel like small jobs, but the effect of neglecting these issues can be catastrophic.

    Localisation testing

    So, you’re at the end of our 5-step guide. You have scoped out your audience, translated the copy and localised your payment options. Now, what’s left?

    Simple. Get real users from your target audience to test your website. There is no better way to test a website than with the audience it’s intended for. From location to spoken language and age, a good external localisation testing company can cover all your bases and conduct localisation testing without you lifting a finger. Knowing the good from the bad and the ugly is another battle, and you will have to do your research to find a company which isn’t overcharging you, but also has a proven track record.

    Luckily for you, Digivante are localisation experts. Recently, we conducted a 3-day test for a UK based fashion retailer which focused its effort on covering localisation testing for over 145 different countries. Within the first 24 hours of testing, our targeted community explored the retailer’s core markets: the UK, China, Australia, Canada, Germany and France, including extensive payment testing. The remaining 48 hours were used to conduct a complete localisation test using testers from 140 different countries, all managed at our HQ in Cheltenham.

    Localisation testing shouldn’t take an age to complete and with our global testing experts, you receive constructive and authenticated results, which your internal teams can use in conjunction with our video recording of each issue for clarity. 

    Amy Montague

    Amy Montague

    As one of the Marketing Executives for Digivante, Amy provides and reviews most of the copy and visual content for Digivante. Amy has a natural flair for the creative and introduces aspect into her marketing role.

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