I should first explain what I mean by ‘natively constructed localisation’. This term relates to localisation features and adaptations designed by in-house teams in the website’s native country. For example, a UK website localised for French customers by UK teams. Already, you might see the problem I’m going to address. How can UK teams correctly localise for a French audience if they are not French themselves or even live in France?
For companies with less UX/localisation manpower, the solution usually falls onto automated localisation. But automated localisation barely scratches the surface as it robotically sweeps over huge issues.
Problems with; colloquialisation, device + browser combinations; relevant products, payment options and audience preferences all come into account when localising for a non-native audience. The truth is, if you want to build up your global audience then you need global UX designers and testers.
I’ve used this example before, but Nike does localisation so well I have to do it again. According to Forbes ‘The World’s Most Valuable Brands’ list, Nike is the 14th most valued brand with a net worth of just under £30 billion, while Adidas earned 61st place with a net value of under £8 billion. Given that both brands sell similar products and have almost identical target audiences, why is there a £22 billion difference between the two?
One reason is localisation. Where Nike succeeds, Adidas fails. A quick glance on their websites and we can see how Nike addresses their global audience, while Adidas does not.
In these examples, Nike clearly addresses their UK and French audiences with images of country-specific celebrities, which are in-line with the ongoing FIFA Women's World Cup.
On the other hand, the only difference between the UK and French Adidas sites is the language. It’s more than likely that further into the website there are more localised features, but first impressions count and global audiences need to feel acknowledged upon first glance. Using familiar faces or relating your products to culturally relevant events will increase your revenue and global customer loyalty, as your users feel 'understood' and catered for.
Delving deeper into localisation and you begin to come across problems with colloquialisation, popular device combinations and secure payment options, which will all put doubt into the minds of your international users if they aren't up to their preconceived expectations. Without consistent research of trends and preferences, performing a full-scale localisation re-design every few weeks or every month is going to cost you a lot of money and waste your internal team's time.
Hiring an external testing team to analyse your website for localisation issues, which your internal teams can fix easily is the answer. Many of you might be thinking 'We already have an external testing team/agency, I don't want to pay for more'. But the truth is, do you really know what your external team is doing? Have you actually seen the results of these tests or are they just skimming over issues, without drilling into what will increase your conversions through localisation? If so, it might be time to fire your current agency and search out a better, more reliable services.