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9 Ways Bad Localization Can Ruin The UX


A lot of businesses nowadays are turning to localization to improve their user experience and reach foreign audiences. After all, who wouldn't want to go global? But there is another side to this coin, namely bad localization and what it can lead to.

In order to be informed about all of the pitfalls of bad localization, read this article till the end and take note of what you can do in order to avoid these mistakes.

1. Using Unreliable Sources To Find Your Translator

The first mistake businesses make is going to the wrong places to look for their potential translator. Take Fiverr, for example. Not all the translators there possess the necessary knowledge and skills to provide you with an accurate translation. In fact, only the top translators may or may not be experts in the sphere.

The primary reason for business owners to head over to such places instead of opting for a professional writing service is money. They hope to save some bucks by hiring a translator that charges less. But in reality, they will only lose money when they will have to hire more and more translators to correct the past mistakes the customers are complaining about.

2. Not Taking Into Account The Peculiarities

Unfortunately, this is a problem that has its roots way back from the strategy planning stage. When you decide to go global, you must study the markets you want to expand to. And if you don't see the alarming differences between your current market and the ones you want to target, you are set for failure.

When localizing your site, you should take into account everything from units of measurement to the needs of your target audience. Say, you have a product that is connected to temperature. It shows the temperature in Fahrenheit, but the market you want to expand to is used to measuring the temperature in Celsius. You will not only have to change the product information but the product itself in order to appeal to this audience.

3. Using Automatic Or Machine Translation

We all use Google Translate once in a while, but not everybody realizes how faulty it actually is. Even though there are numerous human contributors that are constantly improving this Google service, it is still not the best variant when it comes to machine translation or translation in general.

Unfortunately, a lot of site owners believe that simply installing an auto-translate plugin will solve all of their problems, but that is not true. Automatic translations are way worse than human ones and can even look like gibberish instead of something decent.

4. Providing Translators With Less Context

Just like not taking into account the peculiarities of your new target audience, providing your translators with less context can lead to disasters. Of course, most professionals can figure out what you meant to say by this or that phrase, but a lot of the time it is simply impossible.

For example, you gave your translator several pieces of text from the different places on one of your site's pages. One of these pieces was a simple "in". If you don't provide your translator with context, this is can be interpreted both as a short form of the word "inches" and as a preposition that points to the location of an object.

Your translator is not a mind reader and they can't possibly know what you meant every time there is a tricky word, phrase, or sentence. This is why supplying your translator with enough context is crucial for a good localization.

5. Choosing An Incompetent Translator

As mentioned above, one way the localization can go wrong is if you look for translators in inappropriate places. But even if you choose a good translator, there is still a big chance that they will be incompetent in the sphere your text is in.

Let's say your business specializes in IT support. This means that your site will have a lot of terminology related to information technologies. If you hire a translator who is an expert in the pharmaceutical sphere, they won't be able to translate your site properly.

This is why it is strongly advised that you use such a translation review website as PickWriters where you will be able to choose the best localization service that is most appropriate for your needs.

6. Localizing A Product That Can't Be Localized

Just like units of measurement vary depending on the country or region, your customers' needs vary too. The harsh truth is that you won't be able to sell your product everywhere simply because not everyone needs it.

Before deciding to localize your product for a certain audience, make a thorough research and see if there is any demand for it. Maybe you will need to turn to other markets.

7. Decreasing Site Conversions

One of the biggest blows you may take from bad localization is the decreasing of your site conversions. Believe it or not, but there are reasons how good localization can increase conversions, which means that if you translate your site poorly, you will not see an increase and might even experience a decrease in your site conversions. Keep in mind that nobody canceled such thing as search engine optimization.

8. Not Showing Your Brand's Voice

Your brand's voice matters more than you think. By using the words and phrases you use to get across certain messages, you position yourself as a brand that values customer experience, for example.

But bad localization can completely erase any of the qualities your brand might have gained while using English. You must make sure that the localized content conveys the same ideas and uses the same tone that the original text used. Otherwise, there is no point in trying to go global if you can't even position yourself properly.

9. Assuming Your Audience Only Knows Their Native Language

Nowadays, a lot of people know at least two languages, while the majority of the world understands at least some basic English. In fact, you can check out this list of languages by country to see what the official languages in each country are and make sure that your localization is not done in vain.

Once you localize your content, set English as the default language, but make others easily available for your visitors. This will mean that they will be able to switch only if they want to, and not because you assumed a certain language will be best for them based on their IP address.


All in all, you shouldn't be scared of localizing your site for foreign audiences. In fact, you should be striving to do so! But if you don't do everything correctly, you might end up in a situation when you will lose time, money, and even the trust of your clients. So make sure to follow the advice in this article and enjoy the good localization.

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Thursday, 20 June 2024

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