Understanding translation and localisation is one of the most important factors if you want to target an international audience.

Translation is the process of changing the words of one language into another. Localisation, on the other hand, involves a broader range of activities to translate content – one which still retains the concepts of the source language, but aims to also meet the preferences and tastes of the target consumer in relation to their cultural background.

The process isn’t just restricted to the words that are used, either. The visual content on a website is often equally as important.

This is where image localisation comes in.Why image localisation matters? Consumers from a company’s local market may find certain image content on its website informative, while consumers from a different country with a different social or cultural background might find it confusing or useless.

Even when the language of a website gets translated to the target language, it might not use the right context to appeal to that customer. On the other hand, when translated text is localised in a way which is optimised for the target consumers of that region, it’s much more likely to capture their interest.

In the same way, image localisation is also necessary to provide the right information to the right target consumer. For example, globalisation settings may enable the text on a website to be localised to a specific language when it is viewed by a visitor in a specific country. But if the text on the homepage slider images remains in English it will confuse the visitor. It is therefore important to consider localising images as a part of the overall localisation exercise. Need help with the localisation of your images? See how we can help you.

Cultural and functional factors Image localisation focuses on the visual aspects of the specific region depending on the industry, and can be categorised into cultural and functional content.

Different cultures across the world have varying meanings for the same gestures, signs, or analogies. As such, some ads might be offensive or unacceptable in certain countries, while being completely OK in others.

Functional content specific to a region might include formats of date and time, spelling and linguistic structures, weights, currencies, phone and contact information, and so forth.

When these aspects are not well researched relative to the target region, the results of any project might not be as effective as intended. Don’t let this happen to you The South African Chamber of Mines wanted to fix certain Health & Safety issues experienced by their employees. They had an issue where the rail tracks had to be constantly cleared of debris in order to avoid service interruptions. Since most of their employees could not read, they created signage in three parts where a person was shown carrying an empty trolley, picking up the debris, then moving forward with the trolley filled.

A few days later, the rail tracks were filled with even more debris. The management found out later on that the workers read from right to left, and not left to right as they had assumed.

This goes to show how even in text-free communication it can be advisable to have the location and formatting of non-text elements carefully reviewed by experts to make sure it is correctly aligned. Localising gestures and symbols Appropriate use of localised symbols and signs is another point to be considered. These can include currency symbols, icons, and graphics specific to the local language. A certain sign understood by one country might not indicate the same in another. They can also sometimes be used in offensive contexts – particularly hand signals and gestures. For example, a “thumbs up” hand gesture would mean a positive emotion in the United States, while in Russia, Greece, and many other Middle Eastern countries, it can be offensive. In these cases, internationally accepted signs are preferred, and locally identified ones avoided. Know your target culture to succeed in image localisation Images containing certain objects or animals might be meaningful to the inhabitants of a certain country, while people from another region might see nothing in them. In the same way, colours also reflect different meanings for different countries. While the colour red might indicate good luck and happiness in China, in Japan it means danger or anger.

Another example might be the fact that many Arabic countries have strict norms and cultural laws, especially relating to alcohol, pork, and women. For images defining food and beverages, the use of pork and alcohol should be avoided if you’re targeting such a market, since they would be seen as unacceptable by most. Even images with women without their traditional attire may not be acceptable – here it may become necessary to replace or recreate the images in question with others which might be more culturally acceptable.

Image localisation, therefore, might not at first seem like a huge necessity. But if you’re trying to go global, especially with your business, thorough localisation is highly recommended. Asian Absolute – the best way to translate With more than 18 years of experience providing high quality translation services, Asian Absolute knows the best way to translate and will be able to advise on the most suitable processes for both your translation and localisation projects.

With specialist translators, editors, proofreaders and QA for European, Middle Eastern, and Asian languages, our pool of highly skilled translators is one of our greatest strengths.

Our best translators have years of experience delivering high quality work on a huge number of projects before they qualify to be our proofreaders or reviewers. Only then can we be sure that they’ve got all of the skills discussed above.

It’s the straightforward answer to the question of how to get the best translation.

Make sure that you’re getting the most accurate translation today. Give your local Asian Absolute team a quick call, email us or request a free quote online at any time – we’re open 24 hours a day.