Localisation (also referred to as "l10n") is the process of adapting content to a specific location or market. Its aim is to insert a product into the local market, being in tune with the needs of the target audience, giving the impression that the content was originally created in the reader’s native language.
As you can see, localisation is more than just translating a written text; the product and message have to resonate with a specific target culture.
Localisation can be used in different occasions, from marketing materials to product manuals, disclosure documents such as terms and conditions, dubbing agencies and so on.
According to GALA (Globalisation and Localisation Association) the localisation process can include:
Adapting the layout such as modifying the graphic display. Colours don’t have the same meaning all over the world.
Converting currencies, units of measure…
Writing dates, addresses, phone numbers, etc., in the local format (think about how dates are written in the UK vs in the US).
Amending content which can combine adapting, adding or removing text, being creative when translating idioms or wordplay.
Changing domain names.
Addressing local regulations and legal requirements.
Why is localisation so important?
Making content understandable and accessible for audiences in other countries is essential in order to expand a business. Check this article about globalisation and internationalisation
Translation alone is just not enough, you will need localisation if you want to break into international market.
By simply adapting keywords for different markets and indicating localised versions of websites in the URL will boost your SEO, making your brand more visible to many potential customers around the world.
Getting localisation wrong could be pricey. After all, the internet is full of humorous examples, such as Pepsi’s Chinese translation of ‘We bring you back to life’ which was translated as ‘We bring your ancestors back from the grave’.
While we might laugh, a mistake like this could easily make potential customers refrain from buying your product, so always make sure to invest some money in high quality localisation.