Make it local

If you want to take a product or service that has been successful in one country and make it work in another, translation often just isn’t enough. You also need to adapt the product to reflect the local culture and expectations.

For example, in the UK, when selling tinned dog food, you would put a picture of a friendly, healthy dog on the tin, to demonstrate the beneficial properties of the brand for the dog’s wellbeing. In some other countries, however, any pictures on the packaging refer exclusively to what the tin contains, so shipping a load of tins of dog food with a picture of Rover on might send out entirely the wrong message.

Localisation is all about knowing where and how misinterpretations can occur – recognising the pitfalls before it’s too late. If you would like to see some other examples of badly localised product names, visit the ITI Scottish Network website, which has its own collection of translation “howlers” involving products could certainly have benefitted from some localisation.

When it comes to websites and computer programs, localisation is far more rigidly defined, since computer systems often already have predefined “locale” settings for many, if not all, regions of the world. Nevertheless, it takes a trained eye to ensure the localised version will work as planned. Iwan’s experience in software localisation on a number of different types of computer system means he is well versed in spotting potential mishaps.

He can also advise you on cultural elements such as a choice of different images to go along with localised web pages. Finally, his technical expertise and experience in computer programming and web design mean that your programmers and designers have access to a technical partner when they are changing your software and online presence into a form that can readily be localised (a process also known as internationalisation).