Many organizations go into website localization initiatives unaware of the complexities and best practices involved. When this happens, frustration is the usual outcome. Having seen a number of localization efforts struggle, I believe that the root causes fall into the following three categories. The good news is that all of these problems can be avoided with experience and planning.
1. The website was not designed for localization
Some websites are easier to localize than others. In the worst case, it is better to start over with a new website rather than try to remediate and localize an existing site. The best time to prepare a site for localization is before it is built. You need to select a suitable CMS and follow best practices during implementation and content development
. If you didn't build the website with localization in mind, you (or your integrator) probably didn't follow these guidelines, which are usually the first corners to be cut when budgets and timelines get thin. The worst part is that you won't know how prepared you are for localization until you try it.
Don't let the integrator leave until you have successfully, published your second language. If your integrator is already gone, a quick assessment can reveal warning signs so you can get a head start on remediation.
2. No global business strategy
Multi-lingual publishing is (or should be) part of a larger strategy to extend your market into other languages and cultures. If you succeed in getting noticed by different language speakers but fail to help them get value from your products and services, you are no better off. You need to make sure your products, sales, and customer service are sufficiently prepared to serve these new customers. Otherwise your localized website becomes an expensive burden that is tempting to neglect rather than an investment that drives growth.
3. Lack of commitment
A common failing is to treat a website as a technology asset that can be neglected after launch. Your website is not a project
. If you want your site to engage with your audience, you need to stay engaged. Multilingual publishing raises the stakes by adding another dimension and cost multiplier to effective website management. If you can't justify the cost of maintaining localized sites, they will rapidly degrade into an embarrassment. The web is littered with rotting websites
. The worst examples are localized websites that have fallen into disrepair after initial translation.