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Localization Vs Internationalization: Differences and Importance in 2024

Andrew Russo
Andrew Russo
Posted in Zoom Sep 4 · 7 Sep, 2022
Localization Vs Internationalization: Differences and Importance in 2024

You have an amazing brand and offers and you want to expose and market them to a wider audience around the world. That’s a great vision! Now, you’re thinking about the difference between localization vs internationalization. And that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss in this article.

Localization vs Internationalization Definition

Adapting your offers to a new audience or entering a new market, you need internationalization and localization.

These two terms seem the same, but they actually have unique distinctions. Even so, they both help brands target different markets around the world, expanding their reach and potentially boosting their sales. They have the goal of delivering your offers, say an app, to a new audience and in their language. 

What is localization?

To differentiate localization vs internationalization, let’s define localization first. 

At its core, it’s adapting a product, document, app, or offering content that aims to meet the requirements of the target audience or market, often referred to as a locale.  Requirements include cultural and language requirements.

Localization, while it’s often associated with translation, it’s a more complex issue because  it requires customization, like on –

●       Local regulations

●       Legal requirements

●       Currency and measurement conversion

●       Numeric formats

●       Keyboard usage

●       Currency use

●       Date and time formats

●       Sorting and collation

●       Colors, icons, and symbols

●       Graphics and texts, which may be viewed as insensitive or misinterpreted.

Localization vs internationalization: Sometimes localization may include customizing the visual design, logic, and presentation of the brand and even doing business. 

It can also involve rethinking the accepted learning paradigm, which differs from the originating culture, based on a specific market.

Localization is not only adapting a solution, document, or content for a new locale or region through translation. It also involves customizing the cultural elements and associated images, which will eventually influence how users will perceive your brand.

Content may also include mobile applications, websites, software, videos, and documents.

Being locally adapted to the new market, it will resonate with the users easily because it becomes more relatable, allowing users to feel familiar with it.

Thus, localization is more than translation because it will also include a customized user interface layout that will allow different text length support and the use of images and graphics that are culturally relevant to the locale.

What is internationalization?

It’s the product’s design and development, document or application that allows smooth localization for target audiences based on language, culture, and region.

It refers to the best practices and methodologies that should be applied or followed in the product’s design and development.

Once a product has been internationalized, its localization is made easier and more efficient.

From the get-go of the product’s designing and development, internationalization should be taken into consideration. It must be part of every stage, including following specific design and development practices that will efficiently prepare your offer for localization.

Internationalization should begin during the product’s conceptual stage, particularly brands that want to market their products globally.

It entails building a product or an application that allows multiple language support as well as writing rules.

This also requires product developers to consider localization from the start of the project, especially within the application’s architecture for a smoother process in every stage.

While multiple sources will have different term variation, they’ll still be using the same practices. A few internationalization elements are –

●       Multiple language support

●       Cultural, local, and regional preference support

●       UI elements separation from the content’s source code

●       Numerical systems

●       Number formats

●       Multiple format support for written text, like vertically, left to right, or right to left

●       List sorting and presentation

●       Personal names and locations handling

Internationalization is a combination of localization and world-readiness, according to Microsoft.

A developer should ensure the world-readiness of the product, allowing its use with different scripts and globalization, and then its user interface resources separation in a format that can be easily localized.

In the past, apps were not available to support multiple languages; thus, businesses would normally build separate versions in order to make their product available for a specific language.

Translation was also complex because it would need knowledge in both development and language.  It also brings about some potential issues.

For example, as the application/platform/solution was not built to support multiple languages, more often the translated code wouldn’t work.

But with internationalization now considered from the beginning of the design and development, brands are able to create an app, product, or solution, which can easily adapt to new locations and regions.

Internationalization vs localization in software development

In a nutshell, internationalization involves enabling an app to work well in any of the supported locales, while localization is customizing the software’s different elements in order to support a particular locale’s requirements.

For example, if an app is intended to support at least one locale, the widget developer should internationalize an app’s widget for easy localization. 

Now when it comes to localization, it usually comes after the product development.

The app’s natural language text elements must be submitted to a language translation agency. It will then return the text elements that should be in a new translated language. After, this text will be incorporated into the software or solution.

But then, it will only be possible if the app allows for easy packaging of the text elements, which must be replaced with another language’s text, only if it’s internationalized properly.

Localization vs Internationalization: Why do localization and internationalization matter?

An internationalized app/solution/software addresses the different issues, including reducing app development cost and time, improving software quality,  reducing the cost of localization, enabling the re-usage of code, reducing maintenance cost, and improving overall customer satisfaction.

On the whole, it will also be fast, cost-effective, and simple to use locale-specific files to localize an app. So with reduced expenses, brands can easily release their app worldwide, while giving users a quality experience – not to mention that the app will be in their local language.

App localization and internationalization can help businesses and developers to compete especially in new markets.

Cultural appropriation and respect

Cultural values, norms, and religions, to name some affect the outlook and habits of the people in the locality. For example, launching a Christmas campaign in a non-Christian country might not become successful because the target market will not be able to relate to it.

Going global easily

With localization, it’s easier to go global because brands will be able to compete in new markets, regardless of the region and locale, because it helps overcome barriers.

A few of these barriers may include the political environment, the technological environment, and the social and culture environment.

You will be able to overcome these barriers easily with localization because your product will match and fit a particular culture, while also allowing your customers to adapt and relate with your product better.

You will have more potential to go global and succeed in new markets with localization, as local customers are more likely to promote your product due to your positive brand image.

So when it comes to engagement as well, localization can help ensure better engagement versus competitors who have not started localizing their product.

Increased sales

As new customers can relate to your product better with localization, you’ll have more potential of boosting your sales. It is also that customers can easily comprehend information in their language. 

As when you communicate with the native language of your customers, you are creating a bond and you are making them feel important. Consequently, you’re gaining their trust and you’re more likely to make them feel more comfortable to do business with you.

Localization vs internationalization: Reduced risk

Through localization, you’ll understand the political climate, cultural sensitivities, and consumer needs, while also reducing risk.

It can help you mitigate any risks, ensuring smoother business operations in other countries.

For example, there are certain expressions that can carry with them a negative meaning. Localizing your business, you can avoid these risks and losses that can potentially hurt your brand.

Improved brand relevance

With localization, you’ll keep your product and brand relevant to the new market, especially important in today’s changing business landscape where trends are changing fast.

Being a relevant brand, you will represent more than your offer, but you’re also bringing and creating a product that is relevant and important to the lives of your customers.

Thus, as your brand becomes relevant to each market, meets the needs and matches the values of your customers, you’ll achieve a deeper connection with them, especially in markets where there are already local and native companies that have established their names in the locale where you intend to market your offers.

Where internationalization should begin?

According to Apple, an internationalized application should appear as if it’s designed and built using the intended market’s language.  

The internationalization of the product should begin from the design and development stage in order for it to provide the same user experience in every language.

Considering both internationalization and localization of a product will allow for a better localization and process of adaptation should there be future releases.  It will also ensure every new release’s excellent user experience.

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Localization Vs Internationalization: Closing Thoughts

Localization vs internationalization? Both of these focus on delivering quality and satisfying user experience for every locale where you intend to market, launch, and offer your solution, regardless of the region or language.

But for a proper localization, internationalization should be carefully considered from the beginning of product’s design and development.

Localization vs internationalization: Both of these aim at reducing the effort and time spent on the app’s design, development, and deployment. They allow a stronger and faster process of development for the localized solution.  At the same time, they provide a specific and customized experience to the target market, regardless of their region.

Incorporating internationalization from the beginning of the development, you can easily and quickly engage a new audience because you’ll be able to provide them with the same experience.