What is website localization?

Article

Website localization means adapting your website to succeed in a specific country or region. If you are looking to create a Japanese web design, there are good reasons to seek assistance from a web design agency with experience in the Japan’s web environment.

Native Speaker Translation

Japanese is a complex, nuanced and evolving language. Sales copy expressions on the web tend to be more formalized than in the English speaking web environment. Also, many new expressions are continuously appearing in the language, especially as it is used by younger generations. There are also regional dialects with significant variations from “standard” Japanese. It is essential for your web site credibility to have sales copy and content generated by a native speaker with experience in commercial editing.

Local Search Engine Optimization

Japan has its own unique set of search engine players. At the time of writing, Yahoo Japan is dominant with Google Japan number two and other search portals also receiving significant web traffic. It is essential for your web site`s success to understand how to maximize local search engine optimization. You will need to have an understanding of:

  1. Likely search terms used (in Japanese).
  2. Issues relating to local domain name extensions.
Local Culture Awareness

Japanese culture and social norms are unique and quite different to the West. There is a significant cultural emphasis on “cuteness” in sales promotion. Consequently it is important for your web strategy to be customized to the local environment with respect to:

  1. Choice of appropriate and credible imagery.
  2. Choice of appropriate typographic fonts.
  3. Business and social customs.
  4. Seasonal factors.
  5. Relevant trends, fashions and news events.
Familiarity With Character Issues

The character-encoding specific to western computers will render Japanese web text unreadable. Consequently a Japanese friendly web character encoding set must be used when creating Japanese web pages. There are at least three character encoding types commonly in use. It is important to know when and how to adjust various technologies used in the web site development process to take these local variations into account.

Japanese can be written in two directions. Yokogaki style writes left-to-right, top-to-bottom, as with English. Tategaki style writes first top-to-bottom, and then moves right-to-left. At present, web browser handling of downward text is incomplete. For example, HTML has no support for Tategaki and Japanese users must use HTML tables to simulate it. However, CSS level 3 includes a property “writing-mode” which can render Tategaki when given the value “tb-rl” (i.e. top to bottom, right to left). Tategaki style is not commonly used on the web at the present time.

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