Translation vs Localization? What exactly is the difference?

If you want to open up global markets with your company through a multilingual website, you will surely come across the words “translation” and “localization”.

The terms website translation and website localization are often used side by side and even as synonyms. However, these two terms denote different processes. But what exactly is the difference?

Translation

The translation of a text is the transfer of a given content into another language using the necessary terminology and paying attention to the context.

However, it is often not enough when it comes to a product launch on another market, to simply translate the texts surrounding the product. Often cultural features must be considered. In such case, we speak of localization.

Localization

Localization is about adapting the entire product to the respective market. It is not only about the translation, but also about the overall design and the general working of the brand or the product. Product names may need to be adjusted, language jokes need to be appropriate in the new destination country, and it may be advisable to choose other images.

Overall, cultural differences and preferences of the target audience, such as color design, must be taken into account. Sometimes it’s just a small change that’s necessary. In addition, the necessary changes do not always have a cultural background but, for example, need only be made for functional reasons, such as the format of telephone numbers.

It’s simple really.

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