Website Translation, Website Localization and Website Internationalization

June 22, 2010

Many customers new to translation are confused by the terms "translation", "localization" and "internationalization". Although each term describes a distinct process for website projects, translation and localization are often used almost interchangeably. This blog clears up the mystery around these basic concepts.


Website translation is also known as "Website Globalization". In order to "translate" a website into other languages you may need both Internationalization (I18N) and Localization (L10N) services.

What is Website Globalization?


Website Translation and Globalization

Internationalization (I18N) involves enabling the backend of a website to handle different languages, character sets, currencies, submit form data, site search capabilities, etc., and involves understanding what database and Content Management Systems you are using to author, store and publish your website's content. Many recent versions of databases (DB) and Content Management Systems (CMS) already support website Internationalization or are enabled for other languages.


Localization (L10N) involves translating and localizing the front end of your website into different languages ensuring all content (text and graphics) is translated in an accurate and culturally correct manner. Website localization involves website translation that is appropriate to the specific locale of your target audience, for instance the Brazilian Portuguese language in contrast to the continental Portuguese language.


Whether you are trying to launch a multilingual website in order to expand the markets for your products and services, or you are trying to increase your company's global operational efficiencies by developing multilingual extranets and intranets, Website Globalization is a requirement to make either a reality. In order to enable your web presence to communicate, conduct and complete international e-commerce, you need to translate (globalize) your website.


Each client's needs are somewhat unique and there are a variety of factors that can influence resources and costs involved in a complex website globalization project.

GPI's Website Internationalization Methodology


GPI's Internationalization (I18N) Methodology may include the following 4 steps:


  1. Discovery
  2. Assessment
  3. Implementation
  4. Testing


Each GPI client is assigned a Globalization Services Team (GST) based on the information collected through the Discovery process. The information collected in this first step is critical to ensure each GPI team member selected has the required expertise to not only complete the I18N work, but also to transfer the required knowledge and skills to your in-house development teams. All clients are given the opportunity to review their GST members' credentials and interview them.


To get started, provide GPI with a copy of your Internationalization Kit, which should consist of:


  1. Your website(s) URL
  2. Any passwords or login instructions
  3. Summary of website architecture
  4. Summary of any technologies and/or development tools used to develop your website
  5. Contact information for your development team who will participate in the globalization process
  6. Contact information for your marketing team who will participate in the globalization process
  7. Any source code for your website or web-driven application

GPI's Website Localization Methodology

GPI's website localization process may include the following steps:


  1. Review, Analysis and Preparation of Client's Source Files
  2. Project Kick-Off Confirming Scope, Schedule and Teams
  3. Web Authoring and Publishing Workflow Review
  4. Subject Matter Training and Research
  5. Glossary and Style Guide Development
  6. Cultural Correctness Assessment
  7. Global Search Engine Optimiziation and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  8. Translation, Editing and Proofreading of All Content
  9. Web Graphics Localization
  10. Multilingual Desktop Publishing for downloadable Language Version Documentation
  11. Localization of Multimedia (e.g. Audio/Video Translation)
  12. Draft Delivery to Client
  13. Basic Online QA & Testing
  14. Final Edits, Translation Memory Updates, and Archiving of Files


To get started, provide GPI with a copy of your Localization Kit, which should consist of:

  1. Your website(s) URL
  2. Any passwords or login instructions
  3. Summary of website architecture
  4. Summary of any technologies and/or development tools used to develop your website
  5. Information re: Content Management System (CMS) used to author, store and publish content
  6. All files that make up your website in their original folder/file structure if applicable
  7. All original graphics used in your website (artwork, background, navigation buttons)
  8. All application source files (Word, FrameMaker, Quark, etc.) for any documentation available via your website
  9. All application source files (Flash, etc.) for any multimedia available via your website
  10. A list (if available) of all files that need to be translated

Additional Resources on Website Translation and Localization


Globalization Partners International, the translation services agency, has created a more extensive overview of website globalization for several key locales in collection of downloadable globalization white papers known as our Website Globalization and E-Business Series. To further understand the process of properly developing websites from scratch with globalization in mind, check our blogs and resources:



To discuss your next website translation project, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail at, or by phone at (866) 272-5874, or by requesting a free translation quote on your next website translation project.

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Federico has over 12 years' experience as a globalization engineer managing a wide range of software and website globalization projects (internationalization I18n + localization L10n). His expertise spans software and website internationalization and localization processes, standards and tools as well as locale specific SEO. Federico has completed hundreds of successful globalization engagements serving as lead I18n architect involving different programming languages. He is a certified developer in several content management systems and helps clients create world-ready applications, utilizing development practices that are faster, more economical, and more localization-friendly.