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Before you get into the intricacies of localization, it all seems very easy: you just translate all the words and you are good to go.

However, it is much more complex than that and includes adaptation to a foreign language, reality, set of beliefs, and culture. Otherwise, you’ll make mistakes.

Localization mistakes can cost you money but even more than that, reputation in the other countries. You can offend a whole country with just one wrong translation or visual and never have an opportunity to come back there.

We have collected 10 localization mistakes to help you avoid this awful scenario.

mobile phone social media apps localization

When you localize a software interface, you should take care to avoid the common pitfalls of localization.

#1 Not Taking Into Account Longer Words

In some languages, the words are longer than in others. English, for example, has quite short ones but German has composites with two or more words combined into one.

Why does it matter? When you are creating all kinds of buttons, you can see that the translation of the button simply does not fit. So you have to either make the button wider or change the phrase to fit in.

That is why it is always important to create multilingual websites, software, and games with the possible globalization in mind rather than hard-coding the size of buttons and menus.

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#2 Ignoring Dialects

You probably know how different British and American English is. However, many people forget that the same goes for European and Mexican Spanish, Canadian and European French, European and Brazilian Portuguese, etc. They often use different words and their slang and traditional sayings differ as well because their cultures are different.

Therefore, one should localize for countries rather than for languages.

Arabic is an official language in many Middle Eastern countries, of course, but it is also a predominant language in some African countries as well.

Take into account not only the language used but also the local culture and way of using technology. Translate for the market, not just the language.

#3 Not Using Different Units

Some countries use the imperial system of measurements, others go for the metric system. Some write months before days and others vice versa. There are also different currencies.

All of these changes should be planned in advance as well. You may leave people confused and angry if they see the system to which they do not belong. Sometimes it can lead to bad reviews about not timely delivery or not enough or too much product.

#4 Not Localizing Visuals and Videos

It is not only about what is written on the visuals but about their look as well. It consists of three parts: representation, culture, and technical aspect:

  • When localizing, try to depict people of various cultures so that everyone feels that the product is relevant to them.
  • It may also happen that some symbols, body language, or colors on the visual can be offensive or have other meanings in your target country. Therefore, make sure to culturally explore the country and complete localization testing before putting anything up.
  • It’s also worth noting that different people prefer different file formats. So make sure to utilize a high-quality video converter to upload videos of various formats.
videographer video localization

If you have a localized website that features non-localized videos, you are bound to frustrate your users.

#5 Not Localizing Keywords

Search engines in different countries have different keywords. They do not translate them, they just create a new database based on how people search in that area.

Therefore, you should do the same. For an international SEO campaign, you should research keywords in that area and create landing pages based on them. You may face a very low ranking otherwise.

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#6 Not Being Prepared For Different Writing Styles

In some languages, people read from right to left rather than from left to right. Japanese, for example, even practices vertical writing. It is important to recognize these differences and make sure that your UI can deliver to different writing styles. That is why it’s crucial to use localization software combined with sufficient cultural background.

hanzi and kanji

Some languages are read from left to right and other are read from right to left. Others yet are read from top to bottom. Is your user interface able to accommodate these languages?

#7 Not Accounting Local Important Days

Isn’t it just nice to be congratulated on holidays? People like to celebrate and they’ll appreciate it if companies remembered their local holidays or significant dates. It is just a little step to make customers feel like they are truly cared about.

At the same time, it is essential to exclude some dates in some countries. For example, it is a little tone-deaf to congratulate people on Christmas in countries where people practice other religions.

#8 Not Checking In With The Law

This one will probably have direct consequences when it comes to localization. When you are entering a market in another country, you should understand how their selling, payments, security and privacy, shipping, content, and information transfer policies work.

For example, you can face fines if you don’t account for GDPR while transferring information from a European office to the American headquarters. You can also have trouble with different contract formats, payment transfers, or other regulations that exist in other countries.

It is important to hire a legal expert to handle these kinds of things.

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#9 Not Performing Localization Testing

It is the same with software testing: it seems to be all working in theory but can crumble if you put it in different environments. After your translators finish up, you should also let locals try everything out.

It is the moment where you do not test the grammar but the cultural and context fit. It is done to make sure that your delivery does not offend anyone and that the localized version feels natural.

Fix This Translation Mistake Boost Your Search Engine Rankings

Localization testing involves letting a native speaker of the language in the target market use the website or software in order to test for usability.

#10 Ignoring Marketing Shifts

Localization strategy goes beyond your website or software. Marketing differs as well. It is about special days, different channels of communication, and pain points.

For example, some regions prefer email communication and rarely use social media video marketing. Some countries need more convincing than others when it comes to new technologies, especially regarding security online. In some countries, customers require  increased productivity and a higher position on the corporate ladder as a motivation to make a purchase, while in other countries, personal comfort will be the best reason to buy something.


Localization is a very complex solution. It should be treated as a new branch with its own rules and ideas rather than a translation you can do once and forget. It requires constant effort, so make sure to attain enough resources before you undergo localization.