The shortest day in the north is the longest in the south.The definition of ‘localization’ is a topic with many points of views. Someone sees it parallel to translation, another says it’s close to cultural adaptation, the third one thinks it requires rebuilding almost everything from scratch and so on. And they all have a point. However, we all (or at least most of us) can agree that the best localization practices go behind words.

Localization – whether it is about a document or a product, a game, an application or any other thing – has a goal of reaching a bigger audience. This can happen only if people want to join the audience. No one wants to listen a message which only speaks at him or her. The point is to talk to (or even with) these people.

The key here is to understand; to be able to step into someone else’s shoes. The feeling of being understood by other people is important because it enables feeling like togetherness and trust. In the world of localization, these kinds of emotions are the basics of any success in the new markets. The truth is that – as consumers – we don’t actually need any particular product or brand, but we might want or desire them desperately.

Need is a rational and desire is an emotional reason to act. Both of these are important but emotions tend to have stronger impact on unconscious behaviour. The output of a localization project should make people feel like “wow, these people really understand me”. To speak the same language is a fundamental starting point, but good translation is only one factor affecting these kind of things. Colors, layout, images, characters, alignment, tempo etc. are also important.

We all grow and live surrounded by certain environment and situation which modify our way of thinking. When localizing, the most challenging task is perhaps to step totally out of our own perspective to be able to see things from someone else’s point of view. It really isn’t too easy to remember that the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is the longest day in the south.

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