When we talk about localising a website for China, the first thing that comes to our mind is to translate your content into Chinese. This is a very critical first move and a no-brainer. But if you want your website to succeed in China, a lot more is required. Chinese website localisation goes beyond easy translation and involves thorough preparation and a clear understanding of the target market. You need to conquer cultural differences and be ready to reach a completely different country.
China is said to be the second-largest economy in the world with a strong chance of outpacing the US by 2030 as its market has an immense opportunity for business in all fields. Localising to China will allow you to get hold of an online market with an impressive growth rate.
What is Website Localisation?
The localisation of a website is the method of adapting the current website to a different market or geographical area. While it is crucial to translate the content into the local language, much more is needed to localise the website.
This involves adapting your posts, photos, user experience, adopting multilingual SEO strategies, as well as all the other things necessary to make your website work well in a given geographical area as well as catering to a specific audience. When you localise your website, you must maintain a good reputation of your website as well as that of your Brand.
How is China Different?
In the case of China, the localisation of an existing website requires an awareness of cultural differences and technological idiosyncrasies that are not common to the western market.
For example, web design trends in China are different in many ways from those in the West, requiring a diverse user interface (UI ) and user experience (UX). The Marketing strategy is also quite distinct and will impact the way you show your product and the marketing channels you use.
Furthermore, the Internet in China is regulated by the government and many services, such as Google, are not available in the country. This affects the technological aspects of the website, which will need to be adjusted and optimised for higher ranking.
Without question, Chinese web localisation involves professionals who have a clear understanding of Chinese Consumer Behaviour, local culture, and technological issues relevant to the domestic internet setting.
Measures to Take When Localising for China
In the following, we illustrate some of the most critical measures you should take for successful localisation of Chinese websites.
- Simplified v/s Traditional Chinese
Chinese make a distinction between written and spoken languages. They talk Mandarin, but they write Chinese. The official language of the country is Simplified Chinese, and most companies are localising their content in this language .
Although, in Taiwan and Hong Kong, citizens use Traditional Chinese (or Cantonese). Plus, Chinese who live overseas seem to prefer their traditional language. Based on the demographic you are addressing, you will have to pick which language to use. Or, you might as well indulge in both major dialects as there aren’t a lot of differences and hence shouldn’t raise costs too much.
- Overcoming Cultural Barriers
Chinese users have different preferences, both in terms of web functionality and design. If empty white spaces and minimal design appeal to the western audience, that does not mean that Chinese users would also like them. Chinese Internet users usually prefer informative websites — links, exclusive deals, promotions, animated interface features, and several windows that open at the same time.
- Catering to the Chinese Audience
Besides translating the content and rethinking web design, you need to transform everything to remain in lines with local trends. This includes currency, time format, data and addresses. Locale specifics, as well, are essential when it comes to enhancing user experience. For example:
- In China, the metric system of measurement is used.
- For registration of forms, the full name format is surname first, followed by your first name.
- The address structure followed is ‘ province — area — street name’.
- The use of zip codes is not a regular practices in China.
- Getting Over Google
Marketers will really need to level up their game as all the Search Engine Optimisation Techniques and Processes will now take place on Baidu, rather than the all-time favourite GOOGLE. The Chinese search engine market is dominated by Baidu, having a market share of 66.15 %, followed by Sogue at 22.06%. Google, on the other hand, accumulates merely 3.16%.
- Love for Social Media in China
If you choose to market in China, you need to build a robust online presence for your company. But localising for China involves forgetting about Facebook and Twitter and to start working with local social media, especially WeChat and Weibo. WeChat alone consists of over one billion users, and you’re going to want to have an account on this social network.
Chinese value human-to-human communication and social media platforms are the best places to build brand awareness and participation. You can use social media to promote exclusive deals, discounts, and promotions, as the Chinese love a Good Bargain!
- Local Partners for Localising
Localisation for China also involves collaborating with local specialists. From copywriters to web designers, a local touch is required to transcend cultural barriers. Chinese partners will help you understand your target audience and customise your content to keep them involved. A local partner will also help you deal with local regulation that is somewhat different from the Western world. For instance, China practices censorship, which means that you need to adjust your content to the local standards.
Based on your target market, you might need to localise your website for various regions of China. People living in vast cities, such as Shanghai or Beijing, have a different Consumer Behaviour from those living mainly in smaller urban or rural areas.
Localising for China is a complicated project that can take quite some time to complete. Yet a localised edition of the website in this country would put anybody closer to 772 million Internet users — the most extensive online population on earth. If you think your company can prosper in China, start with website localisation right away. This can increase brand recognition, enhance conversion rates and raise sales globally, and totally change the ballgame in your favour!
By Prajal Narain