5 Website Localization Challenges to Watch Out For

The potential for global reach in the vast digital landscape is growing so fast today and customer engagement has never been greater. Website localization is a process of adapting your website’s content to local languages and cultural preferences and it’s the key to unlocking these opportunities. But there are also challenges that can make or break the success of your localized website.

Did you know that 90% of online shoppers choose to use their native language if it’s available? We’re talking millions and millions of potential customers that you’re simply letting go if your localization game is not up there with the brands that are nailing it.

In this article, we explore the 5 website localization challenges that are always bound to happen if you don’t know how to avoid them. Learn about the best practices to navigate the pitfalls of website localization and discover how to create really impactful digital experiences.

Why you shouldn’t ignore localization challenges

Let's just say that ignoring the challenges of website localization can have significant consequences for your business.

Firstly, it can result in poor user experience and reduced engagement. Neglecting factors like cultural context, design considerations and language adaptation can lead to a website that feels disconnected to the target audience. Users may struggle to navigate through the content or even feel offended by culturally inappropriate elements. 

Secondly, overlooking localization challenges can harm your brand's reputation and image. Inaccurate translations or technical issues can damage the credibility and trust of your target audience. In today's digital world, a business that fails to address localization challenges risks being seen as unprofessional, disengaged and even disrespectful, making it super hard to regain trust and recover from the setbacks. 

But on the other hand, addressing localization challenges and following best practices can bring significant benefits to your business looking to expand into different markets. By prioritizing accurate translation and embracing cultural context, you can create a website that feels friendly to a local audience. This lets you connect and build trust. Moreover, by investing in proper technical implementation and international SEO practices, you can optimize visibility, bring in more organic traffic and outperform your competitors.

Website localization challenges

1. Using the wrong translation method

Translation is the starting point of any localization process, so it’s even more important to pick a solution that has it all: the right balance between speed, accuracy, ease of use and of course cost. 

Robot and human, referencing to the human vs. machine translation

For website translation, you have two options:

Human translation

Professional human translation stands as the gold standard for achieving high quality localized content. You're basically paying for their linguistic expertise, cultural understanding and contextual knowledge, which is all great until it comes to implementing all that on your website. They won't be able to help you with the technicalities. While human translation still offers unmatched quality, it can also be time consuming and extremely expensive, especially if you're dealing with a lot of pages and translations into different languages.

That's why a lot of businesses are searching for automated translation tools that are leveraging the power of machine translation. They rely on custom algorithms and AI to generate translations quickly and at a much lower cost.

Machine translation

Machine translation is the process of using artificial intelligence to automatically translate text from one language to another without human involvement. It has its limitations and challenges when it comes to translation quality in some cases, but it's improving in accuracy year after year. 

Auto translations offer a speedy and cost-effective translation option, and it's a real game-changer for a lot of businesses that are able to conquer different markets faster now. Even if you're not completely happy with the translation quality, it still lets you kickstart and make changes manually as you go - at a price you would never get professional human translation for. 

That's why Linguana offers you a hybrid approach. You get access to automatic machine translations and manual human editing, striking just the right balance to meet quality requirements and to personalize your translation workflow. You can get started translating for free at any time. If you decide to leverage the power of auto translations, you only pay for what you use (AI credits).

2. Ignoring UX and design considerations

When localizing your website, you must recognize the role of your UX and your site design. Some of the tips to navigate those challenges are:

  • Make sure your site is compatible with plugins that can enhance your site's functionality.
  • Consider support for RTL (right-to-left) formatting (like Arabic language).
  • Structure the site so the users are able to navigate quickly and easily (navigation menus, call to action buttons, docs).
  • Use appropriate design elements like color schemes and images that align with the local audience (Spotify for example creates personalized playlists and images based on your location).
  • Reserve enough space in your design, because words in different languages not only differ in sound and syntax, but also how much space they occupy in a sentence.

Neglecting UX and design adaptation can also disconnect your website from the local audience, so you must prioritize them for a successful localization.

3. Not considering cultural context

Outdoor kabuki play with children, representing cultural context

Considering cultural context is crucial when localizing your website, because it ensures that the content and design elements align with the cultural preferences of the local audiences. Cultural differences can actually significantly impact user perception and engagement, and if you fail to address them correctly it can result in a disconnected localized website.

For example, let's compare the cultural context of Japan and Brazil. In Japan, the white color is associated with purity and mourning, but in Brazil it symbolizes peace and celebration. If your website uses predominantly white colors to convey a sense of calmness, it may inadvertently evoke negative emotions among the Japanese audience. By understanding the cultural context, part of your localization should always be using appropriate language, colors and design elements like images.

4. Technical implementation

Technical implementation is one of the most important parts of your localization strategy, because it affects everything from seamless user experience to search engine rankings. It's the one thing you definitely shouldn't get wrong, as different translation solutions use different ways to handle your content, some of which are not considered best practices for multi-language sites.

The localized versions of your site should always live under the same URL as your original, thus avoiding duplicated pages which web search engines heavily penalize. 

Here's an example of how Linguana handles that with the subdirectory structure:

  • Original URL: www.yourwebsite.com
  • Spanish URL: www.yourwebsite.com/es
  • German URL: www.yourwebsite.com/de

This approach offers several advantages. Firstly, it helps you maintain a consistent brand identity and website structure across all language variations, making it easier for users to navigate between different languages. Secondly, it simplifies the management of localized content. Additionally, Linguana also handles proper implementation of hreflang tags to help search engines understand which language version to present to users, improving the website's visibility and performance.

5. Ongoing maintenance and updates

Ongoing maintenance and updates are critical aspects of website localization that require careful attention. What you need to know is that localized websites are not static entities - the work is not done once you translate it. They require constant coordinating updates, bug fixes and content changes across different language versions. 

Linguana streamlines the workflow by providing you with a user-friendly interface to push changes and manage your localized content, while also handling a high-quality performance on the back-end.


To conclude, website localization presents both immense opportunities and formidable challenges for businesses expanding into global markets. 

In this article, we explored the issues you will most likely come across when localizing your website, and how to handle them. While there are several approaches and best practices, the ultimate decision which one to opt for lies in your hands.