The launch of a business in today’s global economy requires the ability to adapt a company’s strategy to be locale and culture aware. This strategy has to focus on the GILT (Globalization, Internationalization, Localization and Translation) process in order to successfully reach a global audience. A global vision and strategy is therefore essential to succeed in modern markets shaped by the technological progress brought about by the digital revolution, and to be successful in present-day increasingly challenging economical and political frameworks.

UI & UX design strategy

When globalizing a business such as an e-commerce, it is important to first approach the issue of internationalization (i18n) creating a product or service that can potentially be marketed worldwide with the goal to provide a unified user experience, then it is also crucial to proceed with content localization (l10n) making all the necessary adaptations according to the local market and adopting a marketing strategy to raise brand awareness.

Functionality, design and navigation are the key points of each UX strategy. However, user experience cannot only rely on aesthetics, as it is about making sure that systems make sense to people, by appealing to empathy and emotions, so that the user can clearly understand the purpose of the UI and benefit from it to satisfy a certain need. In the context of globalization (g11n), one of the main goals to keep in mind is to provide a unified and coherent global experience by means of a strategy that ensures consistency and compliance with guidelines.

Information processing theory and mental models

Users always approach a new product and its features based on their mental models that are generally formed by education, experience, age, and culture. So, people have expectations and mental models that are based on previous experiences with specific products. Since unexpected surprises popping up as part of the UX or UI can lead to confusion and frustration, the goal of high-quality UX design is to create a process that allows users to accomplish their goals quickly and easily. For this reason, designers should consider users’ expectations to align the design process with users’ existing mental models in order to improve existing products and design new ones – e.g. adopting skeuomorphism, which implies that the UI both looks and functions like its real-world counterpart.

To understand users’ behaviours, habits, and needs, UX designers need to analyse the process of human cognition including the different functions and types of visual attention.

As illustrated by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “some of the most influential theories treat the selectivity of attention as resulting from limitations in the brain’s capacity to process the complex properties of multiple perceptual stimuli. Other theories take the selectivity of attention to be the result of limitations in the thinking subject’s capacity to consciously entertain multiple trains of thought. A third group of theories account for attention’s selectivity in ways that need not make any reference to limitations in capacity”.

Based on the cognitive psychology of attention, which deals with mechanisms of perception forming behaviours, it is possible to identify two ways of visual attention within the context of the human information processing theory: spatial attention (directed to a region) and feature-based attention (directed to a feature). Besides this, there are different types of attention, which are determined by the situation and the intensity of the stimuli: divided (simultaneity of processes), focused (concentration on a target stimulus), sustained (activities requiring attention over a long time) and selective attention (choice of more relevant stimuli).

As a result, the cognitive load needs to be lowered by reducing the options available and consequently the decision time, trying to appeal to the five senses for grabbing attention (e.g.  cocktail-party effect) and to improve GUI design in order to avoid the change blindness effect.

The customer journey through cognitive psychology & neuroscience

Starting with the assumption that human brain is lazy and prone to shortcuts, while cognition is a complex process, it is evident that much of what drives human behaviour is subconscious. According to Kahneman, human thought can be split into reactive (responsible for instinctive cognition) and analytical (applied to more complex scenarios) systems. Most of human decision-making processes belong to the first system of “fast thinking”: even if we don’t perceive it, we tend to make decisions quickly relying upon predefined schemas or mental models. Certain neuroscience techniques (such as eye-tracking cameras, skin sensors and electroencephalograms) have recently been adopted to help UX research to identify what stimulates “fast thinking.”

Based on recent studies of neuroscience, there are some useful tips for designers to create great user experiences:

  • Design should be kept simple so that information is easy retrievable.
  • Priming someone to expect things like elements of the UI, certain interactions, or timing in a process improves the ability to react to new information.
  • Information should be organized for lazy readers: according to the F-pattern commonly used by the brain to scan for information, it is better to organize the text structure so that it is easy scannable, but also using colour theory, weights, and contrast to direct user attention.

Colour is a form of non-verbal communication because choosing a colour means communicating a message that is rooted deep within our subconscious. Colours have a big effect on the user’s experience because they affect users’ mood. Don’t forget: the importance of colour psychology in UI design is pivotal because it can boost conversions and increase profit.

Post-it reminder to run a usability test as part of the UX design process

Usability and accessibility for a successful globalization of your business

To sum up, UX design is the method to meet the users’ needs, while UI design originates from the combination of visual and interaction design. User Interface design ranges from GUIs of computers, mobiles, and tablets to many other devices. Despite the differences between user experience and user interface design, these two aspects are strongly interrelated.

To conclude, when taking a business global, best practice is first of all to focus on usability and accessibility. Especially for small businesses this is a complex and dynamic process requiring a deep understanding of the targeted markets. In particular, there are some key points to bear in mind when dealing with accessibility:

  • Accessibility does not necessarily exclude aesthetics and visual attractiveness, quite the contrary they should be merged into a unique need.
  • Investing in accessibility definitely improves ROI (debunking the myth) as a direct consequence of the following key factor: an enhanced usability, an increased customers’ engagement towards the brand, a wider reach of the target audience, a simplified development and maintenance stages, as well as a compliance with local regulations and guidelines.
  • Understanding the user’s needs implies having empathy in your sights and learning how to address different types of disabilities (ranging from visual to auditory, as well as physical and cognitive up to learning disabilities);
  • Refer to standards to implement a web content, design and development strategy, such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is very important;
  • The User Experience Design (UXD or UED) process can be improved adopting usability tests to create audit reports and identify room for improvements.

Once more, at the heart of UX (just like the globalization, internationalization, localization and translation stages) there is the goal to ensure that users find value in what you are offering them. For this purpose, your priority should be gaining a deep understanding of users’ needs, values, abilities, and limitations. The freedom typical of the current digital world, offers UX designers many opportunities for creativity and innovation. Nevertheless, UI and UX design always has to target accessibility and usability for the end-user as priorities. Indeed, UX best practices strive to encourage a constant enhancement of the user’s interaction with products and services.

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The Localization Industry Primer, second edition was revised by Arle Lommel

Publications Manager LISA

Thinking, Fast and Slow (by Daniel Kahneman)

Businesses today are able to reach a global audience. But when targeting different markets, they should be aware of the importance of content localization.

Most businesses today aspire to reach a global audience. Thanks to the Internet, potential customers can be in Delhi, Lima, or even Sydney. Undoubtedly, this offers incredible opportunities to expand your business but it also poses a variety of challenges.

While differences in language are quickly recognized—people want to buy and use products available in their own native language—, a key fact is often forgotten: If you want to go global, you need to stay local.

A successful global marketing campaign should pay attention to specific aspects regarding the target market. A simple translation, in which the content of a marketing copy in source language A is transferred to target language B, is rarely enough. Cultural references, imagery, and humor play a vital role in marketing campaigns, and can determine its overall success or failure.

Here’s an example: Imagine that a food delivery app creates a successful marketing campaign in the UK, the main idea is to satisfy customers’ curry cravings without needing to leave the couch—one click on the app and they can order a delicious spicy curry. It works well in the UK, where chicken tikka masala is a food staple. This means that the target audience can easily relate to the campaign and find it appealing. But if we transfer the same example to a Brazilian audience, you will find out that instead of attracting customers, you might end up alienating them: Most Brazilians are not familiar with Indian cuisine, meaning much less would have curry cravings. Ordering a fresh ‘out the oven’ pizza would be considerably more likely and relatable for that market.

One thing is certain: To reach a global audience, you need to make sure that your content stays relevant and engaging across cultures. Frequently, that can only be achieved by localizing content. Content localization is about more than translation: it is about adapting or changing content in order to ensure it is relatable, culturally appropriate, and appealing to the target audience.

Marketing translation and transcreation are two interesting ways of approaching content localization. Both require a similar set of expertise: professionals who are extremely knowledgeable and proficient not only about their target language but also about their target culture. Also, having strong writing skills is extremely important. However, it will depend on the type of content as well as your marketing goals in order to determine which approach fits best.

Marketing Translation: It’s all about adapting

Marketing translation could be simply defined as the translation of marketing material. However, it entails many more aspects than a straightforward, word-for-word, translation.

In fact, marketing translation is, in large part, an adaptation. While the meaning should stay the same, its delivery might change according to target market. The key point is to convey the message in an appealing and relatable way: it should read fluidly and be as engaging as the original copy.

To achieve this, it is important to take into account the overall aim (build brand awareness, attract new customers, engage with the target audience, etc.). The type of content (blog post, press release, newsletters, social media post, etc.) also determines the translation process—blog posts should be fun and interesting, sometimes allowing for more creative adaptations. Press releases, on the other hand, bring a clear message that needs to be faithfully communicated.

A good marketing translation should always respect the tone of voice, style, and context of the source text. It is fundamental to stay on brand, that is, to preserve the brand’s identity. The outcome should be close to the source in meaning and style, while making it appealing to a new target market.

Transcreation: It’s all about recreating

Many things that are true for marketing translations are equally true for transcreations: it should be relatable, aware of cultural differences, engaging, and loyal to the style of the brand.

But transcreation goes one step further— by recreating the original. The original version is used both as a reference and as inspiration, but the transcreator (a highly creative and specialized linguist) is free to reimagine and reinvent.

Once again, preserving the brand’s identity and the core message is crucial; however, transcreation gives the possibility of changing the content (e.g., references, humor, idioms, metaphors) in order connect and engage with the local market. That is why transcreation is ideal for slogans, taglines, and other highly creative and localized marketing material. Imagery and colours might also be altered in order to improve acceptance or respect cultural sensitivities.

A successful transcreation should be preceded by a creative brief: the transcreator has to understand the creative concept, the desired style and tone of voice, the target audience, and the end goal of the campaign. Only a well-detailed creative brief can result in a transcreation that works both for the brand and for the target market.

To go global, stay local

As businesses go global, it’s important to remember that the key for success is to stay local. It is true that our globalized world feels smaller every day, but one size does not fit all. When deciding to buy a new product, people need to feel an emotional and cultural connection—they want a product that feels like it was made for them.

Whether you choose a marketing translation or a transcreation, content localization is a vital stage of your marketing strategy. The Internet can bring your business to tens of dozens, even hundreds of countries. However it isn’t only only when you speak the language, but when you show that you understand and respect their culture, that you can really reach out and build a global audience.

About the author

Catia Pietro is a Berlin-based Brazilian Portuguese translator and copywriter specializing in non-fiction literature, marketing, transcreation, and localization.

“Do you know the difference between a well-translated website and a profitable one? Localization.” Nowadays, Localization is considered as a Strategic Marketing asset as any mishap could potentially damage a brand’s name and consequently have a direct negative impact on sales.

From my early years in Marketing and Sales, I learnt fast that any content or product should always be adapted to a specific locale or market to avoid any intercultural-misunderstanding or faux-pas.

This is where localization comes into play as it will enable Companies to convey their message in a more effective and appealing way to a specific target segment: Localization goes one step beyond translation: it’s the key point of entry to successful market penetration within countries sharing the same language but where people don’t necessarily share the same beliefs, customs, cultures or values.

To localize or not to localize?

How to assess a good opportunity for localization? Will the target market be worth the investment?

Well that’s a tricky one. Localization Decision-making is a tough choice since you need to consider the money factor at all times.

We all know the challenges that Multinational Marketing can bring: how can one maintain a balance between market opportunities and financial constraints and operating costs? Whether you are targeting a new market or reconsidering an ongoing investment on a current one, not only do you need to comply with a different set of requirements, legislations and regulations but also with different users’ cultural and purchasing preferences. And let’s not forget about the competition and market structures that will definitely shape your Localization Strategy.

What is the best recipe for a successful international market penetration?

To ensure a successful international market penetration, make it relevant to your target market!

  • Take a close look at your market segment demographics (age, income, ethnicity, gender, …) and identify whether they fit your target market. If there is no fit, abort localization.
  • If there is a potential match, you can either identify a partnership with a local leading company that has experience with your target market or address it on your own.
  • You need to project the cost-benefit and assess if there is a potential opportunity for growth and revenue.

How can your business benefit from a Localization Strategy?

From a Marketing standpoint:

Reaching out to existing and new international markets in their native language and without altering the initial Marketing content, must be at the core of your International Marketing Strategy. By emphasizing the intangible values of your product or service you will also improve the consistency of your Company’s global brand message, brand equity and increases brand awareness.

From a Sales standpoint:

According to a recent Smartling survey, “71% of the top marketing decision-makers who responded agree that sales increase in target markets when content is localized and …74% agree with the statement “Content localization is a revenue driver.”“

Localization strategy boosts sales leads: as the level of satisfaction for a product/service improves, it turns into referrals to other potential customers and consequently boosts sales.

From a consumer/user standpoint:

Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” (Source:

According to statistics from Common Sense Advisory, a research firm specializing in global market issues, “56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price” …” and 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language”.

Whether you are a Global consumer brand whose goal is to build a close and personal connection with your customers or a multinational corporation on a regulated sector such as Pharmaceuticals or Telecoms, trying to comply with the specific regulations and requirements of your target market, you will opt in for a Localization Strategy but for different reasons.

Not only will localizing your website or marketing materials show your customers that you respect and understand them, it will also strengthen their loyalty. Any improvement in their user experience, will potentially increase their satisfaction and engagement on your site.

In a nutshell, “when it comes to consumer markets, one size no longer fits all.”

As I am wrapping up this article, a book title comes back to me, it’s Rick Page’s “Hope Is Not a Strategy: 6 keys to winning the complex sale” (

I highly suggest that you take a look at his breakthrough selling strategies and think about how to implement some of them in your business decision-making.

According to the site (Source:, 94% of multinational companies plan to increase their localization spending in 2018.

Localization is likely to remain a key factor into any International Marketing Strategy for many years to come. This is the most suitable way to address and convey a message to any specific target market not responsive to a Global Marketing Strategy.

Muriel Poirrier


When we think about internationalization, we often only think about translation strategy and other linguistic processes. However, globalization has changed not only our shopping habits but also the marketing processes used by most of the major brands that we deal with on a daily basis. Coca-Cola, H&M, Ikea… these are just some of the famous marketing giants that had to think about their international strategy before going global. What are the key points for carrying out a successful internationalization strategy?

Think Global, Act Local

A company’s marketing strategy may work in one country, but that does not necessarily mean the brand will be successful on all new markets. This false assumption puts a lot of companies in a difficult position. They must  create a global brand voice, but must also sing a unique song to each of their target markets in  each country . Every localization success is linked to efficient multicultural brand management, which will be completely different in every country where the company is active.

World - Internationalization

Adapt and Be Open to Change

Most of the time, companies correct a marketing campaign, message or tagline if the target audience has reacted to it negatively. It often costs a lot of money to rebrand internationally, so why wait until then to take action? All companies, big or small, should  localize their slogans and the names of their products and companies from the beginning.

Ask Locals for Input

The key is to make sure that your approach is appropriate and adapted to the culture. Before making strategic decisions on marketing localization, make sure  to consult a member of the team based in the target country. If this is not possible, contact a marketing expert in the field.

Do a Final Review

All marketing localization projects should include a final test phase to make sure all local content corresponds to the localized material. This last post-editing step should be done by a professional linguist and a marketing expert who actually live in the target country. Final corrections should be made at that point, so that companies can save time and money in  the long-term.

Along with the tremendous growth in the number of smartphone and internet users in the global market, localization is no longer a new approach, but an inevitable step for a successful expansion of a mobile application.

Although a mobile application is also a form of software application, they are not designed to be used on desktop and laptop computers, but specifically used on small, wireless computing devices, such as smart phones and tablets. That makes a difference in the internationalization and localization process and here are a few tips we would like to share with you.

Before localizing a mobile application, think about these steps during the internationalization process:

1. Place the UI text into separate files instead of putting them in the programming code.

2. Set up a multilingual architecture so that your app would be in the right language according to the language setting of your users’ devices.

3. Avoid text on graphics.

4. Consider the space to be taken by the potential target languages (for example, French, Spanish and German texts would take around 30% more space than English texts) so that the texts would be displayed properly in a consistent interface design of different language versions.

5. Revise sourcing codes to make sure the structure fits in an internationalized standard.

6. Design a localization-friendly interface.

After internationalization, a test for the internationalized version before localizing the product would help to spot and to resolve functional defections in the internationalized version, as well as to make sure all the codes and source files are ready. Another tip here, to take the test in the smallest supported device because usually the app works in larger devices if it works well in the smallest device.

During the localization process, do think about the cultural differences. It doesn’t mean that you have to make a new design for each market, but you would need to pay attention to the icons, pictures and colors in the application. Just avoid anything that may have specific cultural indication or if it were a taboo for a specific culture. Sometimes, we may need help from a cultural counsel of the target market.

Last but not least, consider the ASO (Application Store Optimization) strategy. Optimize key words and contents for the target market to enhance visibility of your Application, and make sure that the translation for the App name, description and key words are adapted to your target users. It is also important to study the frequently used app store in your target market. For example, Google Play is not available in China and the top 3 App Stores for Android in China are: Baidu App Store, 360 Mobile Helper and Xiaomi App Store.