Website Translation & Localization Tips for Web Developers Catering to the Indian Market

The exponential rise in smartphone ownership across India and improving internet penetration makes it too hard to ignore for any global brand that wants to gain more international traffic from India. However, you’ll have to provide accurate translations and a stellar website localization to accommodate for India’s extremely diverse regions.

Website localization is a specialized form of localization under the area of website development, adapting your content that is suitable for your target audience. Give this post a quick read as finding the right localization service should be one of the first things in your localization checklist, especially when trying to cater a market as complex as the Indian market.

You’ll be needing all the professional help you can get as this article will help you understand why the Indian market presents unique challenges for web developers under the scope of website translation and localization. This article will also provide you with options in creating the right website for the Indian audience.

The Astronomical Growth of Indian Web Users

The sheer size and growth potential of the Indian web user audience is one primarily the reason why web developers should consider reaching out to the Indian market As of 2019, there are roughly less than 650 million Internet Users in India, most of whom are generally young.

With a population of nearly 1.4 billion, that’s nearly half of the entire population. And most of the Indian web users use their smartphones. But within less than a decade, expect that number is rise many times-fold. Simply put, there is a lot of untapped market potential in a country, particularly in rural areas where smartphone ownership is on the rise.

The Challenges in Localizing & Translating For the Indian Market

There is a very good reason why entities of all types and sizes still face trouble in catering to the Indian market. This is also true for the multinational corporations as well and up to this day, they’re still experimenting with new localization strategies.

The Indian market is one of the most challenging areas for international brands to make a dent one. Not only is it one of the most linguistically and socially diverse countries in the world, but they also exhibit unique content consumption and consumer spending habits compared to other cultures.

As stated, India has a population of nearly 1.4 billion and is the second most populous country on Earth, only before China. With a history spanning more than 4 millenia, naturally the regional populations of India have developed their own unique linguistic, cultural, social, and religious traditions that are truly separate from one another.

Translation Challenges and Why Translating to Hindi Is Not Enough

How linguistically diverse in India? Drumroll please. There are more than a 22 official languages in India, including English, plus thousands of dialects. This makes it a nightmare for anyone from any industry to translate for the Indian audience. You might ask “Hindi is the national language of India so why not get a English to Hindi translator?”.

Indeed, the Hindi language is the most spoken language in India with more than 500 million speakers. It is also the 4th most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, English, and Spanish. As the national language of India, Hindi is the official working language of the Indian government and the Indian business arena.

However, when localizing to the entire Indian country, Hindi will be one of your options. Indeed, since it is the official language, everyone is expected to speak Hindi. However, you should know that the adoption and enforcement of Hindi isn’t so cut-and-dried as one might assume.

Most of the Hindi speakers are concentrated in India’s northern and central region. There are actually strong regionalist sentiments within some people that strongly oppose the adoption and usage of Hindi.

They prefer to use their regional language instead and would avoid using Hindi entirely. Taking into account of the heated political and social climate surrounding the enforcement of the Hindi language is something that’s hard to ignore.

What about English? Again, the usage of English isn’t as simple as you might think. You can thank the media for the skewed impression of India as fluent English-speaking country. India’s global status as one of the top destinations of the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry does perpetuate the impression that nearly everyone in India can speak fluent English.

You can definitely still use English, although the reality is that there are roughly 100 million speakers. That might seem a sizeable number but there are many Indians that prefer to read content that is available in their own regional language other than English. So that means even if there are Indian English speakers, it’s better to have it translated from English to Hindi and also to other regional languages that you’ll get to know further down.

Localization Challenges and Employing the Proper Localization Mindset

The localization challenges you will encounter will naturally depend on what type of product, content, and/or service you have. So instead of laying out every possible aspect of regional Indian cultures that you have to take into account, it’s better to give you what kind of mindset you can use to approach all of Indian’s regional cultures.

Ultimately, localizing to the entirety of India shouldn’t be the lens of your perspective. Instead, it would be more effective if you were to narrow your scope and localize to different regions of India. That would streamline your creative process and help you gain a much more organized localization strategy.

Here’s one example to help you understand the complexities of Indian’s cultures and how even one characteristic can have compounded effects. Take Hinduism for example. It is the most predominant religion in India. In Hinduism, eating beef is strictly forbidden as cows are revered animals. This presents a challenge to international food brands that have beef options on their menu.

McDonalds couldn’t use their iconic burger recipes that have beef patties. What they did instead was to localize their menus and incorporate chicken as the protein of choice. They further localized their recipes by incorporating local seasonings and spices to resonate well with the Indian palate.

Of course, there are many more to India’s cultures than just Hinduism and beef consumption. The main point to consider is that you should be flexible, even when it means compromising with your brand’s original image. Let that mindset dictate all of your localization strategies including your content localization and marketing localization strategies.

What Are Your Options in Optimizing Your Website for the Indian Audience?

Simply finding a professional Hindi translator that can translate English to Hindi and translate Hindi to English won’t exactly cut it. Coming up with a one-size-fits-all localization strategy for all of India isn’t the right perspective to have either as mentioned before. Here are your options in how to tackle such a complex market.

Offer Multiple Regional Language Options

On your website, present various language options for the Indian user. Your website should not only have the Hindi language option but other regional languages as well. These regional languages with sizeable numbers of speakers include Bengali, Tamil, Urdu, Telugu, & Marathi.

Your website will be more accessible to other regional language speakers. Although they do speak Hindi, some prefer content that is available in their regional language. So instead of settling with just a Hindi translator, you should also be on the lookout for Bengali translators, Tamil translators, Urdu translators, and etc.

But if you don’t have the budget to offer multiple regional language options at once, then you can start with the Hindi language and work your way to other regional languages one step at a time. 

Deploy Regional Multisites

Multisites is a WordPress feature that allows you to create & run multiple sites under a WordPress installation. Instead of having a one-size-fits-all website, multisites allow you to further tailor your content and aesthetics to your target audience. Another significant advantage of multisites is convenience.

Since they’re all integrated under the same WordPress installation, it provides you with a central network to manage your different sites. This means you don’t need to waste time switching to different accounts and complicating your website management routine. That can make all the difference in terms of convenience for the website owner and development team.

Each multisite will be translated and optimized in their prescribed regional language such as the Bengali language, Tamil language, and etc. This is an almost guaranteed way of driving the whole of India’s traffic to your website. Of course, it isn’t that straightforward as even localizing and translating just one website is resource-intensive.

You have to provide thoroughly curated and optimized content for each regional multisite to maximize their effectiveness. But if done properly, it’ll give your website a significant foothold and greater brand reception among the Indian web users.

Incorporating Unicode Support

Since there are multiple languages in India, you are correct to expect that there are also multiple writing scripts. The most predominant writing script is Devanagari used in Hindi, Nepali, and Marathi. 

Related Post: The Story of India’s Many Scripts

Other writing scripts include Gurumukhi, Gujarati, Odia, Telugu, and Tamil just to name a few.

By incorporating Unicode support in your websites, your website can accommodate and display most of the available writing scripts—the Indic writing scripts included.

Hiring a Professional Translation Agency: Final Takeaway

To tackle a challenge like that means you need all the help you can get as mentioned way back in the beginning. You need to get in touch with a professional translation agency that provides both translation and localization services. Their specialized services even include website translation, content localization and translation, marketing localization and translation, and etc.

Ensure that they have experience in dealing with the Indian market and they actually coordinate with native speakers that can speak Indian’s regional languages and not just Hindi. They will ultimately guide you throughout the process from market research to actual website deployment.

If you’re overwhelmed by the mountainous pile of challenges presented to you already, you’re not alone. It’ll give you some assurance that even the big shot multinational corporations are scratching their heads until now. Everyone is still experimenting on finding out the best localization strategies that suits their line of industry and the Indian audience.

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