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Properly Localizing Websites

Today, we’ll be taking a look at localizing websites, particularly Japanese websites. You’ll need to modify your brand and products to account for the unique aspects of the Japanese market and culture if you want to successfully reach and engage the local consumer base. While many business owners know this, very few take the time to actually do it.

It may seem like an impossible task to completely revamp your brand. But you can’t just leave your website in English, can you? The truth is that most brands’ websites benefit from a level of localization in the middle when it comes to breaking into the Japanese market. The majority of Japanese do not speak English. If they do, they are not fluent in it. In fact, many haven’t even taken an English lesson outside of school requirements. Because of this, your website must be built with the Japanese language and culture in mind for the biggest impact.

Let’s look at some of the aspects you should consider should you want to design a website for the Japanese market.

Font Alignment: Horizontal or Vertical?

Today, many Japanese people regularly use both horizontal and vertical writing formats. Traditional content, historical books, novels, and other such writings are more likely to be written in a vertical orientation. In contrast, horizontal writing is more common in modern business documents, scientific writings, and more. It is common for both orientations to coexist when space is at a premium, such as in a newspaper, website, or magazine.

The layout of your content will change depending on which of the two Japanese writing orientations you use. 

Setting Up Proper Customer Service

We’ve all heard tales of Japan’s famously high standards of hospitality. Oftentimes, businesses don’t realize that this also applies to web development. In fact, most businesses don’t think they need to make any adjustments to their existing online customer service model. The problem with this line of thinking is that, as we all know, Japanese customer service is vastly different from that in the West.

There is a Japanese proverb, “customers are gods,” which expresses a deeply held belief in Japan. Japanese customers are accustomed to high levels of service and are more likely to respond positively to a website that features a dedicated customer service page.

Therefore, it is important that your website has a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions section. This is because Japanese customers are less likely to ask for assistance and more likely to look for answers online before getting in touch.

To put it simply, a frequently asked questions section will allow them to answer their own questions. But, again, this must be in Japanese and not another language. You do not want to rely on online translation, as this can not only be a terrible translation but also can offend your Japanese clients. Furthermore, it shows them how important they are to your business. 

Add Certain Pages and Adjust the Look Of Your Site

If you don’t have one, add a page labeled “Contact Us,” too. If a customer has a question that isn’t addressed in the FAQs, they can send you a message through the “Contact Us” page.

Another thing that will need to be considered is the look of your website. For example, Japanese people are used to reading vertically, so you can take advantage of this in layouts.

When you are considering capturing an audience from Japan, it is important that you take the time to understand their culture and translate your website into their language to provide the customer with a better overall experience. 

Contact Carmical Translations

Should you need assistance with either the translation or my expertise in understanding Japanese culture, I would certainly be happy to assist.