Website Localization Best Practices for Multilingual and Multi-regional Websites

by Florian Auckenthaler
18th Jul, 2018

Localization is vital to your business' success. A correctly localized website attracts more traffic and increases click-through rates what improves conversion rates and inevitably sales. In this guide, you will find a collection of localization best practices and tips for multilingual and multi-regional websites.

  • Use professional help to translate and/or transcreate key marketing content
  • You can use machine translation only for non-marketing texts, high-volume texts or content requiring rapid turnaround time
  • Use translation memory to reduce translation costs over time and to stay consistent with your translations

IBM | French website |


Global Gateway

  • Use global gateway to let users choose the preferred country

McDonald's | International website | | Global GatewayMcDonald's-global-gateway.png

  • Write country names in English and local language

Example: Germany | Deutschland

H&M | | Global Gateway


Language Selection

  • Use a globe icon to show language options

E.ON-language-selection-trigger.png  - E.ON | | Language Selection Trigger

Ford-language-selection-trigger.png - Ford Motor | | Language Selection Trigger

 Saudi-Telecom-language-selection-trigger.png - Saudi Telecom | | Language Selection Trigger

  • A trigger must be accessible on all pages. The best location to place it is the top right or top left corner
  • Write language names in local language 

Example: Spanish | Espagnol

  • If you use a letter code to indicate languages follow ISO 639-1 

Example: EN for English or DE for German

Nokia | | Language Selection

Country Selection

  • Use a globe icon or a country flag for a country switcher or country selection trigger

TOYOTA-country-selection-trigger.png - Toyota Motor |  | Country Selection Trigger

 Syngenta-country-selection-trigger.png - Syngenta | | Country Selection Trigger

 Marks&Spencer-country-selection-trigger.png - Marks & Spencer | | Country Selection Trigger

   Cigna-country-selection-trigger.png - Cigna | | Country Selection Trigger

   Starbucks-country-selection-trigger.png - Starbucks | | Country Selection Trigger

  • A trigger must be accessible on all pages. The best location to place it is the top right or top left corner
  • Write country names in local language 

Example: Italy | Italia; Austria | Österreich

Starbucks | | Country Selection


  • If you use a letter code to indicate countries follow ISO or Wikipedia

Example: CN for China or US for USA


  • Don't redirect a user automatically. Suggest best available language or country option based on user's browser language/location settings

Example: “You have landed on our US site from a UK location, would you like to go to the UK site or stay on the US site?

Adobe Systems |


URL Format

  • Acceptable URL formats include:

     - ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain)  

Example: / /      

     - gTLD (generic Top Level Domain) with Subdomain or Subfolder 

Example with subdomain: 

Example with subfolder: 

Microsoft | US website |

  • Use ISO codes in the subfolder or subdomain to indicate a language (ISO 639) or country (ISO 3166).

Example: en-us for English in the USA or ja-jp for Japanese in Japan

Microsoft | Japanese website |

Social Media

  • Place icons/links to your official social media accounts on your website. They should be accessible on all pages
  • The best location to place social media icons is a footer or top left corner

Starbucks | US website | | Social Media IconsStarbucks-us-website-version-social-media-icons.png

  • Localize social media accounts

McDonald's | International | | Localized Social MediaMcDonald's-localized-social-media.png

  • Use local social media. Many countries don't use Twitter and/or Facebook

Example: Weibo in China; VK in Russia

PayPal | Chinese website | | Local Social MediaPayPal-chinese-website-version-local-social-media.png

International Access

  • Make sure your website can be accessed from outside of the US unless you have specific reasons to block certain countries

Costco Wholesale | US website |

Brand Consistency/Design

  • Use a design template to maintain brand consistency

Volvo Group | Russian & Chinese websites | & | Global Design Template

Lenovo Group | Polish & Japanese websites | & | Global Design Template

All versions of your website shouldn't differ drastically across regions. You can localize images and slogans but you need to keep main brand assets such as colors, logo, typography, etc consistent.

When a global brand uses the same logo, key colors, and other branding elements it becomes recognizable.

Example: Chinese version of the Coca-Cola logo contains a company name translated and adapted for the Chinese audience. Coca-Cola in Chinese means 'bite the wax tadpole'. But the adapted version 可口可乐 (kě kǒu kě lè) translates as 'can be tasty, can be happy'. It sounds quite similar to Coca-Cola at the same time giving the brand a happy essence.

Coca-Cola | Chinese website | | Consistent logo with translated brand name

McDonald’s | Chinese website | | Consistent logo with a translated brand name

This guide is available in PDF format.

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