l10n & i18n

I am sure you have heard about Internationalization and Localization before.
But what is it?
And should I pay attention?
Nowadays, the market is global and so should your products and web presence be.
For example, of the whole online population, only a part speaks English, and it is known that costumers are 3 times more likely to buy from a website which uses their native language.
Internationalization is the process of adapting a product, service or content so that it can deal with multiple languages, writing directions and cultural conventions without the need for different designs. It usually involves creating an interface and content that are culturally neutral.
Internationalization is often the first step towards Localization, and it can be abbreviated to i18n.
When adapting or creating internationalized content one needs to keep in mind the construction of phrases, terminology and avoid using humor, religious or political references, slang, etc. Another thing to watch for is formatting conventions as numbers, 12h vs. 24h, currency, address formats, etc.
Graphics are also an important part! So, for internationalization, and later localization easiness, embedded text should be avoided, if possible. Gestures and symbols should also be avoided, as they may not be equally perceived by all cultures.
As for files, XML is the recommended for international sites, as it allows to separate content from code, facilitates translation and supports Unicode, XLIFF and TMX, for example.
On the other hand, Localization is intended to deepen the Internationalization process.
It involves using the internationalized content and adapt it to a particular market, both linguistically and culturally. The content, product or service should look and feel as it was created for the target market, in the target market. It can be abbreviated to l10n.
The idea behind Localization is to make your website’s visitor, the person buying your services or products to feel comfortable and overcome the concerns about distance. They should be focused on the service/product and why they need/want it, not thinking about eventual problems concerning warranty, reliability, etc. It is also very useful to eliminate misunderstandings and protect yourself from future problems of costumers who did not fully comprehend your service/product.
It is up to you to determine which languages/markets you should localize to and if you are ready to localize.
The chart above is useful to help you determine this.
For example, English alone represents a potential 478M costumers. Add Portuguese and you get 551M potential clients. Not everyone speaks English, and remember that “costumers are 3 times more likely to buy from a website which uses their native language”.
You also need to keep in mind your ability to supply the market you are targeting, the demand for your product or service, trade laws and that some languages cost more than others to translate.
These are just some of the aspects that Internationalization and Localization encompasses.
Thank you for reading!