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10 Most Important Elements of a Website You Can’t Overlook on Chinese Localization Strategies

Maria Krisette Capati, Author

16 September 2019

You can’t help but wonder how on earth are you able to connect with more than 1 billion consumers in China. The internet is one of the most powerful advertising tools. But how can you capitalize on the available resources?

If you’re serious in targeting Chinese consumers, you must embrace language solutions. It involves translation, localization, transcreation, and more. As a global brand, you want to make sure your website has the best practices in Chinese localization.

Success doesn’t come overnight in China. Deploying the best practices on your websites will help you get the results you want. But of course, you need a team to work with you and guide you as you jumpstart your Chinese localization journey.

Let’s get the facts straight. The online retail market in China is one of the fastest-growing markets. It’s expected to hit $1.8 trillion in 2022, where local tech giants Alibaba and JD.com fuel the growth. As of this writing, there are 829 million internet users.

Can you imagine how many potential consumers you can reach? So, below are the 8 most important elements of a website you need to consider to make sure you’re all set and ready.

READ MORE >> How to Save Money on Chinese Translation Services

#1 Content of the website matters

At first, when you visit Apple’s website and compare the English and Chinese pages, you can’t spot the differences quickly.

apple website english

Apple Global Website

But as you browse and scroll down, you’ll find the changes in the texts and the content. The Chinese version gives emphasis on products like Apple Watch, AirPods, and Music. The English site features the TV+, Arcade, and the Apple card as a payment option for Apple purchases.

Apple Chinese Website

So, what does this first element – the content – tell us? It’s not enough to simply translate the texts in Chinese. Never forget the layout and the products that consumers prefer. Translating the texts is part of the localization process. But thinking from the perspective of the consumer is crucial, too.

What are the popular and available products that you should highlight for your Chinese audience?

#2 Simplified Chinese vs. Traditional Chinese texts

Still looking at the Apple sites as examples, as a global brand, you also need to consider the written texts.

Translation tasks will be a lot easier if you’re targeting the audience in mainland China. They use Simplified Chinese. But what if you also have customers in Hong Kong or Taiwan? See the magnified Traditional Chinese characters on the Hong Kong website below.

Apple Hong Kong Website

The Traditional Chinese version has more strokes than the Simplified version. Taiwan and Hong Kong people, including overseas Chinese living in Singapore or Malaysia, prefer Traditional Chinese. Check Apple’s Hong Kong and Taiwan pages, you’ll see that the layout of the products is almost the same as the US.

Apple Mainland China Website

The Hong Kong and Taiwan versions almost offer the same products as TV+, Arcade, and iPads. But the Apple card isn’t shown there. As a payment option, it’s not available in these countries.

#3 Cluttered vs Clean website layout

When it comes to best practices in layout and design, more spaces and clean layouts work with a western audience. One of the best practices on website design and texts is to provide white spaces for readers. But when it comes to Chinese versions, it’s the other way around.

IKEA UK Website

The cluttered the site is, the merrier. Flashy banners, Chinese characters sprawling across the screen and colorful designs. These are some of the things you need to consider when localizing your website.

Let’s take a look at IKEA’s UK and Chinese sites. You’ll see how different the latter is from the former. The Chinese site shows promotional banners and texts spread across the site. In short, one of the best practices in Chinese localization is to maximize the spaces.

IKEA Mainland China Website

From the shopper’s experience, it’s hard to type the characters. So, it’ll be best to post products, information, and categories as links. They can easily click and land to another page.

#4 Map out categories and products links

In connection with the previous point, when it comes to layout, you must map out the categories. Provide everything they need on the homepage and streamline the products for selling.

For example, when you browse the VIP shop, a luxury shopping website, you’ll find that the homepage is full of info. The categories and links are easy to read and access. Plus, the infinite scroll makes it easier for shoppers to browse and search for items.

VIP Shop Mainland China Website

Aside from the categories on the upper part of the homepage, there are also floating icons on the left side. These links and categories may seem unnecessary. But when it comes to how consumers scroll pages in China, they are helpful and user-friendly. The goal is to simplify the user experience when shopping.

#5 Social media channels and QR codes as opt-ins

Details are a huge consideration when localizing your website in Chinese. The essential elements you can’t overlook are the social media channels and opt-ins on your pages. If you’re not active on any local social media channel, this should be a priority on the marketing side.

WeChat is a popular instant messaging app that works as a universal app in China. You may want to research more about WeChat marketing and its features. Discover how it can be valuable to your marketing efforts.

JD.com, one of the biggest e-commerce websites in China, was intentional when it comes to opt-ins, too. When you hover the mouse on the “Mobile” link, you’ll find QR codes on the right side of the screen on desktop view.

Call-to-action buttons on western websites are buttons. But in China, consumers prefer to scan QR codes to pay or even visit a link or an account. Some brands invest in designing custom QR codes to make them aesthetically appealing.

So, make sure that your opt-ins are visible. And at the same time, links to your local social media channels, links, and other landing pages.

#6 Implement transcreation and copywriting on ads

Point #2 above focuses on the translation of texts. But of course, there are some elements on your website that need copywriting. In our industry, the word transcreation and copywriting are almost entirely the same. Translation focus on the language itself. But transcreation focuses on the emotions and culture.

People these days have a short attention span, even shorter than the goldfish at eight seconds. So, how will you create retention and stickiness on your website as visitors browse and shop? That’s where transcreation comes in the scene.

Nike United States Website

For example, take a look at Nike’s Chinese and International page. You’ll see the differences, not just on the layout, designs, and photos on the page. But an advertisement across the screen that features the 11.11 sale for next month.

Nike Mainland China Website

The 11.11 sale is one of the most awaited e-commerce sales in China and has influenced global brands, too. In short, translation of texts is just the first step. But to go deeper into effective marketing strategies, you must get into transcreation.

#7 Localized payment gateways

You can’t afford to lose this crucial element on your website, especially if you have an online store. Most Chinese consumers pay online via WeChatPay and AliPay. They don’t use PayPal or other international payment platforms.

Find out how you can integrate these payment solutions into your website. The secret is to make payment options easier for your potential customers. This would require investment in technology and development. But this may also yield positive returns in the long-run.

So, what can you do? You may want to explore the services of QFPay. A start-up that has raised $36.5 million for funding to develop digital payment solutions. It’s also one of the biggest global partners of WeChatPay and Alipay. To process payments, you may need QR code-based technology, since this is how most Chinese pay.

#8 Chatbox for customer support

If you have visited Chinese websites, you’ll notice a dominant element. The chatbox. Usually, the chatbox is visible on the right-side, or sometimes it floats on the lower-right corner.

Don’t underestimate the power of chat for your website. This is where you can close the gap between customer brand awareness and sales.

Most customers will ask about your products and brand, and you need to be responsive always. But you can also provide the available hours of chat support on the site itself.

Integrating chat support adds personalization to your brand’s activities. And while chatbot service is available on some companies, it’s best to have a human to tend to the queries.

Your next step on website localization

There are also other factors involved when it comes to website localization. You also need to consider your Terms & Conditions and Company Policies. You may also need legal support when it comes to cyber laws to make sure you comply with the rules and policies.

We know that it can be overwhelming to think about these critical elements. But you can start somewhere and work with a local team or an agency who knows the industry and market. You want to make sure that you do it right and play by the rules to avoid any issues online.

The first step could be: fill in the form below and share your short-term and long-term goals. Share with us your challenges and barriers to entry in the market.

Fill in the form below and we will get back to you with a quote on your project.

As we are constrained by resources, we will only serve those deserve our attention and time. We will only focus on clients who are already decided which projects to prioritize and understand the importance of translation and localization efforts.

china market writer

Maria Krisette Capati

Krisette or "Sette" for short is a professional writer and copywriter who loves to cover disruptive technologies, digital trends in China, and a myriad of geeky and innovative topics. She's the Content Strategist at AZ-Loc and currently manages the English website and in-charge of the social media channels. She has been writing about China markets, business, and startups since 2012. She has gained her expertise as a China internet specialist and is fascinated by its business ethics, language, and culture. She's a major of Business Management and Entrepreneurship and an advocate of faith-based non-profit organizations. When she's not writing or dabbling with Sophie and the team, she satiates her wanderlust as a digital nomad. 

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