Customer Experience

What is UI Localisation? 6 Best Practices for User Interface Localisation

Make sure your user-facing software is accessible and seamless for your multilingual customers. Learn the top 6 best practices for UI localisation.

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December 12, 2023


Reaching an international audience is a crucial goal for businesses and software developers. However, ensuring that your user interface (UI) speaks the language and meets the cultural expectations of diverse markets is no small feat.  

That’s where user interface localization comes into play. From design considerations to language-specific nuances, we’ll guide you through the essential practices that will not only enhance user experience but also drive your success in international markets.  

What is User Interface Design? 

User Interface (UI) design involves creating the visual and interactive elements of a software application or website that users interact with. UI design focuses on ensuring that the user's interaction with the product is intuitive, efficient, and visually appealing.  

Here are the key components and aspects involved in UI: 

Layout and Structure: Designers plan the layout and structure of the interface, arranging elements such as menus, buttons, and content in a logical and visually appealing manner. 

Visual Design: This includes choosing colors, typography, icons, and images that create a cohesive and visually pleasing design. Visual design aims to make the UI aesthetically appealing and reflective of the brand's identity. 

Interactive Elements: UI design incorporates interactive elements like buttons, forms, checkboxes, radio buttons, and dropdown menus. These elements should respond to user input in an expected and consistent manner. 

Navigation: Creating clear and intuitive navigation is crucial. Users should easily find their way through the application or website, whether through menus, breadcrumbs, or links. 

Internationalization (i18n) and Localization (L10n): If the application is intended for a global audience, UI design should consider internationalization (making the product adaptable for different languages and cultures) and localization (customizing the product for specific locales). 

Best Practices for UI Localization 

If these important steps in UI localization seem overwhelming for your business, there’s no need to stress. We’ve outlined the top 6 tips for a successful user interface localization project: 

1. Think about Internationalization from the Start 

Thinking about global expansion at the outset of product development is essential because internationalization involves adhering to specific rules and practices that need to be integrated into the product's foundation. Waiting until later stages can lead to costly and time-consuming retroactive adjustments. 

2. Research Terms in Your Target Market 

One critical aspect of UI localization is using terminology and design elements that resonate with the target audience. It's important to research how users in different regions interact with software. For instance, consider terms like "tap" or "click" in a user interface.  

Your translators need to use consistent terms for actions like "login" or "account" that align with common usage in the target language and culture. To streamline this process, consider using established UI glossaries, such as Microsoft's public UI glossaries, as a reference to maintain consistency throughout the localization process. 

3. Beware that Word Growth Creates UI Misalignments 

Investing in localization efforts before development begins can save substantial time and effort in addressing inconsistencies after the product's release. It's easier to design with localization in mind than to retrofit existing elements for different markets. 

For instance, word growth and misalignment can become a huge design issue once content is translated and localized. On average, there is a word growth of 20% from English to other languages. This means translation can break templates and generate misalignments on CTA buttons, images, and navigation menus when not internationalized correctly. 

4. Account for All UI Content 

Many developers underestimate the extent of localizable content in their user interface (UI). While text strings are obvious candidates for localization, other elements, such as data points pulled from a database, should also be considered.  

For example, a phrase like "Your shipment will be available on [VARIABLE]" includes date formats that may not be recognizable to a foreign audience. To create a seamless user experience, it's essential to identify and localize all types of content. 

5. Include (Localized) Visual Context 

UI often contains short, one-word strings that can be challenging to interpret without proper context. For instance, the word "book" can be a noun or a verb, each with different meanings.  

To prevent misunderstandings and ensure accurate translation, provide context to your localization team. When dealing with UI localization, context is key to delivering a user-friendly product in international markets. 

6. Work with a Software Localization Partner 

Collaborating with a software localization partner is a smart move. They bring expertise and experience in navigating the complexities of global markets, cultural nuances, and linguistic variations. A localization partner can help streamline the entire process, from translation to design adaptation, ensuring a smooth transition into international markets. 

How MotionPoint Can Help 

User interface localization is not just a post-development task; it's a critical consideration from the inception of your product. By adhering to specific principles, conducting thorough research, designing with localization in mind, accounting for all UI content, providing context, and partnering with experts, you can pave the way for successful global expansion.  

Starting early and thinking globally will ultimately lead to a more inclusive and competitive product on the international stage. Working with the localization experts at MotionPoint will make the process effortless for you and will ensure the best user experience possible. 

Last updated on December 12, 2023
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About Verity

Verity's avatar

Product Manager, Data Engineering


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