What is Internationalization?
Internationalization, often abbreviated as i18n, is a design approach where a website or an application is built to support various languages and regional differences. This is achieved by extracting all user-visible strings from the code into separate files, making it easier to translate and adapt the software for different languages and regions without having to change the source code.
Why is Internationalization Important?
Reaching a Broader Audience
- By supporting multiple languages, your website or application can cater to a global audience. This opens up opportunities to reach more users and potential customers.
- It also enhances the user experience as users can interact with your website or application in their preferred language.
Improving Business Growth
- Internationalization can contribute to business growth by enabling the expansion into new markets. With a multilingual website, you are not limited to a specific geographical location.
- It could also increase your website’s visibility in search engines in different languages, thus attracting more traffic.
Key Elements of Internationalization
A locale is a set of parameters that defines the user’s language, country and any special variant preferences.
It is crucial to use a character encoding that includes all characters and symbols for the languages you wish to support. Unicode (UTF-8) is the most common character encoding as it includes virtually all characters and symbols from all writing systems.
Some languages are written from right to left, such as Arabic and Hebrew. Your website’s design and layout should accommodate this.
Date and Time Formats
Date and time formats vary between countries. Your website should display dates and times in a format that is familiar to the user.
Internationalization is a crucial aspect of web design and development, particularly for businesses aiming to reach a global audience. By taking into consideration the different elements of internationalization, you can create a website that is accessible, user-friendly, and successful in different markets around the world.