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Chapter 7. INTERNATIONALIZATION AND LOCA... > THE I18N AND L10N OF AN AUTOMOBILE

THE I18N AND L10N OF AN AUTOMOBILE

The principles behind internationalization and localization extend beyond web development, even to something much more concrete, like a car. A car, like a web site, is expensive to design and build. To minimize costs and maximize returns, a car manufacturer often develops a car model that can be easily adapted to numerous countries, instead of developing new models for each country. Doing so requires internationalization. The internationalization stage is the “behind the scenes” stage. People don’t buy internationalized cars; they buy localized cars. Internationalization mostly entails the extensive planning and testing that go into creating this global template of a car. For example, if the car will be sold in both the U.S. and the U.K., allowances must be made for placing a steering wheel on either side of the car. Some car manufacturers might decide during this process that some markets are just not worth the cost of localization efforts. It’s a cost/benefit decision that you’ll also have to make as you internationalize your web site.

After internationalization is finished, the car can be localized for each market. The more thorough the job you do of internationalization, the less time you’ll spend on localization. Localization can be as simple as moving the steering wheel to the other side or could be as complex as deciding what color palette to offer. The line between localization and personalization is not always so clearly defined. Inevitably, you want your web site to be as customized as possible to your audience, but you can’t do everything. Even car manufacturers don’t offer every option imaginable, which is why car buyers do a fair amount of customization themselves. Just as in the internationalization stage, the decisions you make during localization are heavily dictated by costs and benefits.


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