Why you should want your localisation team to change your copy

Ayelet Kessel
Booking.com — UX Writing
9 min readJun 30, 2020

How we localise at Booking.com and 4 takeaways to help you localise too

Some UX writers expect their localisation teams to produce a translation that’s identical to the original copy, yet somehow completely resonates with the market they’re localising for. I’d like to explain to you why this type of seemingly perfect translation actually doesn’t exist, and why you should advocate for greater involvement of localisation teams in copy creation.

Spoiler alert: localisation specialists can’t do it alone. Like UX writing and design, UX localisation is a collaborative process. If you want to guarantee that your product is well adapted to every market, you need to dive deep into the work your localisation team is doing and understand what you can do to support them.

Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels

Imagine that you’re writing or designing the perfect flow. It’s the best you’ve ever done. You managed to work around a complex issue and make everything completely accessible and simple for your audience to understand. Good job, you!

But now it’s time to localise that flow into five, ten or even 50 other languages. You send it over to the localisation team, add a few screenshots, write a couple of words about the flow — and that’s it. Your copy is perfect, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, actually, a lot. Things can go one of two ways:

  1. Your localisation team can translate your copy word for word — not adapting it to their culture, not using the language their audience uses, not taking into account the full context of your writing — creating a bland and flat version of the copy in their language.
  2. Or, they can do better — they can use UX writing tools, approaches and principles, combined with a deep understanding of their market, to localise your copy. They can create a version of it that’s different than yours— but will be as seamless and natural as the original, and will fit their audience completely.

The fluent, natural and accurate localisation you’re looking for isn’t going to be identical to your copy, and that’s okay. If they’re doing everything right, it can be every bit as good as the original. Let me show you how to get there.

How we localise at