Localization Problems: 10 Biggest Challenges and Solutions

Adedamola Ojedokun
15 Sep 2023

10 min. read


Sometimes you need to shake your hand frenetically. You know, to regain feeling in it after holding a chilled bottle of bubbly.

Other times, you need to dance and sing for hours on end.

Oh, the usual challenges of celebrating successful localization projects.

Alas, other localization problems and pain points aren’t as easily manageable.

But you can do it!

With our practical advice, you’ll be able to solve all localization issues and get right to tackling project celebration challenges instead.

Pro tip: Effortlessly solve your localization problems using the professional localization management platform – Centus. Learn more.

Problem #1: Communication and cooperation

people having a conversation Source: iStock

Imagine a multinational firm preparing to launch its new product in new foreign markets. The marketing staff at the headquarters is ecstatic, picturing the victorious moment when their innovative product will take the world by storm.

However, as they start the localization process, they encounter an unanticipated stumbling block – miscommunication and confusion among several departments.

It's like attempting to build a sandcastle using mismatched buckets and shovels. The creative team has one idea, the developers have another, and the translators are stuck in a linguistic maze, trying to translate complex marketing materials with no success.

The result? A frustrating tug-of-war in which the sandcastle becomes a lopsided sand mound.


  • Set up regular cross-functional meetings. Each department may bring their set of skills to the table, thereby improving creativity and innovation.
  • Use project management tools to improve communication and break down language barriers.

Problem #2: Slow time to market

a person looking at a clock Source: Pexels

You have a great product, an excellent marketing strategy, and a target market that can’t wait to lay their hands on your offer. Your team is ready to enter the market, but localization pops up and slows the entire process.

Suddenly, that once-promising timeline fades into obscurity, and your competitors start gaining ground.

So, what's the cause of this sluggishness? Content translation, cultural adaptation, and technical glitches all add to the slowdown.

It's not just about the words but also about ensuring that your message is easily understood across cultures, technologies, and platforms.


  • Break your localization process into smaller, more manageable portions. Prioritize essential content elements and address them one at a time.
  • Automate manual processes with translation memory, content management systems, machine translation tools, and localization platforms.
  • Use collaboration tools to boost the productivity of your remote teams.
  • Implement a parallel processing mindset. While your translators are doing their linguistic magic, your developers and designers should be preparing the technical processes.
  • Involve your localization team from the start of product development. In this manner, you may plan for localization-friendly designs, content, and coding methods, eliminating potential stumbling blocks later on.

Problem #3: Translation errors

facepalming person Source: Pexels

Translation errors usually thwart localization efforts. These can range from amusing mix-ups to possibly offensive mistakes, transforming your well-intended message into a cringe-worthy blunder.

For instance, imagine a software application that mistakenly asks users to "press here for explosive results" instead of "press here for impressive results."

Ouch! Such errors not only harm your brand's credibility but can also lead to misinterpretation, confusion, and even legal issues.


  • Set up a team of skilled human translators who are fluent in both the source and target languages.
  • Ensure your translators have solid transcreation skills to retain your content’s essence while ensuring its appeal to the target audience.
  • Ensure that your content creators and translators collaborate frequently and seamlessly. Regular feedback loops, open communication channels, and context-rich briefings help establish a seamless and accurate translation process.

Problem #4: Cultural barriers

people dressed in traditional attire Source: Pexels

Language isn't the only barrier that you need to overcome to account for cultural differences. You also need to understand the idioms, nuances, and cultural references that elevate a language beyond mere words on a page.

Cultural backgrounds, differences, historical contexts, and even color associations can turn a well-intended message into a disaster.

For instance, think about how the word "gift" denotes a present in English but poison in German. What a marketing fiasco waiting to happen!


  • Hire cross-cultural experts who are adept at the intricacies of different societies.
  • Adopt the "glocal" strategy, which combines global and local viewpoints to ensure that your message not only survives but flourishes in the new environment.
  • Maintain a balance between sensitivity and humor. When used correctly, humor can bridge gaps and build a memorable connection with your audience.
  • Respect local cultures and beliefs. Thorough research and an honest attempt to understand the culture will go a long way toward establishing trust and connection with your target audience.

Problem #5: SEO issues

the word SEO Source: Pexels

Imagine you’ve painstakingly prepared the content of your website to rank high on search engines in your region. Your efforts have paid off, and your website is attracting a lot of traffic and conversions.

You're delighted to expand your offerings to new markets. However, as you start the localization process, you encounter an unanticipated problem. Your once-gleaming SEO effort is now in jeopardy.

The fate of your carefully selected keywords is one of the most significant SEO issues in localization. What works in your native language may fall flat or even lead to unintended meanings when translated directly.

For instance, a catchy English phrase could transform into a mess in the target language. Consider trying to sell "painkillers" in the French market, where the English word "pain" means “bread”.


  • Use glocal keywords that are both globally and locally relevant. Instead of merely translating keywords, learn about your target audience's cultural nuances and language complexities.
  • Collaborate with native speakers, carry out extensive study, and maintain a balance between universality and specificity.
  • Create custom meta descriptions for each language. Make sure they cater to each target market's unique search behaviors.
  • Develop relationships with industry leaders, influencers, and bloggers in each target market. Customize your outreach, collaborate on content, and build a network of contacts to support your SEO efforts in all languages.

Problem #6: Technical challenges

a person stuck in matrix Source: Pixabay

Assume you're introducing a revolutionary product to a foreign market. Your marketing materials are flawless, your brand messaging is spot-on, and your enthusiasm is evident.

But then you face a stumbling block of technical difficulties that threaten to turn your thrilling adventure into a nightmare. Technical problems that you can encounter during localization include:

  • Text expansion/ collapse
  • Character encoding
  • Text direction and bidirectional languages
  • Font compatibility
  • Version control and collaboration
  • Wrong or missing translation strings


  • Invest in tools that provide seamless format conversion, ensuring that your hard work preserves its aesthetic appeal.
  • Make comprehensive compatibility testing a priority. Use virtual environments that simulate the setup of your target market.
  • Use an agile coding approach that favors modular and structured code. Use localization-friendly frameworks and libraries that are suitable for different languages.
  • Implement a comprehensive version control system that allows cross-language collaboration and change tracking. Set up clear protocols and guidelines for localization to ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page.

Problem #7: Budget issues and unexpected costs

a stack of cash and a calculator Source: Pexels

When localizing your marketing material, note that while the world is your oyster, pearls aren't always easy to find.

Budget issues and unexpected costs are usually lurking beneath the surface, threatening to derail even the most precisely planned localization efforts.

For instance, imagine you've spent time and effort customizing your product or service for new countries, only to realize that exchange rates and currency changes have increased your budget.

What appears to be a sound investment in one currency may turn out to be a budgetary localization problem in another. It's like a plot twist that catches even the most seasoned localization project managers off guard.


  • Consult with financial specialists to help you mitigate currency-related risks.
  • Clearly define the scope of your localization efforts from the start and adhere to them.
  • Implement a change management process to ensure that scope expansions are thoroughly examined for their impact on budget and timing.
  • Work closely with local experts to gain insights into design preferences, color symbolism, and cultural sensitivity. A little cultural awareness can go a long way toward avoiding costly blunders.

Problem #8: Design and layout preservation

designing an Apple app Source: Pixabay

You've probably experienced it before. Your elegant, symmetrical design transforms into jumbled pieces after translation.

Text expansions and contractions can devastate your layout, transforming your lovely user interface into a mess.

That call-to-action button you strategically placed on your page? It might now be filled with a chunk of text that was perfectly sized in English but overflows in another language.

But hold on, there's more! Fonts may become unreadable, images may become misaligned, and your meticulous use of white space may vanish like a mirage in the desert.

It's a terrifying experience for designers who pour their hearts and souls into every pixel and aspect. Not to mention languages that read right to left, which might transform your interface localization into a perilous journey.


  • Use design localization best practices to ensure that your design remains visually appealing and usable across languages and cultures.
  • Allow for text expansion and contraction, as well as right-to-left languages.

Learn more about UI and UX localization here.

Problem #9: Difficulty with proving ROI

a finger pressing a ROI icon Source: iStock

One of the most difficult aspects of proving ROI is the complicated journey that buyers take before making a purchase.

The influence of localization may not always be immediately apparent. A customer may come across a localized social media post, visit the website, look through other localized content, and then make a purchase.

It may be difficult to connect the links between these phases to determine which touchpoint caused the conversion to calculate ROI and determine if you localize effectively.


  • Use the personalization power of the localized content. Write messages that are relevant to the preferences and culture of each market.
  • Create surveys or feedback loops where you ask customers about their journey. Did they make a decision based on localized content? Analyze both qualitative and quantitative data to get a clear picture of the impact of your localization.
  • Use modern analytics tools to analyze the data. Track user activity across several touchpoints, deploy attribution models, and generate a data mosaic that highlights the value of each encounter.
  • Track trends over time to capture gradual changes in engagement, loyalty, and conversion rates.

Problem #10: Localization quality issues

crumpled paper and crossed out lines Source: Pexels

Assume you've painstakingly designed a great marketing strategy that's been a hit in your local market. The humor, wordplay, and emotional appeal are all precisely matched to your target audience.

Fast forward to your international debut, after you've decided to expand into other markets. You put your valuable marketing material through the localization mill, only to have it emerge as a pale shadow of its previous self.

The humor goes flat, the emotions fade, and your well-planned campaign turns out to be a mess.


  • Implement a rigorous quality assurance process that includes testing the localized product in real-world scenarios.
  • Keep lines of communication open with your QA localization team. Provide context for your brand voice, product, and the nuances of your content.
  • Enlist the help of native speakers and cultural specialists to ensure that the localization process extends beyond literal translation.
  • Allow local stakeholders to assess the localized content to identify any potential issues. Their feedback might help fine-tune your messaging.
  • Learn from each iteration, solicit feedback, and always improve your strategy.

Read this article to learn best practices for localization QA.

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