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Internationalizing and Localizing a Website
Concerns over time and location formatting

 2:35 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

My website has supports several different countries and languages but I'm not entirely sure how to support this. My big concern is time and distance.

One a page is the time when results were last updated. It's currently formatted as "6:37 am" or "3:58 pm" for all users. Does this make sense or should I display "6:47" or "15:58"?

For distances I'm currently displaying "190ft W" for users in The United States, Myanmar, and Libya. For all other users I'm displaying "58m W". Are cardinal directions internationalized? Would a french speaker know "W" stands for "Ouest"? Or should it be translated to "190ft O" or "58m O" respectively?

Also, I'm concerned for "proper" formatting. Should it be:
  • 190ft
  • 190 ft
  • 190FT
  • 190 FT
  • 190-ft
  • 190-FT
  • 190 feet
  • 190-feet
I don't know if I should be adverse to using "feet" instead of "ft", would I need to translate if it was spelled out? Would I need to translate it if it was abbreviated?

I have a similar "proper" formatting concern for time. Should it be:
  • 6:37 am
  • 6:37am
  • 6:37 AM
  • 6:37AM
I should note that the country is only used to detect if the metric or imperial system should be used. Also, while the language and country are detected automatically, there are user overrides for language and measuring units.



 3:33 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

ISO 8601 is considered the international standard for date and time notation.
i'm not aware of the equivalent for distance notation.


 4:02 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Would a french speaker know "W" stands for "Ouest"?


Or should it be translated to "190ft O" or "58m O" respectively?

HTH :) ..


 2:08 am on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

You are asking some questions that are a matter of "house style". In a newspaper or corporate office there is often a book that lists such dilemmas and gives the preference.

Generally speaking, if you write as if you are a US website, the rest of the world will make allowances for you and figure it out. In Australia we use metrics for everything measurable and occasionally we come across sites where the webmaster has tried too hard to localise for us, then decided that all the "UK" settings are fine for us. No, we (official signs, not humans) use kg for weight and km for distance. So you're less likely to get into trouble if you don't try to cover too many countries.

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