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I'm designing a website to provide support for internet connected devices. The website will also allow on-line purchases and subscription payments for accounts. I don't want to target only a specific country or region, but given that this is a new site, I don't want to invest a lot of time on detail before it has gained any traction.

Is it possible to get away with international standards rather than localization in most cases or is it significantly detrimental to do so?

If I can use international standards, are the following ones universal:

  1. Numbers are 1 000 000.00
  2. Currency values are USD 1 000 000.00
  3. Dates are 2014-06-09
  • Do you have a specific case in mind? It's unlikely there is one global 'rule' that applies to all internationalization issues, but we can probably advise you on what to do in a particular scenario. – JonW Jun 9 '14 at 11:55
  • @JonW, I edited my question. I made it as detailed as I can at the moment – neelsg Jun 9 '14 at 12:09
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The answer to your first question is no. Some of the biggest websites in the world started with supporting just one language. If you look at Google News today (you would agree with me that Google is pretty big) you will see there are many languages and locales that they still don't support, and the year is already 2014 - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg to name a few simply cannot be selected at http://news.google.com/.

To your question are the internationally-oriented formats you wrote universally understood, the answer would also be no. Many Americans would be confused seeing "USD" on their shopping cart, they would expect to see a "$" sign.

If you want to follow the formula of popular websites like Google, Amazon, and Stackexchange, get it right in one locale first and then expand the winning concept to other locales.

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    Yep, but do internationalize: that is prepare for localization by making all this locale specific stuff (USD, $, decimal separator, date format, first day of the week, etc) at least constants, preferably members of some "locale structure". It is good practice anyway and will make localization a heck of lot easier than having to search through code and database texts for locale specific strings. – Marjan Venema Jun 10 '14 at 18:55
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There are two factors at play here:

  1. Will international users understand non-localized numbers and dates.
  2. Will international users be put-off by your non-localized site and not want to purchase your product.

Given your statement "I don't want to invest a lot of time on detail before it has gained any traction," the best option is probably to just go with that is standard in your main target market, and let others figure it out. Most people will still be able to understand what you mean as in (1) above, but might be less likely to buy from a foreign website. Since you don't have any customers at all right now, the there are probably bigger opportunities for improving your product elsewhere, and you can worry about localization after you get traction (especially because you don't yet know which localities will be important).

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