It's a big world and localization matters

Tools


The old Disney song "It's a Small World After All" wasn't kidding. These days, the world is growing increasingly small and that means enterprises have to cater to foreign markets with content tuned to the local language, culture and currency. This week, we release an eBook that explores some of the issues they can face when dealing with translation and localization--from getting translations in and out of content management systems to finding ways to take translations mobile.

The fact is, you can't just confine yourself to the United States anymore (if you ever could). While it's a big market, there are growing opportunities outside U.S. borders if you learn to take advantage of them. Research has shown that people react best to websites when they are tuned to the local norms. That means making note of small things like phone number format and currency type, as well as larger cultural norms such as not mentioning U.S. holidays or using words and phrases that could offend local cultural sensibilities.

This eBook opens with a look at why you need to be thinking about localization. As one expert pointed out, just by being on the web you are an international presence. The more you plan for that, the more likely you'll be able to take advantage of markets outside of your home country. Of course, you can't accommodate every language and culture, so you have to formulate a strategy to meet the needs of the markets that matter most to you. You can always expand later on if need be, as you explore opportunities across different regions.

As you begin to accommodate new languages and cultures in different regions of the world, you have to make sure your web content management system, workflow and translation/localization vendor are tuned to work together to create the most efficient system possible. This is critical because you want to avoid doing more translation work than you absolutely require. Don't assume translation software works with your web content management system even if the specifications say it will.

You can let machines translate some of the content, but choosing which content you want machine translated is another important decision in the process. Machine translation is not for everyone or every type of content. It can be comically wrong sometimes; but for certain purposes--especially when it's repeatable content, such as hotel information on bed types, room types and so forth--it can work. But you need to know when it's a good idea to let machines deal with the translation and when you should leave it to humans, even if it's more expensive (which it will be).

And speaking of machine translation, when you choose how you're going to translate--whether machine or human--consider the impact it's going to have on your search engine optimization. According to experts, it could have an adverse effect and it's something you need to be worried about. Many visitors will find you through search engines. If you're getting a negative impact from using machine translation, it could affect how easily people find you.

Finally, the eBook looks at mobile translation. You might not think it's different, but consider it's sometimes hard to fit translated words on a smaller screen. What's more, the translation isn't just from one screen size to another, it usually involves adjusting the website for mobile and using less content. You also have to worry about translating mobile apps, which may fall outside of your web content management translation process.

We've created the eBook to give you a broad overview of translation and localization issues and decisions you need to make related to that. There's too big an opportunity in foreign markets to ignore it or risk executing it poorly. As with anything, it takes research and planning, and this eBook maps the issues you need to consider. We hope you find it useful.

The eBook is available for free. Please have a look and let us know what you think. - Ron