Internationalization for Proactive Localization

Translation team proactively planning for internationalization.

Internationalization, otherwise known as i18n, is a broad term that centers on getting your product or content ready for new markets. It’s often used in conjunction with localization, but it’s important to remember that the two terms are very different. Internationalization is your entire framework; it’s what makes your offering ready for the new market. Localization is just a small component of that, encompassing all the technical parts of translating your content into a new language. The two need to be clearly defined because your internationalization should always predate your localization.

You can begin your internationalization process even before you decide which markets to target. It’s always best to develop your offerings with the idea that they’ll eventually require translation, which may include adding variables, using simple language, or structuring your terms in a way that makes them easy to translate. Every single language you add will make your program exponentially more complicated, so beginning with a very organized, streamlined space is your best bet for success.

Preparing for Success Early on
Businessman experiencing internationalization success from early preparation.

Internationalization is founded on the idea that thinking globally early on prepares you for success. It sets the framework for your product and your entire content ecosystem in new markets, so that when it comes time to translate, you’re ready. Unfortunately, most companies create their products with only an English-langage focus. They only begin to think of localization when they’ve reached a market plateau.

An excellent example of this can be seen in content management system (CMS) selection. Many leaders default to WordPress because of its ease of use in English. It offers a ton of features and plugins that are helpful for companies trying to manage all their content efficiently and effectively. It’s such a simple system to work with that about 40% of all websites use it.

Now compare that to a less-often used CMS, like Adobe Experience Manager. This one is much more difficult to use and has fewer plug-and-play features. It’s also a bit more expensive than WordPress and requires more manual maintenance. For those reasons, it accounts for only 0.1% of all websites.

It may be tempting to choose the CMS that provides the most English support and an easy user interface, but when it comes time to expand to multilingual markets, WordPress will likely fall short. WordPress is somewhat lacking when it comes to multilingual support. Typically, users are limited to utilizing connectors that require a lot of manual intervention. On the other hand, Adobe Experience Manager offers much more robust support, giving companies a much better likelihood at succeeding in new market expansion.

Treating the Content Ecosystem as a Whole

When it comes to internationalization, businesses have a tendency to focus solely on their product. However, there’s a lot more to consider than the user experience and functionality of your product. You must look at the entire content ecosystem, which encompasses a lot of different parts.

Support Websites
Primary Marketing
Marketing Collateral
Companies need to have customer support available for their visitors and clients, but providing this in a wide array of languages can be challenging. Scripts are typically necessary to allow agents to communicate via phone and webchat.
Marketing meanings don't always translate to new locales—especially if that material is nation-specific or patriotic. The messaging may need to be updated—along with the content—to ensure their resonation.
User instructions, product details, registration forms, and any accompanying material will all require translation. This can be incredibly challenging, as someone who translates this material will need to have an intimate understanding of the product.
Legal Disclosures
Search Engine Optimization
Multimedia Content
Privacy notifications, recall notices, and other pertinent legal documents require translation into the applicable reader’s native language. This process is especially challenging, given that the translator needs to have a thorough understanding of legalese to ensure the contract reflects the intended messaging.
Search engine optimization (SEO) costs companies thousands of dollars to develop, but all its efforts can be lost when keyword opportunities are missed due to direct translation. New content doesn't just need to reflect the brand; it also needs to maintain keyword integrity.
Video, audio files, and other non-text content present an additional challenge, as many translation agencies aren't prepared to offer updates to these types of files. You either need to find a company that provides an end-to-end solution, or you will need to maintain relationships with multiple vendors.

Internationalization is an all-encompassing strategy that needs to account for the various platforms, materials, and managers involved in every aspect of new market entry. Successfully managing all of its components can be a challenging feat, but a solution comes in the form of automation.

Focusing on Automation in Internationalization

Adding languages increases complexity exponentially, so managing the accompanying workflow becomes incredibly difficult. Automation is considered an ideal solution, but often, managers don’t quite understand what it is. In many cases, they’ll mistake connectors for automation, when in fact they’re very different.

Connector
Automation
Connectors are just features of platforms. Let’s use the WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML) as an example. This is a pipeline from the CMS to the translator and back again. However, it still requires ample manual intervention, as the process will require importing and exporting documents, as well as setting up jobs every time there is a change to the source language. This is not a total solution to translation management; t's merely a tool that facilitates it. It will still be up to the project manager to recognize that a job requires creation when the source text changes and schedule those tasks as needed.
With an automated setup, a change in your English source text automatically triggers jobs in all existing languages. Requiring minimal oversight, these jobs are assigned to translators based on their experience and prior success metrics. Tasks are then completed on a collaborative platform where translation memory and corporate lexicons guide translators through the right choices. Once completed, they’re returned, approved, and uploaded. This process ensures the website is consistently up-to-date and that project managers don't have to spend hours handling manual tasks.

Automation manages the workflow at a holistic level. It’s a proactive, turnkey solution that allows for better control of the entire process from beginning to end.

The Importance of Proactivity in New Market Entry
Translation team collectively saying, “stay proactive,” in reference to preparing for internationalization.

Most companies approach internationalization backwards. They start with localization, where their translation efforts are solely focused on English. Then, they use reports, complaints, and low returns on investment to justify improvements and updates to their poorly-executed internationalization strategy. This reactive process is one that costs companies valuable time and money.

Proactively managing internationalization involves creating and adapting content that keeps the performance, user adoption, and total experience strong. It allows for the content ecosystem to be seamlessly carried over into new markets, earning a high return on investment. By leveraging a powerful localization management platform to automate tasks and control the entire content ecosystem, you can grow your market on a global scale in a way that’s both cost-effective and efficient.

Bureau Works guides you through internationalization with an end-to-end solution that works with your entire content ecosystem and automates many common tasks. Contact our team for more information.

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