Friday, 26 July 2013

Localisation becomes a big issue

As the growth of global online spending increases, there is the recognition that people relating to services and products in their native language spend more. We'll all agree that there is nothing so off-putting as poor translation. It undermines the credibility of a site or app. If that is true for us English-speakers, it is also true for other languages. So, are you truly global? Are you aiming to reach non-English speakers? If so, how?

The whole question of what localisation is about has been analysed and examined in the last few years. And, unsurprisingly, the needs have increased across sectors and within development. See our earlier blogs for more on these aspects and Locaria, a dedicated localisation company, explains what it does at:

What's the fuss about then? We've already covered some of the basic issues, such as localisation doesn't just apply to words/text but to visuals and colours, but now the experience shows that apposite keyword use in different countries can affect the site's performance. It's not just translating the word again, but the gist according to the country's culture at a particular time. This is why you'll see some localisation companies linking themselves to SEO for different cultures. The games industry has woken up to the need for localisation to help sell their offerings in a particular country in a particular market and through a particular media channel. All of these affect the reception and spend. They have also realised that a game itself needs clear instructions in the native language to aid the user experience. Yes, localisation does cost a lot but you have to look at the return to understand the balance. We are talking global products and services here, remember.

It may come as a bit of a shock to you that experience shows that you'll save time and money if you plan for localisation in the development stage of the applications that are to be publicised internationally. You may well have to fight the fight with web developers and graphic designers because adding in globalisation can affect the design quite radically. For example, browsers seem to be poor in handling non-Roman character sets, especially if they read right-to-left. Text flow on the page can look significantly different when you move to, what are for us, complex character sets (ones that need double-byte encoding such as Chinese). See the Create an adaptable interface design section at Commercial Translation Centre's site. They highly recommend a fluid layout rather than a fixed-width design. With adaptive layouts already coping with mobile phone and tablet displays, can we consider anything to be 'standard' any more?

There's an increase in the number of jobs for localisers with iMedia experience. Companies dedicated to offering translation and localisation for iMedia have emerged. With the growing experience, the expertise on how to approach localisation professionally increases. Companies are also advertising jobs in this specialism as they recognise the need for a specialist to communicate with other specialists.

You know that a specialism has arrived when specialist tools are offered. Some have emerged for localisation and translation, but we haven't had any experience of them to comment. Have you? Finally, there are a few specialist training courses for companies that recognise their need for such services to iron out some of the problems that localisers find when they try to localise an application. SeeITR ( International Translation Resources } and their Best Practice Seminar on Software Localisation.