As the Internet becomes fully engrained in all aspects of
people’s lives, the race to meet the demands of, and connect
with, users is at an all-time high. And as Web workers,
we see progress happening all around us. In one
area, however, the Web is failing to connect with a substantial
amount of users — more than 1.7 billion, in fact.
This is the number of non-English speaking Internet
users (73 percent) that cannot connect with more than
half of the material available on the Internet, because
it is in English. Clearly, this is disproportionate, as only
27 percent of Internet users are English speakers, but
56 percent of the material is targeted to them.
With these numbers, as well as global expansion
in mind, business owners turn to the many individuals
and companies that offer translation services.
But good translations do much more than just replace
one set of words for another, they actually convey
the feeling and tone that the original text captured.
If the translation is awkward or sounds
unnatural, the reader will probably move on to another
site, very quickly. So it is very important to
work with an experienced company, which has a
pool of linguists with the right education and experience
to craft a translation that reflects the hard
work and professionalism that was put into creating
the original text.
Additionally, careful consideration needs to be
made in determining the unique needs and characteristics
of the market a website targets. This is where
localization comes into play.
Regional Dialect Matters
In order to compete in the global marketplace you
need to build a connection with potential clients
through interactions. While communication is usually
a two-way street, a website only has one chance to
capture readers’ attention. So, your content must speak directly to readers in words they are comfortable with. This
is where straight translation falls short. There are many
countries that speak Spanish, but each one has different locally
used words, which may sound awkward or even offensive
in another country. This is true for other languages,
as well. It is also important to consider the region and target
sector within that market or your message may meet an unresponsive
or even worse, an offended audience.
Aside from the stylistic and cultural challenges, there are
also technical challenges to creating multilingual websites
that truly speak to your target market.
Databases and content management systems (CMS) are
useful tools that can help your website personalize the
interaction between the site and the user. If the site was
designed in English, the database may have portions of
sentences that can be put together to create a unique experience
for the user. The challenge is that each language
has its own structure, grammar and syntax, so that if you
just translate what is in each cell, the end product may be
illegible. Another factor is that many languages have masculine
and feminine words, which change the articles
and endings on words. So, based on the subject and the
sentence, different endings and articles will need to be
applied to most of the words. The number of items you
are talking about also changes the endings of words in
Design and layout also must be considered, not only to accommodate
the language, but also for general appearance
and color schemes. When designing the layout and text
placement, keep in mind that when translating to other
languages, the volume of text will change. With many languages,
the total number of words can increase by about 20
percent, so allowing for extra space from the beginning will
help. There are also languages that are written from right
to left, creating another design challenge.
If your website contains videos with people speaking in
them, you need to be sure you do the voiceover using
someone from the region you are targeting. The accent
from Spain is very different than the accent from Chile. In
order to build the connection to the listener you want the voice to sound familiar and comfortable.
Mannerisms also matter. In Bulgaria, shaking
your head side to side means yes and
nodding it up and down means no.
All of the above mentioned ideas are collected
under the label “localization,” which
is adapting a website’s content to the culture
to that of the target market. At a minimum
these are some of the factors that need to be
taken into consideration for a successful localization
1. Language. The language must be
adapted to match the region you are targeting.
Many countries speak the same language,
but culture and region play a big part
in how people communicate.
2. Numbers and punctuation.
Whether you are writing about the temperature
or simply writing a number, you need to
put it in a format that will make sense in your
target market. For example, in English, we
separate thousands by commas (e.g. 2,500).
However, in many other languages, they are
separated by periods (e.g. 2.500).
3. Design and layout. When you are
laying out text within artwork in English, you need to calculate
for spacing, as often times the text will expand or
contract when translated into other languages. Also, many
cultures view color usage as having different meanings and
that needs to be taken into account, as you don’t want to
send the wrong message.
4. Time. Localization takes time. Choosing an agency
with the right software, people and experience will allow
your newly crafted messages to reach their intended audiences
in a shorter time.
Remember, you only get one chance to make a good
first impression. By utilizing these localization and translation
best practices, you’ll take a vital step toward growth
in this dynamic global economy.
About the Author: Chad Orr is the Vice President of Link Translations.
Personalization is not new, but
its widespread popularity is. And
like any other widely-adopted
concept, personalization has
elicited a number of conflicting
definitions and questions. Many
recent adopters of personalization
assume it’s limited to online
methods, such as product recommendations
bought this, viewed that”) and
persona or segment-based content
however, is a broad concept that
describes the individual experience,
not the means or channel
through which it is achieved.
Since the concept is evolving
so quickly, Maxymiser Founder
and President Mark Simpson
shares two popular myths to
beware of as you devise your
personalization strategy for