Developing and Managing International Content
Your multilingual content can drive your business into new markets.
Creating original, source content intended for multiple language markets can be a daunting task — not to mention the responsibility of managing that content across departments, time zones, and product lines.
With a bit of preparation, however, you can ease the international content creation and management process enormously.
Here is our top-10 list of tips to keep in mind when taking your content global:
- Follow writing best practices.
- Write short, clear sentences.
- Limit dependent clauses. One thought per sentence helps translators and increases savings from translation memory matches.
- Avoid idiomatic expressions. These are easily misinterpreted.
- Avoid cultural references — like sports metaphors or quotations from literary or pop icons — as these often do not work across cultures.
- Make sure symbols are internationally recognized. Don’t assume that a symbol (i.e. a stop sign) has the same meaning in other markets.
- Be concise. Consider writing less, as fewer words will mean lighter translation costs.
- Be clear and consider your audience. More than likely you will be writing the original source content in English. However, keep in mind an international, non-English-speaking audience when creating the source content. Additionally, consider the middleman: your content and concepts will need to be interpreted and translated from one cultural market to another. Your content needs to be clear enough for the translator to understand it correctly and appropriately render it for the target market.
- Before you begin translation, set up your translation support toolkit. Make sure you have an agreed upon glossary and style guide in place for translation. With these in place, you will save time and money and reduce headaches.
- Provide editable source files. Providing editable/layered source files, for content as well as images, is critical to smooth localization. If a non-editable source file such as a PDF is provided, re-creation will be necessary prior to localization, which can add considerable time and cost to the project.
- Follow these image best practices to keep costs down.
- Keep text out of images
- Use screenshots sparingly
- Allow for expansion of the text associated with an image
- Layer your files
- Link images rather than embedding them in your file
- Store screen captures and art separately
- Store localizable images separately from non-localizable images
- Use a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS will help with version control, effective QA and reviews, and promote re-use and consistency.
- Manage your terminology. Ideally done before localization, establish a company-wide glossary that is vetted by management and reviewers. Collaborating on this list of English terms will help to ensure that all teams are in agreement on how to approach the core terminology that is unique to your organization. Also consider which terms should stay in English (i.e. product name, trademarked items, etc.)
- Intelligently conduct change management of your documents. Edits happen. However, to reduce costs and headaches, it’s best to establish planned, formal updates for your documents. And if you have to send changes, it’s best to have these batched in order to avoid minimum charges or iterative processing fees
- Be strategic. Get management and in-country buy-in for your documentation process. Make sure there is communication between departments (you may want to create a simple portal / intranet with guidelines, contact information, etc. surrounding documentation creation and management). Lastly, make localization part of the global plan. All of these strategies will save the company time and money.
Successful localization of content can help drive your business into new language markets. Arm yourself with a localization partner that knows how to navigate the cultural and technological challenges of taking your project multilingual.
Writing for international audiences. We get it.