Writers these days, whether for websites, software, or documentation, face interesting new challenges when communicating technical material and product info to a broad-based international audience. In a recent article for the Content Wrangler, Acclaro President Michael Kriz offers up compelling insights and ten useful tips to help you create content for your diverse global audience.
As we become an increasingly global economy, there is increasing demand on writers — particularly those who work with technical language that describes products and services — to adapt to the changing needs of companies’ customer demographics. When a product is slated to launch in 20 new markets, and over half of the markets require translation of documentation, it completely changes the game for the technical writer. So, to effectively scale a global business, you and your writers should keep a few things in mind.
1. Use global English –For every native speaker of English, there are about three non-native speakers. It’s important that your communication in English is understandable to all English speakers, which means short, simple sentences and no idiomatic expressions or cultural references.
2. Keep it concise –Shorter sentences, no double negatives, and fewer “mini-words” (a, at, the, and) ease understanding by your translators, which will result in faster and more accurate translations into target languages.
3. Use consistent terminology –Remember that good technical communication and comprehension depend on using the same word to describe the same concept over and over again. More variety means more room for confusion and mistranslation.
4. Get ready for text to grow –Text expansion is a fact of translation. Expect it and plan for extra space or automatic resizing where possible.
5. Think mobile –After all, it’s the future! And, in some circles, it’s the primary way business is conducted today. Many writers have already started adapting their style to the way people consume content on the mobile web — in bite-sized chunks.