If you’re an international brand, most of your content is produced to satisfy multilingual audiences. Localizing for multiple target languages can be not easy and if you don’t start with localization in mind, you are making the process more costly, and complicated.
At the planning stage, one important step is to develop your source documents to be localization-ready. These include the source files from websites, marketing collateral, product documentation, and customer support. Whenever content is written and designed, you should always ask if it will be possible to translate and localize.
Creating localization-friendly source documents brings several great benefits that far outweigh the drawbacks:
What happens if source materials have words that have multiple meanings or references that are culturally specific? It takes more time to translate and localize. Some translations may not be correct. As a result, you will end up doing several times of reviews and corrections.
Writing and designing content that fits localizing makes less effort required during the review stage. Sure, this approach allows your translators, reviewers, and project managers to be less under workload pressure. You can complete documents faster and reduce your review management costs.
Localization utilizes effectively computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, such as translation memories and machine translation engines. These tools enable you to use the same stored translations for words, terms, and phrases. Besides, a glossary of terms is another tool to help you remain consistent in style, language, etc.
Using simplified, internationalized English from the start leads to more consistent translations. Every time the same words appear, they will be translated the same way. You can make use of the benefits of these translation tools. And you also cut down on manual translation, which reduces your costs considerably.
English text is normally condensed. However, it appears to be a longer text when translated. For example, in Italian, German, and Russian, the translated text is finalized with text expansion. If your source document is complex at the beginning of the process, your translated content takes up more space in your layout. Paragraphs look cramped, documents have more pages, and web text extends beyond graphical elements like buttons, menus, and tables.
Making your source content localization-friendly prevents all these hidden problems. Keeping words and sentences short and simple allows for greater flexibility in design and layout.
You may be concerned that simplifying your source content will limit your creativity and obscure your brand voice. If you take out all idioms, humor, synonyms, and cultural references, you may have content that’s not dificult to translate, however, it creates no emotional effect.
Try imagining: You simplify first to make localization easier later. However, this doesn’t hinder you from “localizing” for your home market. Using the simplified, internationalized English version of your content, you can then introduce more creative flourish. Add all the words, phrases, and images that are consistent with your brand tone, personality, and style. This is how you appeal to your audience with your content. Then approach this same way to all your target locales.
Have you ever heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” or GIGO? It is the concept that flawed, or nonsense (garbage) input data produces nonsense output, which originated from the software industry. It’s also especially true with translations. Localized content is only as good as the source content. Machine translation (MT) is a big part of the process, making wide-scale translation automated, fast, and efficient.
MT engines and AI-enabled applications, such as chatbots, require multilingual training data sets. However, low-quality written source negatively affects the quality of MT data. This results in a longer review cycle, increasing costs and decreasing turnaround times. That is why creating content with localization in mind leads to more accurate MT output and higher-quality translations.
Involving your Language Service Provider (LSP) at the planning stage is crucial to ensuring that your source content is localization-ready. LSP teams have conducted with volumes of multilingual content for years and so it’s helpful to advise how to optimize source content. Working together, sharing your business and localization objectives, providing access to brand guidelines and glossaries, and co-developing content will lead to great content, whatever the language it is.
Read more: How is language connected to culture?