'Localization-Ready' Documentation Can Lay the Groundwork to Build Revenue
As companies continue to focus on the global marketplace to build revenues, localization is becoming a requirement of business. Executives are well aware of the importance of localizing their product strategies to new markets if they are going to succeed in winning over new customers.
In fact, business managers who view localization as a costly and time-consuming activity should take note - localization can pay big dividends. Industry research shows that companies spend an average of 0.5% ‐ 2.5% of gross revenues on localization, often contributing to more than half of their total income.1
Nonetheless, there are ways to control costs and gain efficiencies in localizing marketing campaigns, product packaging, literature, instruction manuals, staff handbooks and other documentation. Following are some practical recommendations to ensure that projects come in on time and on budget.
Build Localization Practices into Content Creation
The first step is to incorporate basic localization practices into the writing process when source content is being created. To achieve this, consider the following:
- Keep the source copy free from cultural idioms and conventions that won’t translate into other languages. For example, the phrase “straight from the horse’s mouth” simply won’t make sense if translated and will require extra time to make the content readable in other cultures.
- If acronyms or abbreviations are used, include the full written form of the abbreviation the first time it is introduced to eliminate potential confusion and/or the need for extra research. Some acronyms are different in other languages. For example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO in English) translates as OTAN (Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte) in Spanish.2
- Include a glossary to help clarify more technical, specialist or unusual terms.
- Include conversion charts for units of measure.
- Provide a list of content that should NOT be translated.
Technology can also facilitate localization-ready content. For example, some translation management solutions make it possible to build a library of localized content that can be reused on subsequent projects to ensure accuracy and further reduce time and costs.
Design Your Layouts with Localization in Mind
Text expansion is also a concern when creating localization-ready materials. Layouts should be designed to allow for text expansion that commonly occurs between different languages. For example, when English is translated into other languages, the space the text takes up can expand by as much as 35 percent. The layout should include sufficient space to accommodate for such translation conversions.
Tables and charts can also present issues. If the layout includes a large number of tables containing text, it may take considerable time to extract and re-make the tables to accommodate the translated text. This issue also applies to diagrams. Text is often squeezed into diagrams to label sections or components. However, once translated, the text will likely no longer fit.
The best practice is to limit the usage of tables and diagrams in materials that are going to be localized. They should be used as a means to purposefully add information, rather than as a design feature.
Choose a Proven Localization Partner
Choosing the right localization partner is critical in creating an effective localization-ready documentation process. The most efficient providers follow an integrated model in which translation, testing, engineering and project management staff all work in a shared physical and technology environment. This enables them to more easily collaborate and exchange information.
It is also vital to choose a partner who fosters a learning environment for the staff to grow their skills as localization requirements and processes change. This ensures that best practices are constantly reinforced and applied to your projects.
Finally, it is critical to choose a partner who will apprise you on the progress of your projects at all times. Ideally, they should provide a client web portal that offers real-time status reporting and two-way communications between you and the project team.
By approaching localization with these recommendations in mind, your organization can make significant progress in creating localization-ready documentation that will support revenue growth.
1 Donald A. DePalma. "Beggars at the Globalization Banquet." Common Sense Advisory. November 01, 2002. http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/
2 Ugur Akinci, “Technical Writing - How to Generate Localization-Ready Technical Copy With Pre-Production Guidelines,” EzineArticles.com/1807890
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