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E.g., 06/28/2020

Think 'Localization' Before Content is Even Created

By: Lauren Broderick, Marketing Manager - translate plus

22 June 2016

"Content is king" is the phrase of our era. The concept was promoted by Bill Gates back in 1996, and 20 years on (yes, 20 years!) it looks like he was right. Content rules the online world and, to a certain extent, the localization industry. 

As LSPs and corporate localization teams, content is our life. Whether it's website content, legal documents, videos, reports, brochures – it's written into our job DNA. This content generally comes to us because it needs to be localized. When we talk about content localization, we typically work with the finished piece of content, localize it, and then move onto the next task. However, it can be very helpful to consider localization before content is ever written and to build this thought process into the planning stages of any content strategy.

Here at translate plus we have consistently noted that the localization process is streamlined if localization is considered before content is created. It not only helps to produce a better quality of content for each target audience, but also enhances the workflow and avoids a number of challenges further down the line. You've likely experienced a similar phenomenon.

So how can we encourage our clients and the internal teams we work with to jump on board with the idea of optimizing content for localization at its inception? Here are some ideas that convey the importance of adding in localization considerations early on in the content development process.

Your content strategy might need localizing too

The most important word in any content strategy is audience, and that just happens to be the most important word in localization too. You can’t create a content strategy that gets results without knowing the audiences you’re trying to connect with – and that starts with knowing who those audiences are.

localisation audience

Defining these audiences will determine the best approach to localizing content, the constraints you have to work with, and the targets you need to hit. Each of these audiences will also come with their own cultural background, which raises a number of points to consider:

  • The topics most important to them could be different;
  • Your approach to steering them along the buying process can vary;
  • You need to consider the laws and censorship within any given country;
  • Outside the law, you need to consider – on a cultural and more personal level – how your topics, subject matter, visuals and everything else will be accepted by each audience.

All of the points above (and there are plenty more) can be more difficult to work in once the content is already created. When you plan your content strategy for each target market, you want to know which pieces of content can work internationally and where you may need to create separate content, specifically tailored to the individual needs of each market.

Technical factors can cause problems later on

As soon as you translate or localize to another language your content changes length. This can affect the layout of your website (or especially an app interface), which is something you want to anticipate. Take the navigation menu on your website, for example, a longer word could break your entire navigation by being too long for one of its containers.

It’s not just the visual size of letters and words that comes into play here either, but also the number of pixels they require. A display with a much smaller pixel density will display these characters larger than a higher resolution screen would.

There are many other technical factors to think about too; those BuzzFeed-style image lists could take a lifetime to load on a 3G mobile connection in South America, for example. It is important to remember that technical factors not only impact how you localize content, but also the kind of content you can produce in the first place.

Producing cost-effective visuals

The modern web is a visual one and, in case you hadn’t noticed, video is leading the way in web content. The trouble is that producing images, graphics, videos, and other visuals is more expensive than writing a page of content or a blog. You need a cost-effective process to create these visuals for multiple markets, and that takes extra planning once again.

It’s great if you have the budget to shoot separate videos for each market, but that’s normally reserved for the corporate giants. Instead, you’ll want to make one video, or most of it, accessible to each audience and then localize it from there.

Avoid any cultural faux pas and the main bulk of your video can act as a sort of template to build on. You can add voiceovers or subtitles for different languages and shoot additional footage for each specific audience, to give it that native feel. As long as localization is thought about from the moment you start planning your video, you’ll be able to cut down on the production time and the overall cost, while making the localization process easier while you’re at it.

So there you have it, three working examples of why it pays to think about localization before content creation. This isn’t always possible when there is existing content to localize, and that’s fine. However, with international audiences on the agenda, it helps to start encouraging clients we receive content from to start thinking about localization when they brainstorm their content strategy.

Lauren Broderick

Lauren is the Marketing Manager at translate plus.