A Few Must Have Ingredients for Developing a Global Content Strategy
Simply stated, content globalization occurs when we present our content to groups of people who don't read or speak the language that our content is written in. This can happen in our own country even, considering the large groups of immigrant communities. For instance, a website can develop a globalized content strategy for use solely in the USA, reaching out to the large Spanish speaking population.
Google Translate is NOT Globalization
Hopefully we’re all on the up and up here but let's just get that out of the way. Never consider this as a stop gap solution for translating your content. It doesn't work and will only infuriate the audience that you are attempting to nurture. Okay, now we can get into a few key ingredients for your globalization strategy.
Content and Ownership Audit
This is step one! Don’t even think about translating content until your entire content ownership and delivery workflow is on paper. In larger organizations content editing and translation can easily resemble the Wild West with each regional department handling their own content development and translation, all with varying degrees of quality control and validation. Not only will this likely result in a sub-standard translation, it can also affect the company’s brand and bottom line with low content standards, wasted manual resources and can result in chaos on the content management front.
Locate all of the content editors across the organization and interview them for processes related to translation:
- What languages are they targeting?
- What is the complete approval path of the content from source to translation?
- Who does the translation?
- Is there a vendor or vendors involved in the translation process?
- Where, regionally, is the content being developed and translated?
- Is there a standard language in use, or does the source content language change regionally?
Only when the questions above are answered and documented will a logical content globalization strategy begin to take shape. Get in front of the translation stampede and add some structure and compliance to the process. Everyone will thank you in the end, most notably the target audience.
Simplify the Pivot Content
When planning the translation process, a default or source language is established. This is often referred to as the 'Pivot Language'. This will be the source reference for translating to all of the chosen languages; a centralized repository so to speak. In order to pave the way for a smooth translation process, this source content needs to be relatively simple and easy to understand. When developing the source text, consider these options:
- Reduce sentence length and complexity of the content which could lead to translation tools struggling to maintain grammatical accuracy.
- Reduce word count as you would a blog post that contains a bunch of fluff.
- Eliminate the use of idioms, jargon or other ‘slang’ type words and phrases. They will translate into meaningless drivel.
Translation Memory Management (TM or TMM)
What? Yep, Translation Memory (TM). Our internet source for absolute truths, Wikipedia, mentions that over 82% of the language professionals surveyed in ’06 were using a TM system of some kind. All translation vendors will use one.
How this fits into Content Management is how the CMS vendors are pushing out their Globalization features. Without an integrated TM, you’re translating the same content over and over again. A TM allows your system to ‘learn’ from each new translation and develop a comprehensive database of translation targets and options. You can see how this will start to save time in a big way. Gradually the manual translation time will drop off as the TM learns more and more content segments and accurately begins to assist in more of the automated processes.
Translation memory management applications are very complex pieces of code and work extremely hard to develop their translation ‘intelligence’. Each new content segment that is translated is stored and tagged for recall during a future translation. Truth be told, it’s actually magic.
This is quite a beast of a topic unto itself, and equally as important as the translation. Depending on the locale of the target, many contextual and cultural considerations may be necessary. Further, the CMS may not be smart enough to calculate the internal links and point them to the regional content so you’ll need to audit for these links. Pages such as Help, FAQ, Contact, Careers, etc., will all fall under the location silo of each region.
Localizing content takes a much more human approach to the end result. Political, cultural, regulatory and even religious implications are areas of concern when appropriately localizing content. One would not want to inadvertently aggravate or insult a segment of your audience based on simple ignorance of local customs or traditions.
I’m purposely being incredibly vague in this section, partly because it really deserves its own complete post. I’ll see who I can get to do that (*looks at show guests). Suffice to say that the localization aspects reach well beyond simple translation.
In a Word
In a word; be ‘cautious’ when committing to WCM Systems based on their claims of Out of the Box Globalization capabilities. As I tried to explain, there is much more than simply automating a translation process to delivering truly regionalized content to a new visitor segment. This is a great post that describes a few serious questions to ask when researching vendors for this reason. Take your time and bring along someone who natively speaks Spanish or German or French, etc. And if the vendor explains that they use 3rd party integration, don’t be alarmed. This just shows their commitment to partnering with a true expert in this area. They can concentrate on perfecting their CMS and leave the translation/localization requirements to a tried and true, dedicated firm.
Register for CMS-Connected – Content Globalization and WCM
Listen to the ‘real’ experts in this field this Friday as they discuss all things globalization. Register Here. And don’t forget to stop by our Linkedin hangout.