Certifying Localization Readiness to Enhance Micro Experiences

Mar 29, 2017

Article ImageDigital globalization may sound like a fairly obvious process to content leaders and owners who may therefore define it in a too narrow fashion, i.e. pushing content out to the world. Like for other business processes they should mind the gap between quick assumptions and fast execution. Digital globalization entails the deployment of content across multiple markets and a multitude of steps. So it must be managed holistically and precisely to be truly efficient.

Focusing on what makes delivering on localization effectiveness happen or not is equally important. Ensuring that global content is designed and developed with international customers in mind -- way before it gets localized -- is the actual foundation of success and performance for that matter. Testing and certifying this level of readiness does not only confirm whether content creators have stayed on the right track. It also enables content owners and localization leaders to prevent and solve issues that may come up during localization efforts and spoil local experiences subsequently. In the digital age localization readiness has become more challenging as content has multiple dimensions, is more fragmented and is very sensitive to evolving practices and ecosystems. From that perspective seamless digital experiences are made up of a series of moments of delight, relevance, and action. Welcome to micro experiences!

First, let’s consider content certification end-to-end for localization readiness. In other words it has to work flawlessly from a functional, linguistic, and design perspective. That is how local customers see and consume it within binge-watching and binge-buying environments. From content creation trenches it implies:

  • Adopting global content standards from the outset: Whether it is for encoding multilingual content on a digital platform or for designing application content to meet cultural and functional requirements, standards must enhance localization readiness. Most of these standards apply to any digital content and reflect technical and human interaction. Most importantly these best practices help handle content as more than just words and connect users to it. Not only do standards provide guidance on the language – in its broad meaning – but also cover how content should look and work.
  • Identifying content intensive and experience sensitive areas of content: In some cases it may be necessary to prioritize content in digital properties where localization readiness has to be certified first and foremost. This balance may be established by combining most critical business objectives with the hottest content in terms of usability and findability. It can then be translated into heavy or light testing, trade offs, and phases if need be. Obviously detailing local customer journeys at early stages of content design and aligning them with content experience chains help calibrate localization readiness too.
  • Defining clear indicators to capture and measure localization readiness: Such indicators must mirror how global content passes readiness tests and why it does or does not meet expectations. Here too it is essential to juggle with functional, linguistic, and design drivers. For tricky issues indicators should be detailed with information like the context of use and reference materials like demos or screen captures.
  • Going through a dry run to gauge localization readiness of content before it reaches the localization stage: Pseudo-localizing content is probably the less demanding and most rewarding task to perform when certifying content. It does not take much to schedule and complete it whereas it may reveal a lot on where readiness is missing and why localization may fail. Leveraging the most recent progress of machine learning and machine translation speeds it up like never before, provided that it is used only for what it really is. “Pseudo” speaks for itself and content quality is not at stake here. It just enables content creators and localization leaders to simulate or preview what local experiences are likely to be, not to deliver any final certification.

Second, let’s go beyond what glitches and defects localization dry runs may reveal and address the real root cause(s). Great digital content is about how it looks as much as it is how it works. A functional bug may be caused by a linguistic or design issue. For example, if a localized error message is not displayed properly it may be flagged as a linguistic defect. However, as it may be due to contracted or expanded text evidencing a lack of local language support this linguistic defect may become a functional defect and require a technical action. Otherwise at best it does not fix anything as expected and at worst it may lead to additional defects. Clipping issues in localized applications are typical and painful examples of misleading bugs. When local customers cannot access a menu or a button because of localized content hiding or truncating it the solution may lie in finding localized content alternatives rather than changing the feature right away. When so called functional defects turn into linguistic bugs, developers need to team up with linguists to get issues solved. Localization remains an inclusive process.

Ultimately certifying localization readiness for digital globalization comes down to ensuring that each micro experience can be localized accurately. Digital experiences rely on a number of micro experiences like walls are made of bricks.

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