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Localisation and Globalisation: Going Beyond Translation

In a previous post here on Econotimes, we considered options for translating content to additional languages to expose your valuable content to new foreign markets. At the end of the post we touched on another trend and associated tools that go well beyond the linguistic aspects of translation. In this article, we focus on localisation and the process of globalising software and content. What does it mean? Who needs it? How do you do it? Which are the best tools? Let us help you go global smarter and faster.

The Basics of Localising and Globalising

Each website that aspires to reach foreign language markets needs to undergo a process known as website localisation. This is not the same a website translation, which refers to the linguistic aspects of content only. Localisation (spelled “localization” in the US) means much more. Sure, it’s possible to build an entirely different website, and this is an option that some web publishers take. In some cases, each “local” version of the site, written in a different language or language version, has its own content management system and its own editorial and graphical team.

Another shortcut to globalising (globalizing, for you Yanks) is to search for an agency which provides localisation services. There are a handful in the top tier and you should expect to receive a free quotation which will require some interaction with your candidate agency. Usually you will just need to provide a link to your current source-language website and perhaps answer some standard questions about your project. Working with freelancers is less expensive but involves more work for you.

You may pay a premium for working with an agency that specialises in professional translation and localisation, but you will benefit from its experience and the expertise of working with a team of linguists with expertise in multiple language-pairs – make sure before you sign the contract that you are working with professionals in your particular industry and your specific language pair. Some agencies allow you to work directly with the translator, while others have you communicate with an account manager who serves as an intermediary between you and the linguist or, as we will discuss below, the technical team that will actually implement and automate the localisation.

Globalising a News Website

For example, consider the example of the website you are reading right now. There’s a need to deal with content about the global economy, financial market news, economic research and economic commentary, digital currency news, world news, breaking news and much more. If the site wants to make readers in a different language or country feel comfortable, and at home, it needs to convert currencies, cover different stories, list different stock and commodity exchanges. And it needs to understand the local politics and local cultural sensitivities. It’s not something you can learn overnight.

News sites are characterized by dynamic content. Each day there’s a different batch of stories. There’s a constant need for translation, so that means you need an automated solution for localising and translating just to keep up with the news.

Globalisation for Business

Similar considerations apply to a business website. Is your business benefitting from globalisation? If your website is written in only one language, probably not. Linguistic translation is not the only aspect of globalisation but it takes the lion’s share of the time and money for the effort. The good news is that most businesses do not have the burden of new content flowing in every hour. Business translation is usually simpler than news translation. To know more about the benefits of globalisation, click here.

On the other hand, business often have a need to reach more markets than some newspapers. After all, many news sites do not aspire to reaching all foreign language markets, just a handful that are relevant to their subject matter. You will need to keep in mind the differences in currency and measurement in each of your target national markets, and you will need to have a developer recognize the user’s location and serve up the correct national site. But this is not rocket science, and in some cases you can do this without the expense of dedicated software for this purpose

Localisation/Globalisation Software

There is a robust category of software that is dedicated to globalizing software and other content, although it is more often categorized as localisation. Bear in mind that globalisation really means integrating the various localised versions of your content, so the terms belong to the same family and are often used interchangeably. Not every business user needs to go down this rabbit hole. Often it makes more sense to hand off the project to a specialised professional agency that does this as their main business. It’s not usually something you want to have your people learn internally. The headaches and complications are too great. But there are a few exceptions to this rule:

  1. Software and App Companies: If your company is a software developer or an app maker, localisation software becomes a core part of your product. The investment in knowing how to globalise properly is one well worth making. Otherwise you create dependencies on external resources that it is just too risky.
  2. Ecommerce Companies: If your company does electronic commerce, and has global aspirations, and has a proprietary website for doing so, then it’s probably worth your while to use localisation software. If you are using a standard shopping platform like Magento or Shopify, you probably can get off easy because these popular platform have localisation tools – their own or a third party solution – tailored to your software. So it will make sense to run with that. Check their marketplace options.
  3. Localisation Agencies: If you globalise websites and software as your core business, you are another target customer for localisation software companies.

For those who really need it, then, here are some reputable, top-reviewed options:

  1. PhraseApp is a software localisation management platform for websites, software, spreadsheet content, and mobile applications. It’s well integrated with Github version control, supporting most translation libraries and file formats.
  2. Lokalise is a localisation and translation management tool for mobile apps, websites, games, IoT and software in general. It’s well suited for news operations, facilitating real-time changes to copy.
  3. Transifex is a kind of Github for localisation, exceling at version-controlled process automation, translation and team collaboration from apps to subtitles to documentation. It’s especially well tuned for ecommerce and media projects.

The Bottom Line: If you are a software developer, international ecommerce site, or global media or news brand, consider one of these options. If not, save yourself headaches and turn to a professional localisation agency.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

By Sheena Jordan
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