When most leaders think about the scalability of their product, they’re thinking about it from a monolingual point of view. They generally consider increasing traffic or leads, and stress-testing the system to see if they can support it, but they usually fail to consider the effects of adding other languages—and if internationalization development is on the radar, complete multilingual support is vital. Making a system linguistically scalable is an entirely different process than traditional scaling.
Internationalization development involves establishing a scale for a global audience. By creating a foundation that supports translation across all assets—not just the product—languages can be added on as needed to grow the market share exponentially.
Overlooked Components in Internationalization Development
Even the most prominent companies that you expect to be most prepared can fall victim to poor global planning. A major tech client that we once worked with came to us with a product that they knew would be globally relevant and useful, but was designed with only an English audience in mind. When they decided to launch into 13 new language markets, their content management system (CMS) migration became a nightmare.
One major aspect they overlooked was search engine optimization (SEO). The company spent years developing an SEO strategy for their English market and building that into their WordPress run platform. However, when it came time to translate those pages, they decided to use a proxy to generate them. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t recognize proxies as pages and as a result, all that SEO traction they built in English didn’t transfer to the new markets.
Had the company considered the potential of globalization from the beginning, they may have made some different decisions. One might have been a reconsideration of the CMS they chose. That’s not to say WordPress is inadequate—there’s a reason it powers 38% of all websites. But it may not have been their first choice if they thought globally. There are no out-of-the-box functions for managing multilingual websites on WordPress, unlike other more complicated and expensive systems, such as Adobe Experience Manager. If the company thought about the limitations of WordPress early on and planned to overcome them, they wouldn’t be looking at a multimillion-dollar migration project.
The CMS and SEO aren’t the only considerations in content management during internationalization—you’ll need to transfer an entire content ecosystem. That includes not just the product and the SEO program, but other materials, such as:
- Customer service platforms
- Marketing collateral
- Supporting documentation
- Legal disclosures
- Product guides and instructions
You must also consider technical parts of development, like allowing for the expansion of text depending on language-based variations, as well as bidirectional features. Special characters, colors, and variables like time and currency markers will also require management through every language. Given this, it’s vital to begin any internationalization strategy with a strong foundation.
How Connectors and Translation Automation Differ and Affect Your Internationalization Strategy
If you had to design a 100-story residential building, you wouldn’t start at the penthouse and work your way down. Otherwise, you’d have to keep redesigning the lower floors to hold the increasing weight and ensure a stable structure. Instead, you’d start with designing the foundation. From there, you could add new stories without having to go back and revise the previous components. This concept holds true when discussing internationalization development. You don’t want to migrate your content to a new language when you have 13,000 pages to manage; you want to start migrating during the early stages when you only have a couple hundred. That means making the right choices from the start.
One key concept that’s important to understand is the difference between connectors and translation automation. Often, leaders put way too much confidence in connectors to translate for them when the need arises. That’s the common tactic with WordPress and its WPML multilingual plugin. However, all the connector does is act as the pipe from one system to another—you’re still going to have to control all the manual steps to ensure the flow of content.
Automation is different—you make a single update in English and it triggers tasks in all other selected languages. The projects are assigned to linguists based on their success metrics and are then forwarded for review and QA automatically upon completion. Once that’s finished, updated content travels to its final destination. This sequence of tasks is executed with minimal manual intervention. With automation, you gain the ability to make changes rapidly while reducing the bureaucratic hassle of mundane project management steps.
The Importance of Beginning with a Strong Foundation
Ensuring your internationalization development is set from an early stage is as easy as choosing the right localization management platform. With it, you can transparently monitor all translation of your product and its accompanying materials. Through the use of a corporate lexicon and translation memory, you can also ensure your content will be SEO ready in new markets. Approaching internationalization development with a localization-friendly platform keeps you organized whether you’re adding your first foreign language or your twentieth. It automates the flow from one program to another by establishing a strong foundation from the beginning.
Bureau Works offers a robust platform that can help you effectively manage your internationalization development, allowing for a seamless entry into global markets. For more details, contact our team.