By Lauren Lee

ACA Recognizes the Importance of Multilingual Support for Patients

One of the most unsuspecting industries is leading the way for a new customer service trend. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care industry is redefining how to serve customers, no matter what language they speak.

The reforms put forward by the ACA, also known as Obamacare, require health care providers to provide Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients with access to the information and materials they need to make informed decisions related to health care. This includes making sure payment systems, programs, and documents are properly translated, and that LEP patients have access to interpreters when they receive health care services. These requirements place the health care industry ahead of many others when it comes to reaching customers with multilingual content.

General Language Requirements

Within the Affordable Care Act, there are several provisions that deal exclusively with providing LEP patients with the linguistic access they need, specifically for written documents and oral communications.

Written Documents

The ACA requires that each provider supply all patients with a translated Uniform Glossary and Summary of Benefits Coverage (SBC). In regards to the SBC, the employer and the insurer are responsible for distributing these documents under fully-insured plans. For self-insured plans, the employer is the only one responsible for compiling and handing out these forms. Although it is not explicitly stated, the ACA implies that documents like appeal notices and provision of claims should also be translated to provide comprehensive health care for patients.

Standardized documents like intake forms may also be translated, and providers may benefit from adding translated taglines to the top of commonly used documents, ensuring LEP patients understand the important details of those documents. Health care providers and insurers should also plan to translate their website and digital content into the languages most commonly spoken and read by their patients.

Oral Communication

Individuals with limited English proficiency must be granted access to bilingual staff members or interpreters at each point in the health care process, from registration at a medical facility to financial counseling. This high level of language support ensures that all patients have access to information to confidently make important medical decisions regarding their care.

Selecting Languages for Translation

With more than 6,000 distinct languages spoken around the world, it would be cost prohibitive for providers to translate documents into every language, so the ACA has created guidelines to assist providers in determining which languages they must provide to their patient communities. According to these guidelines, documents should be translated for every LEP patient group that exceeds a minimum of 1,000 people or 10 percent of the health care provider’s population in a specific county. In the situation where 10 percent of the population is less than 50 individuals, it’s not necessary to translate written documents. Instead, translation can be done orally, as needed.

The ACA guidelines also recommend adding a tagline to the top of important health care documents, translating only the headline as opposed to the entire document when cost, resources, or other limitations prevent translations of entire documents. In addition, LEP patients should be provided with a notification that language interpretation is available for free.

Sections of the ACA Relating to Language

Some of the features of the ACA that relate to interpretation and translation include:

  • Section 15574 About Nondiscrimination – According to this section, federal civil rights laws and Title VI don’t allow discrimination due to national origin, color or race – which includes language discrimination. This applies to any program that receives federal funds and any health care exchange.
  • Section 1001 About Notice Requirements – Every health plan and insurance company must create an appeals process for dealing with coverage claims and decisions. The plan or issuer must give enrolled members notices in a language they can understand. Plans with 100 enrolled patients or fewer only need to translate notices if 25 percent of the enrolled patients are primarily literate in another language. Meanwhile, plans with 500 enrolled members need to be translated if 10 percent of the members speak the same, non-English language.
  • Section 1331 About Plain Language Requirements – This section requires each health exchange that wants to be certified under the Affordable Care Act to submit information such as their financial disclosures, denied claims, rating practices, payment policies, cost sharing and other data. Any information provided must be written in plain language that can be understood by patients with limited English proficiency.
  • Section 1001 About Coverage and Benefits – Anyone seeking health care coverage must be provided with a summary of the potential benefits and coverage requirements. This must be written in language that can be understood by the average person, and it may need to be in another format for patients with limited English proficiency. The goal of this provision is to ensure that consumers understand their plans and adequately compare options.

How do Health Care Providers and Insurers Tackle the Requirements?

Although adhering to the multilingual language requirements of the Affordable Care Act may be complex, they ensure that the majority of patients understand their care options and have access to quality care. This improved understanding may help to reduce longer term costs of care, helping to offset the investment providers will need to make in the short run. It’s also important to note that smaller insurance plans and areas with limited LEP populations will be exempt from some of these provisions. An early step for many providers may be to begin working with translation agency or language service provider to identify the right languages and assemble the resources for translation.

For more information about translating digital health care content including websites and mobile apps, reach out to a team member from Transifex and request a quick 30 minute demo. Transifex is a localization automation platform that enables health care providers to raise their standard of care by connecting patients with the information they need to make informed medical decisions.

Are you Providing Enough Support to your Customers?

The holiday season is upon us, which got us to thinking… The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but for many shoppers, the holidays can be a frustrating experience filled with traffic jams, crowded stores, and long lines at checkout. To make matters worse, Salesforce sponsored a study that found that holiday expectations have grown so low among Americans, 42% expect customer service to plummet over the holidays, too.

Knowing that nearly half of shoppers expect poor customer service, we thought we’d offer insights into the customer service process – like how to define your customer service strategy and how to improve it – not just for the holiday season, but for all 365 days of the year. At the end of the day, it’s about making your customers happy, right?

Defining your customer service strategy

One of the biggest customer support mistakes is not including your customer service strategy in your go-to-market plan. Companies of all sizes, from early-stage startups to multi-million dollar enterprises, find themselves guilty of waiting until support tickets and emails come pouring in before creating a dedicated action plan. If you don’t have a customer service strategy in place, start by:

  1. Making sure your strategy revolves around your core principles and values
  2. Figuring out the type of experience you want customers to have
  3. Determining how to best communicate brand through support interactions

Defining a strategy specific to your company can help you create one that is helpful to customers, while still being a great fit for your company and support team.

Creating an awesome support team

With any strategy, you need the right people to carry it out, meaning you have to hire smart. When companies hire for most positions, they look at experience, skills, and qualifications. Conversely, with a customer service position, you need to look for people with that “special something.” You can’t teach someone how to care about customers; that’s a trait that’s often intrinsic to the person. Seek individuals who believe helping others is rewarding, and you’ll often be rewarded with an exceptional support team that goes above and beyond their job description.

This leads us to the next logical question. How will a customer service team go above and beyond? Great customer service teams don’t just help customers in the proverbial “red,” but strive to support customers that are already happy. These customers are your company’s evangelists and oftentimes your biggest supporters, so it’s important not to forget about them. Shift the way you think about customer service, and try to make all your customers happy, whether they asked for help or not.

Debunking customer service misconceptions

Now that we’ve outlined how to create a great foundation for how to serve your customers, we’ve got to tackle common customer service misconceptions.

  1. Customer support is a cost center. Many companies look at their support centers as a cost; a place where employees are paid to help customers, often reversing costly mistakes or offering a discount to make up for an error – whether it’s the company’s fault or not. The companies that are most successful, however, flip this concept and view support as a revenue center. Companies that embrace the concept that each support ticket should be an opportunity to create a great experience (not just mitigate bad experiences) often succeed and become trusted brands among their community and customers.
  2. Customer service must be done in-person. Yes, historically, customer service is an in-person interaction between a store representative and a client. However, in today’s technology-driven society, customer service experiences have moved online. Aaron Franklin, Product Manager at Pinterest, shared that “In many cases, users are now getting help instantly with experiences that exceed those offered by human beings.” Providing a way for customers to serve themselves online with a comprehensive help desk allows users to find the answers they need, when they need them, which ultimately means satisfied customers.

How you can improve your customer service?

Whether you’re just starting your business or you’re an industry veteran, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to how you serve your customers. Check out these tips for how to create an even better experience for anyone who’s interested in your product.

Make data your best friend

Todd Park, formerly the second Chief Technology Officer of the United States, said, “Data by itself is useless. Data is only useful if you apply it.” And while this seems like a basic concept, it’s one that’s overlooked far too often.

Examining data, like website visits and how customers interact with your website, can help you understand where you need to make product and service changes. For instance, maybe one of your website’s pages has an extremely high bounce rate, indicating customers aren’t finding the answers they need. Knowing this, you can make changes to this specific page, maybe adding clarity, and then can train your staff to respond to these changes. By spending time with your data, you might be able to find a new service opportunity that you never would have thought of.

Stick to your word

As a customer, there’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a “live chat” option, and then not being able to chat with someone. It’s understandable that not all companies, especially those with limited budgets, can provide 24/7 support. But don’t tell customers you’re going to provide immediate assistance, and then ask them to leave a message. If you tell your customers you’re going to be there for them, be there. A simple workaround? State the hours that live chat is available or ask customers to leave a message and tell them you’ll be in contact within the next twenty-four hours. Sticking to your word is the first step in gaining customer trust.

Help customers help themselves

Zendesk, a customer service software and support ticket system, is a huge advocate of the “customer self-serve” model. The concept behind this model is to provide customers with all the resources they need to help themselves to the simple and frequently asked questions, which includes:

  1. Building a better FAQ. Your FAQ is the perfect place to implement the self-serve concept. Create an easy-to-navigate and robust FAQ, including step-by-step instructions, graphics, and videos, and provide customers with a way to find out more information about your product or service. Also be sure to think of your FAQ as a living, breathing document that requires regular updating. When a customer asks a great question that doesn’t come up often, add it to the FAQ!
  2. Make your website searchable. Adding a search bar to your website is an easy way to give customers a channel to find answers to their own questions. You can even think about adding an auto-populate feature where frequently typed queries pop up as the user starts typing, providing even more convenience.
  3. Create a separate social media presence. Many people turn to social media to ask other customers questions or to speak directly to the company. Creating a strong presence on various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) gives your customers another way to reach you. While these channels can only be successful if monitored regularly (they can have the opposite effect if inquiries go unanswered), when done correctly, they give your company a voice and show your community that your company cares and is working to provide the best possible experience for users.

Support ALL your customers

76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. So for companies who serve a global audience, it’s extremely important to provide customer service and support in that customer’s native language. Localizing your Zendesk help center is one of the best ways to do this, and with help from Transifex, it’s as simple as linking up your existing help center with our platform.

For more information about translating and localizing your help center, don’t hesitate to reach out to Transifex. We offer personalized demos, so schedule a time to chat and see how we can help you support customers all over the world!

Freaky Friday: 3 of the Scariest Translations in Celebration of Halloween

Embarrassing mistakes aren’t really a big deal when you make them in front of your friends, but make an embarrassing mistake in a global marketing campaign and you can bet everyone will be talking about it. In celebration of Halloween, Transifex wanted to share some embarrassing, and quite frankly, scary translations that were made by companies we all know and love.

1. Kentucky Fried Chicken

Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the few American fast food companies to succeed in China. KFC understood that the Chinese often viewed American fast-food chains as cheap establishments, serving mediocre western-style foods, and instead positioned themselves as part of the local community by serving items besides fried chicken. The Chinese KFC menu contains 50 items, in contrast with the 29 items commonly found on American menus, and includes traditional dishes beloved by the Chinese like egg tarts and congee (rice porridge) with pork.

KFCs in China also have larger kitchens to accommodate the larger menus, and the actual restaurant is typically larger than those in the US. Why? To allow customers space to linger. Unlike America where families grab a bucket of fried chicken to share around the table at home, KFC wanted to welcome extended families and groups to dine inside their establishment.

While KFC had been so thoughtful in how to localize their product and dining experience to suit the Chinese, it lacked the same thoughtfulness when translating one of their most popular catchphrases. According to reports, the popular saying “Finger-lickin’ good” was translated into Chinese, reading literally as, “Eat your fingers off.” Appetizing, right?

2. Pepsi

In the late 1950s, a demographic phenomenon known as the post-war baby boom would change the way Americans thought about daily activities and purchases. Knowing these individuals were part of a new generation that embraced a lifestyle with fewer rules, Pepsi crafted a campaign that captured this new, fun loving spirit. As more Americans identified with Pepsi’s campaign, the first Pepsi Generation was born.

Pepsi’s campaign was seen as innovative in the marketing world because it portrayed Americans in a new light. The campaign’s main message was simple – live life to the fullest. There is no set structure or ideology to live by. The popularity of the campaign helped Pepsi steadily gain market share over Coca Cola – a percentage that would continue to grow as they launched the Pepsi Challenge campaign in the 1980s.

That said, when it was time to expand into new global markets, it seemed like a no-brainer to bring the successful Pepsi Generation campaign to Taiwan. The fun loving nature of the campaign would be exciting and would represent the brand in a positive light. Unfortunately, the Pepsi slogan, “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into Taiwanese became, “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.” A bit creepy in general, but for us, a perfect scary Halloween story!

3. Jolly Green Giant

Most Americans recognize the Jolly Green Giant as a friendly, approachable fellow who will happily share his frozen and canned vegetables to hungry consumers. Yet, this isn’t always how the Green Giant was portrayed. Prior to adopting the name Green Giant Co., the company was known as the Minnesota Canning Co., and its mascot wasn’t jolly or even green. In fact, he looked more like a caveman, wearing a bearskin and carrying a large pea pod.

The Minnesota Canning Co.’s mascot made his first television debut in 1928, and to much surprise, wasn’t warmly accepted by consumers. Over the next few years, the famous Leo Burnett would step in and create the trademarked Jolly Green Giant we’re all familiar with. Burnett would make the Giant completely green, add a tunic made of leaves, and give the Giant a smile and friendly demeanor, which became a huge success in the United States.

After finding success in the United States, Green Giant Co. wanted to expand its offerings to other countries and identified canned sweet corn as the first product to test overseas because it wouldn’t require flavor changes across international markets. Jolly Green Giant quickly learned this wasn’t the case, as local influences played a much larger role than anticipated, and they also ran into a translation error in Middle Eastern countries. The “Jolly Green Giant” became the “intimidating green ogre” in Arabic, reversing the work that Burnett had accomplished in America in a few poorly translated words. At the very least, the ogre might scare Arabic-speaking children into eating their vegetables!

Scared Silly?

All of the above translation tales are just that, tales. None have been confirmed by any company reps and there’s no historical financial data showing a decrease in sales during the time of these poorly translated campaigns. But like all Halloween tales, they’ll leave you cautious, whether you believe in them or not.

5 Ways to Let Your Translation Glossary Work for You

Everyone has a set of favorite tools that makes their job easier, whether it’s something as simple as a smartphone calendar that integrates with email or a password manager that keeps all login information in one secure and convenient place. Each tool has its own purpose. Maybe it’s to automate a manual process, to enhance workflow, or to save money. No matter the reason, at the end of the day, you adopt tools that’ll make your life easier and set you up for success. Why should it be any different when it comes to your localization platform?

Within Transifex, there are a number of tools that make your life easier. Translation glossaries, in particular, ensure consistency and clarity in all your translated materials, creating a consistent user experience. And with studies showing that around 15% of all translation project costs arise from rework caused by inconsistent terminology, a translation glossary is an invaluable tool in supporting your localization efforts.

1. Structure your glossary with purpose.

A translation glossary is only helpful if it’s organized and easy to navigate. If your glossary includes thousands of terms, your translators are forced to constantly reference the glossary as they’re translating. It’s a nightmare! And it takes a lot of time.

To create a comprehensive glossary, review existing client-facing materials for frequently used terms. As you build your glossary, double check to make sure each term is only included once. For instance, we wouldn’t want our Transifex glossary to include the term and definition for “localization platform,” “localization,” and “platform.”

Structure your glossary to contain key terminology in your source language, as well as approved translations (for that terminology) in your target language. This helps translators by shortening the time needed to translate strings and frees up your time (or your reviewer’s time) because you don’t have to double check and see if commonly used terms are translated correctly.

2. Include terms specific to YOUR company or product.

One of the key purposes of a glossary is to enforce consistency in messaging and branding, providing current and future translators with a repository of properly translated company and industry-specific terms. For example, including your company’s name in your glossary ensures translators will never attempt to translate (and change) your brand name. This isn’t an issue for companies with distinct names like ours, but for companies that share their name with commonly used words like Apple, making a distinction between the brand name and the fruit ensures consistency across digital content in various languages.

It’s also important to make a clear distinction between important industry terms and terms that are simply helpful for the translator. Let’s use the fast food industry as an example. A majority of fast food chains serve burgers and fries, which may be considered industry terms, but not all restaurants will use a term like “Happy Meal” which is specific to McDonald’s. Including burgers and fries in your translation glossary might create unnecessary clutter, whereas including Happy Meal will ensure the product name is used correctly.

3. Make your glossary translator-centric.

It can be easy for companies to veer off track when creating their glossaries. Keep in mind that your glossary is a tool for your translators, so put yourself in their shoes when creating it. One of the best ways to do this is to give your translators context. Along with the term and definition, give an example of how the term is often used so they can have a better understanding of the word and when to include it in translations.

Additional information to include in your translation glossary includes the definition of the word, part of speech, and depending on what you’re translating, any language variance that may occur, such as differences between American English and British English. Taking the time to create a comprehensive tool for your translators may seem like an exhausting process, but will ultimately reduce the overall cost of translations over time as your translators become familiar with your business’ related terminology.

4. Conduct an in-country review.

Your translation glossary isn’t helpful if your source language terminology isn’t correctly translated into your target language. After you’ve compiled the first draft of your translation glossary, send it to translators who specialize in your target language. Spend some time reviewing any feedback or notes with your translators to see if nuances in language affect or change the meanings of certain translated words or phrases.

Along these lines, continually ask your translators for feedback. The best translation glossaries evolve as the business grows and new products and services – and associated marketing messages – change. You may need to add, change, or delete terms over time, but by involving your translators in this process, you increase your chances of retaining a valuable, high-quality, and helpful translation glossary.

5. Create a Translation Memory database.

Glossaries can also serve as the foundation for translation memory databases, another tool that decreases time spent in translations, increases productivity, and reduces cost. Translation Memory Databases house your company’s most commonly translated terms, so when translators come across a similar word or phrase as they’re translating, TM will make suggestions based on past, accurate translations. Learn more about Transifex’s Translation Memory and why more and more companies are incorporating this tool into their translation process.

Translation glossaries exist because even the best translators may have difficulty translating a key marketing concept or catch phrase. Give your translators a great resource, make their job easier, and enjoy the benefits over time. For more information about translation memory or the localization process in general, feel free to reach out to one of our team members – we look forward to hearing from you!

Clearing the User Trust Hurdle: A Country-Specific Approach

According to a Nielsen report that polled 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries, consumers are more trusting of online advertising than ever before. The study concluded that advertising trust goes beyond creating favorable views of a company in the eyes of its consumers. Effective advertising can increase a customer’s willingness to take action and make a purchase, meaning “trust and action often go hand in hand.”

The Trust Hurdle

Companies are taking steps in the right direction and acknowledging the advertising and selling opportunities in other countries, but complete localization isn’t achieved unless consumer purchasing behaviors are also taken into consideration. To better understand the global consumer, companies need to identify how consumers in different countries interact with websites, more specifically, whether they trust the company, brand messaging, and checkout process. Today, we’re sharing some of the top e-commerce markets and their associated trust hurdles.

Japan

When localizing your website for Japanese buyers, the bottom line is simple: your business will not succeed in Japan unless it earns the trust of Japanese consumers.

The Japanese are often recognized as luxury shoppers, yet a majority of the population is mistrustful of things sold on the internet, especially when items aren’t a native brand. Additionally, only about 1% of the population has enough foreign language skills to understand content on non-Japanese websites, most skipping content they can’t read.

Product or service quality is a primary desire among Japanese buyers (as it is in most countries), but gaining the trust of that buyer is equally if not more important. When localizing digital content into Japanese, pay careful attention to:

  1. Level of Customer Service – Common practice in Japan is to treat the customer with the utmost politeness and importance during any business-related transaction. This level of respect and high quality customer service must be displayed throughout your website in order for customers to trust your product and be compelled to buy. How do you create this ideal web experience for Japanese buyers? Read on to points 2 and 3.
  2. Tone of Voice – When speaking in Japanese, there are varying levels of politeness used depending on who is being spoken to. For instance, a child in middle school would speak to a peer with a different level of politeness than to a teacher. When content is displayed on a website, retailers are expected to speak to customers with extreme respect. This means that translating your content will likely require assistance from a native speaker, ensuring that the tone and language used is appropriate for the situation.
  3. Content Quality – The nuances of the Japanese language is what makes translating content so difficult. For instance, the Japanese rarely use “you” when speaking, and doing so on your website could be offensive or show a lack of thoughtfulness, ultimately indicating poor quality. The Japanese language also doesn’t have spaces between words. To present an aesthetically pleasing website that gains consumer trust, avoid line breaks. A user’s browser will automatically insert breaks where needed to create a localized online experience.

Russia

The size of the Russian market is huge, but so are the obstacles, leaving many companies unsure of whether or not to expand into Russia. As a population known to be distrustful of e-commerce websites, many retailers have left Russia out of their global expansion plans. Recent research, however, shows that new technologies are leading to increased internet adoption, making e-commerce a more popular buying channel. Russia’s e-commerce sector is predicted to grow 35% in the next few years, according to Morgan Stanley.

Russian buyers are much like their Western counterparts when it comes to making purchases online. They’re looking for quality products at affordable prices, and many are willing to do their research before they buy. But there are a few common buying trends in Russia, and any business that wants to gain the trust of Russian buyers needs to be familiar with them:

  1. Cash is King – It might sound crazy to some, but the Russian market is still driven by cash. Payments are rarely made with credit cards, and the few who have bank cards often withdraw their entire salaries in cash. So how are online goods purchased? Often through a cash delivery system where cash is exchanged for the product upon delivery or through prepay payment kiosks. After a purchase is made, the retailer provides the buyer with a unique payment code which is then taken to a nearby payment kiosk (they’re everywhere). The buyer enters the code and deposits the cash directly into the kiosk. E-money (Yandex.money) is also a popular way to finalize an online purchase. Exclude these payment options from your website and you’ll be sure to lose buyer trust and sales.
  2. Increased Smartphone Usage – Just like many other countries, more consumers are adopting smartphones and using them to make purchases online. While Russians may be wary of making credit card payments, there’s no research indicating they have a problem buying directly from their smartphone. In fact, just under 40% of orders are made through a smartphone, so it’s important that your website is responsive or mobile-friendly.
  3. Preference for Native-Language Websites – While the e-commerce market in Russia continues to grow, there is still a large portion of the population that does not make purchases online. Some might say it’s indifference to new technologies, but a recent study by the research group GfK found that 40% of those who don’t shop online admitted that language barrier was the main reason for continuing to patronize Russian brick-and-mortar stores. Not being able to read the content of the website made the customer uncomfortable, leading them to select a more trusting option in their native language.

Germany

Did you know 35% of Germans only browse websites that are in German? And according to research by the European Commission, another 40% would not communicate in a language other than German in a professional context, plus when it comes to complex translations (i.e. online banking), 81% of Germans wouldn’t use a website that wasn’t written in German.

While translating and localizing websites in German can gain consumer trust, security has been a long-time concern for online buyers. Fortunately, thanks to a number of security advancements over the past few years, “consumers in Germany have largely overcome their reluctance about buying online,” according to a report from eMarketer. Retailers can further create trust by providing:

  1. Creditability – Germans feel at ease when an online retailer displays seals of approval, a certification that indicates the shop is transparent and reputable. In a survey conducted by GfK, more than 60% say that a seal of approval in an online shop is “important” or “very important” and these seals must be from approved providers including Trusted Shops, Safer Shopping, and EHI.
  2. Resources – Another way to assure the uncertain German customer is to provide a wealth of information about the product and service offerings. Again, this helps to provide the buyer with transparency and simplifies the decision-making process. Customer reviews are also a great way to build trust about a product’s quality level.
  3. Payment – Similar to Russia, payment by credit card is less common than payment by invoice after delivery or through PayPal. Buyers are also skeptical of paying in advance, concerned how they’ll be refunded if they cancel their order. To overcome this obstacle, many German retailers insist first-time customers pay cash upon delivery. Buyer protection, like money-back guarantees, can also make customers feel more at ease when making an online purchase.

France

France is the sixth largest e-commerce market worldwide, with sales of more than 65 billion euros annually. The French are unique when it comes to making purchases online; France is one of the few countries where the multi-channel purchasing trend can be seen. In addition to reading reviews online and searching for additional product information before making a purchase, French shoppers see price as a primary motivation for purchasing online – a decision made only after visiting a brick-and-mortar store to see or touch the product in real life. As these price-sensitive buyers continue to make more online purchases, it’s important to gain their trust by offering:

  1. Secure Payments – French consumers were slow to become patrons of online retailers because they didn’t offer a secure way to pay. As in many other countries, concerns about security have lessened as technology has evolved over the past few years, but French consumers still want reassurance that their personal data will be safeguarded. Websites that show their commitment to protecting sensitive customer data by mentioning “secure payment via SSL” are seen as reputable and trusted retailers. Accepting CartesBancaires (a French credit card representing more than half the total credit card market share) and providing a visual representation like the company’s logo on the checkout page also helps to enhance customer trust.
  2. A Great Delivery Experience – Quick and affordable delivery is highly valued among French buyers, with 84% saying that a positive delivery experience can convince them to return to the same merchant for their next purchase as opposed to going to a competitor. Free delivery is the best option and when executed properly, can create trust and brand loyalty with a first-time French buyer.

China

According to eMarketer, China’s e-commerce industry will grow 42.1% in 2015 to $672 billion, easily making it the world’s largest e-commerce market. The potential for additional sales for non-Chinese companies is strikingly apparent and is driving more businesses to entering the traditionally complex marketplace.

A younger, more affluent generation is responsible for a majority of e-commerce growth in the country. They’re dominating the buying environment, willing to pay more for quality products. At the same time, other segments of the population remain somewhat wary of making online purchases. Localizing in China can be somewhat difficult and there are a few trust hurdles that must be addressed for success, including:

  1. Safety – Quality control is a huge problem in China. Just look at Mattel’s 2007 lead paint scandal which resulted in one of the largest toy recalls in history. Although nearly a decade has passed, Chinese consumers continually site product safety as one of their top concerns. And according to the China Market Research Group, these concerns arise from incidents that would never even cross the American consumer’s mind, like injecting watermelons with dirty water to make them heavier. Consumers also said they were willing to spend 20% more for ingestible products if they believed they were safe, showing that safety should be a key selling point when doing business in China.
  2. Online Advertisements – The Chinese generally find online advertisements, specifically those from the manufacturer or parent company, to be manipulative. In many cases, the highest level of trust comes from peer reviews or recommendations. Chinese customers are very active on social media outlets such as Youku, Kaixin, Tudou, Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo, and often share their product recommendations as well as positive and negative reviews via these platforms. To create a brand image that can be trusted by the Chinese, it’s important to create positive buzz and engagement on such platforms.
  3. Lifestyle – One of the top localization mistakes is not accounting for the target country’s lifestyle, and China is no exception. For example, clothing brand Nautica entered the Chinese market, displaying advertisements that used non-Chinese models. While this doesn’t seem like a major mistake, Chinese customers became concerned that Nautica clothing wouldn’t compliment their body types. Another thing to keep in mind in terms of lifestyle is that Chinese customers are adopting online platforms because they’re looking for more options. Websites that offer a wide range of products, even if they’re presented in a rather overwhelming format, appeal to the Chinese buyer and make them feel comfortable.

At the end of the day, localization will only be successful when time and effort is spent researching the local customs and buying behaviors of your target market. Although this process can be time consuming, the growing e-commerce industry on a global scale indicates great potential for retailers. To learn more about localization, download the Localization Benchmarks Report or reach out to a Transifex team member!

Crawlable AJAX Websites = International SEO Opportunities

Last week, Google made an official statement saying they are no longer recommending the AJAX crawling proposal made back in 2009. Google’s depreciation of their AJAX crawling scheme doesn’t only mean enhanced experiences for users, but transparency for Transifex users who are interested in sharing digital content with a global audience.

AJAX Basics

In the early 1990s, most websites were based completely on HTML pages. When a user took any action, such as clicking from one page to the next, all the content had to be re-sent and the entire page had to be reloaded from the server. This was the case even when a small portion of the page’s information had changed. As you might imagine, the process of constantly loading pages placed additional load on the server, used excessive bandwidth, and caused slow load times.

To help solve the issues associated with loading HTML-based pages, a group of web technologies, more commonly referred to as AJAX, can be used to implement a web application (using XmlHttpRequest objects) by communicating with a server in the background (through JavaScript). This means full page reloads can be avoided and the state of the current page, including behavior and display, aren’t affected.

Understanding AJAX Crawlability

AJAX-based websites are popular among users because they allow for quicker user interaction with the website, provide easier navigation, and create richer web pages that can handle several multipurpose applications and features. Traditionally, search engines aren’t able to access content on AJAX websites because most web crawlers don’t execute JavaScript code. This means a web application must provide an alternative way of accessing the content that would normally be retrieved with AJAX.

In the above mentioned 2009 proposal, Google shared how search engines would crawl AJAX files so web developers could make appropriate adjustments and ensure their content was displayed correctly and indexed.

Google Recognizes That Times Have Changed

In today’s web-based world, developers want to make their applications as responsive as possible in order to satisfy the end user. Achieving this goal, however, comes at a huge cost. Crawlers are unable to see any dynamically-created content. Because of this, Google says, “the most modern applications are also the ones that are often the least searchable.”

Understanding that times have changed, Google has released information stating that, “as long as you’re not blocking Googlebot from crawling your JavaScript or CSS files, we are generally able to render and understand your web pages like modern browsers.” In recent years, Google has taken a strong stance to provide the best possible results and experience to users, so it’s not surprising they’re changing some outdated AJAX recommendations. If you’d like to learn more about how AJAX-based websites are currently being crawled, click here.

Transifex Live, JavaScript, and SEO

Google’s announcement is great news for Transifex Live users! Although translated website content generated through Transifex Live was crawlable by search engines using AJAX crawling specifications, Google’s reversed stance makes it even easier for the translated versions of your website to be indexed.

When you include our JavaScript snippet (live.js) in your website’s pages for localization, Transifex Live can take your original content and render it in your target languages, which is now crawlable by search engines. This also provides a solution for international SEO. If the keywords in your source language are the same as the keywords in your target language, content translated by Transifex Live can be indexed, meaning enhanced visibility and higher search engine rankings on a global scale.

Interested in seeing Transifex Live in action? Request a demo! Or check out our website at www.transifex.com for more information.

Emojis Break Global Language Barriers

Everyone’s using emojis. In fact, four out of five 18 to 65 year olds use emojis on a regular basis, while almost three quarters of those aged 18 to 25 find it easier to express emotion through emojis rather than written word. Research from Swyft Media also shared that the 2 billion smartphone users worldwide were responsible for delivering 41.5 billion messages containing at least 6 billion emojis. What do these statistics tell us? A lot – which we’ll dive into in this post – but one thing is undoubtedly clear: emojis are here to stay.

The Evolution of the All-Powerful Emoji

Emoji, which literally means picture (e) + character (moji) first emerged in Japan in 1999. Designer Shigetaka Kurita based the original emojis off symbols used in weather forecasts to depict things like heat, sunshine, wind, and rain, and from manga which used stock symbols to express emotions. While the original emojis were specific to Japanese culture, they’ve expanded over time to include a large set of characters that depict everything from smiling faces and animals to types of transportation and a wide range of foods. Some emoji characters have even been incorporated into a standard system for indexing characters (Unicode) which has allowed them to be used across different operating systems.

The chart below shows that emoji usage is on the rise in countries all over the world. Adoption rate continues to be strong, signaling to global brands that using emojis properly can result in fun and engaging marketing messages. Some industry experts even argue that the right emoji campaign has the power to strengthen a company’s voice or brand positioning, a key metric in today’s world where the competition for consumer attention is extremely high.

Emojis-Country-Usage

Marketers Jump on the Emoji Bandwagon

Whenever a new consumer trend emerges, it doesn’t take long for marketers to jump in and try to recreate the buzz in innovative marketing campaigns. Here are a few big-name brands that tried their hand at launching emoji-filled campaigns on social media platforms, specifically targeting younger buyers that have been historically difficult to market to.

Domino’s

One of the most talked-about emoji campaigns was headed by Domino’s, a company looking to rebrand itself in terms of product offerings, messaging, and brand voice. They targeted millennials, leading with the ease and convenience of their tweet-to-order campaign. After setting up your ordering preferences on the Domino’s website, all you have to do is tweet the pizza emoji to Domino’s. If you’re not a fan of emojis, the hashtag #EasyOrder works too.

Dominos-Emoji-Campaign

So far, we can’t find any data pointing to the actual number of orders Domino’s received using the pizza emoji (outside the 500 orders reported when the campaign first launched). But Domino’s did gain a lot of public attention from media outlets including USA Today, Good Morning America, Forbes, and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, drawing positive PR and putting Domino’s at the top of pizza eaters’ minds.

Coca Cola

Coca Cola is one of the most notable brands that has really invested in social media marketing. Earlier this year, they posted a number of billboards in Puerto Rico like the one pictured below:

Coke-Emoji-Campaign

According to Adweek (also the source of the above picture), the company registered all web addresses that included smiling emojis on the .ws domain. Because emojis are not accepted on domains like .com, .net, and .org, a Coca Cola rep said .ws was chosen because the letters could stand for “we smile” – a tagline that’s very relevant to the Coca Cola brand. While .ws actually stands for Western Samoa, anyone who types in one of the emoji.ws URLs will be directed to Coca Cola’s Puerto Rico site. At the very least, the billboards generated a lot of Twitter buzz with thousands of people retweeting the various billboards.

Chevrolet

American car manufacturer, Chevrolet, took a different approach to using emojis. They shared the news of their new 2016 Cruze with the below press release, written entirely in emojis:

Chevy-Emoji-Campaign

While we admire the unique marketing approach, it’s hard to wrap our heads around the value of Chevy’s post when you have no idea what it says. Take the first bullet point for example. We looked up the “translated” version of Chevy’s press release and that first bullet point really says, “Design: Athletic build, stylish, and good looking,” which in our opinion, takes quite a bit of reading between the lines. Did Chevy take emojis too far?

Going Global with Emojis

At Transifex, we know that a certain phrase or sentence can’t always be translated word for word from one language to another. But with proper research and the right string of icons, or in this case emojis, the same message can overcome traditional language barriers and reach customers in various global markets. And in our mobile-driven world where screens are small, space is tight, and time is short, emojis enable localization by allowing companies to convey a message with a single (or few) images rather than an entire sentence or paragraph.

That said, just like any other aspect of localization, it’s important to do your research. SwiftKey, a London-based keyboard app, shares that not all emojis are used equally across countries. Knowing which icons are most popular in which countries can help you tailor your message to evoke positive sentiment among your target customers.

Emoji-Sentiment-SwiftKey

And if you’re thinking about using emojis in your email marketing campaigns, check out data from Mailchimp that shares the top emojis used in email subject lines.

Commonly-Used-Emojis

Humanizing Messages by Infusing Personal Character

While the fun of emojis is undeniable, there seems to be one standout reason why they’ve been adopted by users of all ages. Emojis have the ability to humanize messages, to add a richness and sense of personal interaction to otherwise plain text. The use of a smiley face within content evokes feelings of happiness and joy in the reader, and may even cause the physical reaction of a smile. If you ask us, emojis are changing the way digital content is perceived; doing what tone of voice does on the telephone and what gestures do in face-to-face communication.

Interested in learning more about localization? Whether you’re using emojis or just sticking to traditional text, learn how the Transifex localization platform can help you translate and localize your website, web app, or mobile app.

Designing a Localization Friendly User-Interface: Managing Locale Specific Content (Part 2)

Continuing from our previous post about best practices for global UI design, we wanted to share insight about managing locale specific content. We’ve also opened up the comment section so feel free to share your stories relating to the early stages of application design and localization.

Identify and Plan for Locale Specific Variations

There are a number of locale specific variations that must be addressed in the user interface so your users can connect with your software in a language and locale that feels native to them. These include:

Calendar, Date, Time, Currency and Numbers

Numerical data, such as date, time, and currency, as well as calendar-related events are displayed differently from language to language. When users arrive at your website or use your application, the last thing they want to do is convert prices into local values to make decisions. Your user-interface must be designed to display locale specific data correctly in order to offer a positive user experience.

The example below shows how, based on the user’s chosen locale, calendar and currency are displayed. In this example, it is achieved by defining language specific javascripts.

Localize-Time-and-Date

Sorting Rules for Different Languages

Languages have their own sorting rules, so if your application’s user interface displays data in a sorted view, it should be in a locale-aware manner. This implies that the proper locale must be passed to the “sort” API used by your application and the sorting algorithm should handle locale specific rules. For instance, your menu items, if sorted alphabetically, may not hold the same value for all languages. It would be better if you have them sorted by functionality.

The below examples will help you understand how different sorting rules followed by different locales can affect your application.

Example 1: An application that sorts the names Ändrè and Andrew produces different results depending on the locale.
German: Ändrè is at the beginning
Swedish: Andrew is first

Example 2: Sorting is even more complicated in Japanese since it has thousands of characters and four different types of written characters. The special nature of kanji characters and their pronunciations make it extremely hard if not impossible to sort accurately. It is not possible to digitally guess the pronunciation, so it is a good idea to ask the user for the pronunciation. You will find that most of the software applications in Japanese adopt this approach.

The snapshots below show how amazon.com addresses this issue in the Japanese version of their website. In their new user registration form, there is an additional field for Japanese which captures the pronunciation in katakana for the name field from the user. With the kanji name and the correct pronunciation, it becomes easier to sort the user information in Japanese.

Amazon-Localization

Icons and Imaging

Icons may hold different meanings in different cultures. Icons that are accepted in a certain culture may even be offensive in another, so design should aim to include universally understood and accepted icons wherever possible.

You could choose to localize icons for every target locale (culture) or internationalize them by restricting your icon usage to universal symbols. The icons in the example below have become standards because of their widespread usage, but are not necessarily approved or licensed by any international committee.

Localization-Images

There are few icons standardized by ISO and you can find them under their user interface standards.

Images with Embedded Text

When localizing content, one of the most commonly overlooked texts are those embedded within images. To ensure that embedded text is not displayed in the source language, and instead in the language of the user, use as little embedded text as possible. If you must have text embedded within images, using SVG files for your graphics may come in handy because SVG supports text that can be easily localized.

Embedded-Text-Images-Localization

SVG files are XML, which makes the text strings embedded within the graphics to be easily accessed for translation using XSLT. Since XLIFF files are XML, the translated text strings can be assembled back into SVG files using XSLT. The diagram below shows the localization workflow for translating text within SVG image files.

Implement Responsive Design

With the increasing number of mobile users worldwide, developers are compelled to design applications and websites that can be viewed and used on a variety of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. This necessitates design practices that allow the user interface to expand and contract in size based on the user’s screen resolution, also known by the term “Responsive Design.”

Enabling Proper Localization

The responsive design technique can complement the localization requirements of your user-interface because the goals are similar – handle fluctuations in size. When you design the UI to accommodate multiple device sizes and resolutions, your user interface is designed to be flexible for dynamic expansion and contraction. It is now becoming increasingly popular to look at “Responsive Design” as tied up with “Localizable UI Design”.

You can verify the responsiveness of your design and get a good idea of how your design looks on multiple screen sizes by using emulators and virtual machines or testing services and tools like BrowserStack where you can generate screenshots at actual device sizes. There are also community efforts available like OpenDeviceLab where you will find shared community pools of internet connected devices for testing applications and websites.

Have other tips about designing a localization friendly user interface? Comment below or learn more about localizing your product by contacting our localization team and request a personalized demo!

Designing a Localization-Friendly User Interface (Part 1)

More and more businesses are expanding into new foreign markets, and are realizing that in order to be successful, the target market’s local customs must be recognized, respected, and reflected in any digital content. In this two part series, we’ll discuss the challenges involved in creating a user-friendly interface and present a few best practices that will meet (and exceed) the needs of your multilingual users. Part 1 will focus specifically on the importance of a flexible and dynamic layout for overall consistency.

Design Your Layout to be Flexible and Dynamic

Some languages are more verbose than others, meaning your design must account for text expansion and contraction in translated languages. The general rule is to plan for an average of 35% text expansion. The example below illustrates how the character length of a text string will vary from language to language.

 

EnglishTransifex makes localization easy.
DutchTransifex maakt lokalisatie gemakkelijk.
Chinese SimplifiedTransifex 使得本地化容易。
HindiTransifex स्थानीयकरण आसान बनाता है।

Development frameworks provide features that can help you to program dynamic UI expansion and contraction. Although the intricacies may vary based on the framework, the design considerations detailed below are mostly common.

1. Sizing Metrics

Your user interface window and elements should be laid out relative to each other without fixed positions or sizes in order to allow them to realign as required for every language.

  • Container: Your design should let the main container/wrapper adjust to the size of the contained elements that may change with every language.
  • Elements: Avoid using fixed width/height constraints for buttons, labels, text fields, images, menus, dialog boxes and all other elements of the interface. Setting fixed sizes may lead to your text appearing cropped or create excessive empty space in some translated languages.

2. Right to Left Flip

In certain languages like Arabic and Hebrew, text is read from right-to-left (RTL) necessitating your entire design to be flipped. A modular design approach will come in handy while accommodating RTL languages. For example, the homepage of Facebook is designed to flip neatly for Arabic and other RTL languages as shown below:

Facebook-EnglishFacebook-Arabic

When localizing, the below elements should not be mirrored in RTL languages:

  • Images, except when they correspond to direction (example: arrows)
  • Graphs (x– and y–axes are always shown in the same orientation in all languages)
  • Music notes and sheet music
  • Clocks
  • Video controls and timeline indicators

Most of the recent native frameworks are now mirroring aware, making it easier to create a mirrored layout with very limited code changes.

Example 1: iOS Support for RTL

Starting from iOS 9, there is comprehensive support for a mirrored user interface as listed below:

  • Make use of base internationalization and Auto Layout
  • Standard UIKit controls automatically flip in a right-to-left context
  • UIView defines semantic content attributes that allow you to specify how particular views should appear in right-to-left context. You can get the layout direction of an instance of UIView by calling the userInterfaceLayoutDirectionForSemanticContentAttribute, method as shown: if ([UIView userInterfaceLayoutDirectionForSemanticContentAttribute:view.semanticContentAttribute] == UIUserInterfaceLayoutDirectionRightToLeft) { … }
  • In iOS, using natural text alignment aligns text on the left in a left-to-right language, and automatically mirrors the alignment for right-to-left languages. For example, if you set the alignment of an NSMutableParagraphStyle object using the setAlignment: method, you should pass NSNaturalTextAlignment as the parameter.
  • UIImage offers the method imageFlippedForRightToLeftLayoutDirection, which makes it simple to flip an image programmatically when appropriate.

You can refer to the for more details on iOS support for internationalization.

Example 2: MSDN support for RTL (mirroring awareness)

You can activate mirroring and also have full control over when to enable mirroring – such as per process, per window or per device context, using the new mirroring APIs offered. You can refer to the developer reference guidefor full details.

3. Line Breaking and Word Wrapping

Latin and most Western languages use spaces to separate words. However, East Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean may not use spaces to separate words. Instead they rely on syllable boundaries. This implies that text wrapping may not always be done at spaces. Consider an example English sentence “I am a student.” The white space between words is often considered a delimiter for word-wrapping, but when translated to Chinese, sentences are written as strings of Chinese characters without any delimiters between them, as shown below:

 

EnglishI am a student.
Chinese Simplified我是一名学生。

For character-based languages, your application cannot rely on the usual line-breaking and word-wrapping algorithms for text parsing or display. Your routines must be able to handle text without spaces or punctuations, especially when wrapping for layout. This is easier said than done because in many cases you will find that linguistic expertise is required to handle this correctly.

For example, your text parsing routine for Chinese will require a specific Chinese word segmentation algorithm. There are many widely used algorithms and you can choose based on your application’s needs. Most of the word segmentation algorithms can be categorized under two types: lexical knowledge based methods (faster but less accurate) and linguistic knowledge based methods (highly accurate).

Select Fonts for Global Consistency

Although it seems like a minor step in the localization process, font choice can dramatically impact the layout and readability of your localized user interface and can also result in an inconsistent look and feel. To avoid picking the wrong font for your product, keep the following font-related notes in mind.

Fonts Must Provide Multi-Lingual Support

First and foremost, you need to choose a font that is Unicode-compliant, meaning the characters and text of your application have been encoded in a way that enables the exchange of text data internationally. It’s risky to assume that all fonts claiming to be Unicode will address all font-related issues in your multilingual interface. Some Unicode fonts may only support characters at the correct code-point and may not have usable characters for all code-points.

To prevent issues with Unicode fonts, refer to the recently introduced Google Noto Fonts, which aim to provide pan-language harmony and can be used for web as well as desktop applications. There are many resources* available online where you can search for a list of fonts that are Unicode compatible and the characters they support.

Font Sizes Vary from Language to Language

A 12px font may be readable in English with no issues, while the same font may be extremely difficult to see when translated to Japanese. That leaves us with the question, is there an ideal multilingual font size? Unfortunately, there isn’t an ideal font size that works for all languages across the globe, but one option is to implement a dynamic layout to handle varying text size. If you wish to maintain a globally consistent layout, you could also adopt a variable font size option to give a better user experience across languages and devices. We’ll use the following example to explain further.

If you are designing a website, then it is common practice to use separate language-specific style sheets and define specific styles to suit every target language. In the example below, the font-size for the text “I am a student” will vary, based on the language, as specified in 2 different stylesheets style.en-US.css and style.ja-JP.css.

 

English (style.en-US.css)Japanese (style.ja-JP.css)
p { font-size: 14px; }p { font-size: 16px; }
I am a student我是一名学生。

Manage Content for Different Global Markets

Now that we’ve discussed how to lay out your website to create a localization friendly user interface, we must address how to manage your content for different global markets. Because that’s going to take more than a few sentences, we’re going to save it for later this week, so check back for part 2 of our designing a localization friendly user-interface series!

Video Game Localization:

Make Sure Your Time in the Spotlight Isn’t Focused on an Unfortunate Blunder

As amusing as they can be, error-riddled video game translations just don’t cut it. As developers translate games into other languages and localize content for different cultures, gamers expect localized games to read and play as they would for their original audience. Mistakes, like the Zero Wing fiasco pictured below, should be avoided at all costs.

Worst-Video-Game-Localization

For those who don’t know, Zero Wing is infamous in the gaming community for having the worst translations in video game history. Their Japanese to English translation of the phrase “All your bases are now under our control” appeared in the game’s opening sequence as “All your base are belong to us.” The translation was first mocked by gamers, but in 1999 the catchphrase went viral, becoming the tagline for thousands of memes, image macros, and flash animations. Even notable publications like Wired Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Guardian gave the grammatically incorrect sentence some time in the spotlight.

Translate and Localize Your Video Game the Right Way

Zero Wing taught developers, publishers, and gamers the importance of accurate translations, but localization isn’t as simple as translating content from one language to another.

1. Truly understand the markets you want to enter.

You might have a list of the most profitable gaming markets and industries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your game is right for those markets.

  • Do your due diligence in regards to research. Learn about the gaming industry in the country/countries you want to launch your game in, including what genres and style of games are most popular. For example, Japan is a thriving gaming market with a passionate playing audience, and household gaming names like Nintendo and Sony call the country home. While Japan appears to be a good market for localizers, studies show that the gaming audience of Japan is typically younger as most adults have little leisure time outside of their work responsibilities. Putting in the time to research the nuances of other countries’ gaming markets can save developers from localizing in a country that simply doesn’t make sense for their game.
  • Determine if the market has money to spend. A country with a large number of native speakers doesn’t always equate to localization success. Ask yourself if potential players can afford to buy your game and if they would spend money for in-game purchases. This can help you decide if your return on investment will be worth the time and effort it takes to localize a video game for a new market.
  • Consult with local gamers. You’ll gain the best feedback and market understanding by going straight to the source: gamers. Whether through surveys, focus groups, or in-person and video conferencing interviews, interacting with local gamers from the country you want to localize into can help you decide if it’s a market you want to enter. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’re not trying to establish subject-matter expert proficiency, but asking about certain cultural components of your game and how they’ll likely be perceived by a certain population can prevent you from entering the wrong market.

2. Pay close attention to cultural norms.

Cultural mistakes often prove the most costly for video game developers and publishers – not just in terms of lost revenue, but in negative public relations and damage to their corporate image. Learn from the mistakes of failed video game localization campaigns and pay careful attention to:

Historical Accuracy
History is a compelling topic, and developers and game creators often draw from the historical events of other cultures to connect with players. Yet, many cultures are protective of their historical legacy. Include an inaccurate representation of a historic event and open your game to strong criticism from players in other countries.

A popular example of historical inaccuracy in video games comes from popular Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The game is set during the French Revolution, and Ubisoft, the game’s makers, admit it exaggerates the course of history. For example, the modern French flag is waved and the modern national anthem is used on the soundtrack though neither was adopted until after the revolution. But what has seemed to upset the French the most, is the inaccurate depiction of Maximilien de Robespierre. French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon shared his thoughts in The Independent saying, “This is propaganda against the people. The people are [shown as] barbarians, as bloody savages. A man who was our liberator at one stage of the Revolution is portrayed as a monster.” While most outrage was expressed by France’s political leaders and the game did not suffer financially, a blunder like this has the potential to create great negative backlash and in extreme cases, may cause a game to be taken off the shelves.

Religion and Belief Systems
Some games reference elements of religion within their storylines to add interest for players, but not understanding how these religious references will affect players in another country can hinder sales and cause negative backlash from an entire culture. Smart developers understand how other cultures may be offended by sensitive themes, objects, or characters within their game, and know when to pull the plug on a localization effort when it just isn’t the right fit.

Take Microsoft for example. Their popular Fallout 3 game was scheduled for release in India, but was unexpectedly cancelled. While Microsoft didn’t give an official statement for Fallout 3’s cancellation, speculation that the game was offensive toward the Indian culture surfaced soon after. In the Hindu religion, cows are viewed as sacred animals and in Fallout 3, the storyline features Brahmin (two-headed cows mutated by radiation) as shooting targets for players. The idea of mutating a sacred animal creates issues alone, but having players shoot at them would likely cause even more controversy. To top it off, the actual word Brahmin represents a prominent concept in Hindu religion meaning the primal source and ultimate goal of all beings. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why Microsoft cancelled Fallout 3’s release in India.

3. Find translators that are gamers.

While it may seem like a simple prerequisite, many localizers overlook the importance of hiring translators that are also gamers. Naturally, that brings us to the question, why does it matter if your translator plays video games? They’re native speakers who have a solid grasp of the language you want to localize into, right? Isn’t that enough? Not necessarily. Translators who don’t play video games don’t always have the background or understanding that’s required for translating the niche-terms gamers expect in the gaming world. And with gamers expecting nothing short of perfection, it’s important that your localized game plays just as it would for its intended audience.

4. Give translators context…

Not all phrases translate perfectly across languages, meaning developers have to provide translators with context to get translations that actually make sense. Remember, you’re not just trying to make sure gamers understand your storyline, you’re trying to give them a way to engage with your game’s content at a more meaningful level.

To give your translators context, you’ve got to let your translators play through your game. Yes, it might be time consuming and come with a large upfront cost, but it’ll be cheaper than going back and re-doing subtitles post-production – or even worse, being the headline of a public relations crisis. To put it simply, you’d expect someone translating the subtitles of a movie to have seen the movie first, so why would it be any different for a video game? Take into account that games are often way more complicated, having multiple story branches and text files with no logical order, and making sure your translators play through your game becomes non-negotiable.

5. …and the tools they need.

Just as your development team uses different tools to make sure projects deploy on time, your translators need a set of tools to make sure their work goes smoothly. For instance, tools like Translation Memory (TM) can save translators valuable time, while enhancing workflow. On a basic level, Translation Memory is a database of previously translated phrases that have been approved by you or your organization’s localization manager. When a translator is working on a phrase similar to one that’s already been translated, TM will provide suggestions so the same translations aren’t done over and over again – saving time. And saving time means saving money.

For video game developers working with constantly changing resource files or large teams, localization automation platforms can make all the difference. Video game developers can invite their translators into the platform where they can do all of the translation work. Developers can also assign roles, such as administrator, project manager, or translator, to different individuals involved in the project to enhance workflow and ensure the right content is being translated correctly.

6. Don’t forget about the dimensions of the actual text.

When you translate a word, sentence, or phrase from one language to another, there’s almost always going to be a discrepancy in length. Sometimes the translated phrase will be shorter, other times it will be longer, and in some cases, like when translating into Chinese or Japanese, translations will appear as symbols or characters. If your game isn’t programmed to handle proportional fonts (internationalized), these discrepancies in word length may cause your game to look broken. Text may overlap certain images or not be visible on the player’s screen at all. Keeping font in mind when localizing can ensure the best gamer experience possible.

Text Used in Graphics
Most experienced video game developers avoid text in graphics because localizing them can be an uphill battle. Development teams will need to identify all the images with text, and redraw or recreate all of the graphical images for each language. This step in the process also requires communication with translators to make sure the new graphics read correctly. Then, you’ll need to account for additional time spent integrating the images back into the game. Best practices would be to avoid graphics in text entirely, but if you’re already using them, consider replacing text with symbols that can be used in any version of your localized game. For example, a speech bubble graphic with text could be replaced with, “?!#%” – a practice commonly used in video game localization.

7. Use feedback as your trump card.

Most modern games rely on beta testers to find flaws and bugs in a game before its official release, and the same should be done when localizing a game for a new language and country. Your testers should not only be good gamers, they should be strong linguists in the target language. This combination of skills will help make sure the game plays through smoothly and that translations make sense in context. If you’re translating into multiple languages, you’ll likely have multiple teams, each responsible for testing a different localized version of your game. Here are a few other things to keep in mind when testing your game:

  • Clearly outline objectives for testers. Create a list or set of guidelines that outline what your testers are actually testing for. In addition to proper translations, you can have them keep an eye out for images or objects that may be offensive to a particular group of people, poor color choices, and cultural faux pas.
  • Create a channel for feedback. If your testers have feedback, they’ll need a place to share it. Clearly define how feedback is submitted and make it open to your entire group of testers so everyone can add their thoughts. Getting more engagement from your team will give you additional confidence that you’re making the right localization choices – and could save you from making the wrong ones!
  • Assign roles to solve disputes. Assigning roles like tester and lead translator can help solve problems when team members disagree. For instance, making it a policy that your lead translator will make the final decision when a translator or QA tester do not agree on the way a certain translation appears in the game, can be a quick way to solve problems and keep workflow moving.

An investment of time and effort during the game development process will make sure there are no surprises during post-production. If you have other questions about localization or are interested in learning more about the industry, check out our quick guide for localizing video games!