Content Translation in the Mobile Era: 3 Lessons to Learn the Easy Way

By TechZone360 Special Guest
Calvin Scharffs, VP of Marketing for Lingotek
January 26, 2015

The tech industry is working hard to destroy the virtual Tower of Babel. If you only speak English and Skype a Spanish speaker Microsoft will now translate your conversation in real-time. Google Translate will soon recognize popular languages and text you an instant translation.

As these technologies gain ground, immediate translation will become a regular way of doing business. Content will appear in concise, mobile-friendly snippets in the user’s language of choice. This is a far cry from the content of just a few years ago, when long-winded brochures and selectively translated web pages were still acceptable.

How do you keep up with the new pace of translation? The answer is to re-think what content translation means, and when it occurs. Here are three simple places to start.

1. Translate everything

Translating all of your content is no longer a choice, but a requirement. In 2014, China alone outsized the U.S. by more than a billion people. China and India together comprised more than a third of the world's population. For an American, it’s convenient to argue that English is the universal language of the Internet, but the markets would beg to differ. Seventy percent of online users visit websites in their native tongue, and users are four times more likely to buy from a website that’s in their language, according to Common Sense Advisory and IDC.

Save yourself time and market share by making all your content translatable from the get-go. It used to be common practice to translate selectively—for example, only your website or your app. But when your new users or resellers start looking past the sales pitch, they hit a language barrier with documentation. The underlying message is that they were important enough to sell to, but not important enough to support.

Adding translation directly into your CMS workflow will enable you to quickly translate any and all content, not just the content you—but maybe not your users—deem worthy.

2. Size Matters

For the moments that a user lays eyes on them, those few square inches of real estate on a mobile device's screen are the most precious in the world. Make the most of those moments with localization. Just like your maps shouldn't start in L.A. for users in Bangkok, the language shouldn't start in English.

Whether for reference or entertainment, users shouldn’t have to adjust to their apps. If words appear on the screen, whether a sales pitch or a support forum, they need to be in the user's language. If not, users will find your competitor’s app, and you’ll be left wondering where your market share went.

3. Bake Translation Into the Creative Process

Creating content and then manually sending it out for translation is like writing code and then sending it out to have compiled. In-CMS, cloud-based solutions make translation a given, from concept to shipping. Adjust your workflow to translate early in the process so that every piece of content ends up in a user’s own language whether that user is a customer, the call center, or a developer.

From Afterthought to Integration

The new real-time translation paradigm delivers on one of the early promises of the computer age—complete automation. Just because some of your content silos are on opposite sides of the planet does not mean you can't bring them together with automated translation. Any content can be translated automatically, behind the scenes, into almost any language. With the lightning-fast growth of mobile platforms, something like translation can quickly cost you market share. Don’t be left behind.

About the Author: Calvin is a dedicated executive with over 18 years of experience managing products, sales, marketing, operations, and personnel. His experience ranges from work with a Fortune 500 company to small start-ups.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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