How can I get budget dollars for localization?
"We have a fair number of overseas customers, but I can't seem
to convince top management that we should translate our Web
content into any language besides English. How can I persuade
the Ugly Americans in my company to show a little more enlightenment?"
—Francine in Finovia
For starters, let me suggest that translation decisions are a little
more complicated than the Ugly Americans vs. the Globally
Enlightened. Even the biggest software companies have learned
the hard way that true multi-language support is hugely expensive--
and, worse, doesn't always leave their overseas customers feeling
good about the effort.
The biggest problem is that the job is never done. Software companies
are constantly rolling out new products, constantly adding new
tech notes, new resources, new tools to their Web sites. Even
with the most streamlined procedures, it can take a good three to
four weeks to translate and distribute every new item of
localized Web content.
And for overseas customers, the net result is that their localized
content usually lags well behind the latest English-only pages.
Especially during a new-product launch, overseas users quickly
figure out that they're missing some of the best support information
available--and they end up back on the company's English-only pages.
Is there a solution to the content-synchronization problem? Well,
one approach is to focus your efforts on translating just your top
25-50 "frequently asked questions"--which, if you're accurately
tracking the issues that are getting the most traffic, will probably
resolve two-thirds or more of all your total overseas incidents.
Creating an FAQ section in several languages is a manageable
problem, it's not a budget-buster, and it sets up more realistic
expectations about what kind of localized content you offer. Of
course, your overseas customers will still have to fall back on
English-only tech notes for help with more obscure issues, but
they're probably doing that already.
"One solution is to use an automatic Web translation service, such
Or offer a link to a free service on the Web. It is far from perfect,
but it show's a sensibility, perhaps."
For an excellent ROI model for localization investments, check out this
article by Rebecca Ray of LISA:
[Other comments and suggestions about this topic? Send me an
email and we'll post your