Localizing apps at scale comes with many unique challenges. Ideally, businesses would prepare for them upstream in the localization process. But in reality, many fail to do so. Issues rarely surface until it is time to localize the app — and then the business is left with lots of elements that still need to be reworked.
Representatives of two fast-moving, content-driven global brands shared their app-localization journeys at a recent webinar hosted by AI-powered language service provider, Lingo24.
Eventbrite Localization Manager, Patrick McLoughlin, and Virgin Pulse SVP of Product, Bob Goodman, spoke to the online audience that represented a good cross-section of localization stakeholders.
Based on a poll conducted during the webinar, most of the audience localized into 10 or more languages (71%), and considered their biggest challenges when localizing apps to be the ability to scale (44%) as well as getting language quality right (33%).
What follows are three key areas that top online ticketing platform, Eventbrite, and leading health and well-being platform, Virgin Pulse, focused on improving when localizing at scale.
1. Embedding localization across the business
Localization teams need to ensure that cross-functional teams (e.g., marketing, product, engineers) understand what localization is and how it impacts the wider strategic outputs of the organization.
“No localization team exists in a vacuum. We depend and execute on the projects, metrics, and deliverables of other teams as much as we do our own,” Eventbrite’s McLoughlin said.
So forge those relationships, McLoughlin emphasized — be it with marketing, product management, engineering, or even upper management. Do not just coordinate schedules and international product releases; evangelize the importance of localization as well.
According to the Eventbrite Localization Manager, “The product teams tend to get most of the glory. Engineers are the stars of the show. Marketing does its job well. But sometimes localization gets lost in the shuffle.” He suggested running training sessions to communicate results and explain how localization helped achieve them.
Goodman, Senior VP of Product at Virgin Pulse went on to emphasize that to truly globalize and localize your product takes a lot of thought from a systems perspective. Having a secure system in place and educating all the stakeholders involved is the best way to ensure no misunderstandings creep in.
“The product teams tend to get most of the glory. Engineers are the stars of the show. Marketing does its job well. But sometimes localization gets lost in the shuffle” — Patrick McLoughlin, Localization Manager, Eventbrite
2. Pull It Upstream
When working at scale, pull everything you can upstream. One way to do that, McLoughlin said, is training translators “so that they’re really ready to do their job without too many questions. While we do LQA and quality is crucial, we try to invest as much as possible in upstreaming so that we’re not just fixing everything after the fact.”
The Eventbrite Localization Manager said it helps to create a symbiotic relationship with translators, whom they provide with training and as much context as possible around upcoming product releases. “They are, ultimately, the ones wording your marketing and product content for those other markets you’re in. So investing time and money in them is paramount to us, which sometimes means we focus less on QA,” McLoughlin said.
Virgin Pulse’s Goodman, meanwhile, stressed how vital it is to understand the GILT framework as a series of steps (i.e., Globalization, Internationalization, Localization,Translation) toward localizing at scale. He shared that educating key teams in GILT helps position the importance of getting the earlier steps right upstream, especially when working with apps.
2. Context Is Crucial
To deliver a great user experience, context is key. Virgin Pulse’s Goodman said that one thing they did was to create a global style guide that all stakeholders could share. He explained that to develop a base of global English (i.e., a uniform base for purposes of localization), they carefully considered which branding jargon and idioms might not translate well into other languages and cultures — and then put that all into the style guide.
Goodman further shared that their global style guide also includes “a lot more context so the folks on the front lines could have things like supporting information about certain features or what happened in a user’s journey. That’s all baked into the workflow, both in our strings repository and our editorial and dynamic content that sits in our content management system layer.”
“It’s really techno-cultural; seeing an experience outside-in from multiple perspectives even within a company” — Bob Goodman, SVP of Product, Virgin Pulse
Moreover, the Virgin Pulse SVP of Product said, they drilled down into their translation memory (TM) to disambiguate at the segment level, not just at the word level. As an example, they used the word “steps” in different contexts.
Goodman explained, “For example, our physical activities and challenges use steps, and step counts, but we also have courseware that has steps as in ‘phases.’ We need to make sure we have that different context captured and separated in the TM.”
Getting globalization right is difficult because it is not only a technical challenge or a language challenge, Goodman pointed out. “It’s really techno-cultural; seeing an experience outside-in from multiple perspectives even within a company,” he said.
As for context from the perspective of user experience, Eventbrite’s McLoughlin noted the importance of surveys and performing sentiment analysis on what customers actually feel about a product. (e.g., Does it feel like it’s actually built in that country for that country?) “We sometimes get issues raised by Super Users, who have the bigger accounts with us. They give us very valuable feedback on terminology and style,” he said.
Each stakeholder in the organization will, ultimately, view business strategy, technology, or design through different lenses, according to Virgin Pulse’s Goodman. “All those perspectives have to be bridged to reach an outside-in understanding of customers’ diverse cultures and what meanings are embodied in those languages.”
The above is just a taste of what was discussed in the webinar. Listen to more insights, audience questions, and responses from the panel here.