Earlier this week, in Part 1, I shared the first two things you need to know about global-ready content. Here are the other three.
3. Manage Change
One of the biggest reasons for content strategies and content management systems to fail is poor change management, both the human kind and the technical kind.
You can have the best technology and the most user-friendly system in the world, and it won’t matter one iota if you are having team issues that prevent you from maximizing the benefit. If you are asking people to significantly change the way that they approach their work, you need to prepare them properly, give them training and support, and reward the new behaviors that you want to see.
On the technical side, if you are not being proactive about your change management, you are costing your company money. Making changes to source content while it is being localized costs the company money and time, especially if the change is not vital. (Yes, I know everyone thinks their changes have to be done right now, but they are wrong.)
4. Watch Your Language!
English is a difficult and confusing language, even for native speakers. Homonyms and false friends abound, the grammar is inconsistent, and often has more exceptions than rules…and then there’s the fact that “English doesn’t just borrow from other languages, it drags them down dark alleys, knocks them over the head and rifles their pocket for loose grammar and vocabulary.” (from a t-shirt I saw at a gaming con).
According to Global Language Monitor, there are ~1,025,109 words in the English language as of 1 January 2014 (up from 1,009,753 in 2011). This statistic includes all words (jargon, idioms, variations of a word, neologisms, etc.).
The reality is that most dictionaries contain about 200,000-250,000 English words that are used most commonly. The unabridged Oxford English dictionary contains about 650,000 words.
When you consider that most other languages have fewer than 500,000 words, this difference has significant implications for how we write for localization, for terminology management, and is a strong argument for controlled language initiatives like Simplified Technical English. It is also one of the reasons for text expansion.
5. Be Excellent
Last, but certainly not least, do your best and produce excellent work in everything that you do, no matter how small.
Localization is a garbage in/garbage out process. If you have crappy source content, you are going to have crappy localized content and those issues will increase your costs, increase liability, and decrease usability and customer satisfaction. Make sure your source content is as error-free and high quality as possible with the project constraints. And, this is where an effective QA process comes in as well.
If you are in the habit of excellence and you have good QA processes, you will improve your chances of quality localized content.