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June 23, 2015

Localization, scalability, and consistency

When companies need to change the way they’re producing content, localization and scalability can be two of the biggest motivating factors. If your company’s content is not consistent, you may face significant challenges with translating it into new languages or distributing it via new platforms. A content strategy that embraces consistency and emphasizes planning for the future will help your company navigate these changes more smoothly.

(flickr: Beverley Goodwin)

(flickr: Beverley Goodwin)

Localization

Localization is usually difficult, time-consuming, and expensive—especially if your company is doing so for the first time. Even if you’re already localizing your content, a major increase in the number of required languages or a demand for new types of languages (such as right-to-left) may suddenly feel like more than your current process can handle. Here are some ways you can make localization easier and offset costs:

  • Prepare your content. Using consistent terminology, avoiding jargon, and practicing cultural awareness when you’re creating your source content can make it more ready for translation.
  • Plan ahead. As your company grows, localization will become more and more of a requirement. If you have target markets in other countries in mind, it never hurts to start researching their localization needs ahead of time.

Scalability

Companies can grow and scale up their operations in a number of ways. Maybe your company is growing larger, hiring more employees, and developing more products. Maybe you’re getting requests for content distribution through a wider variety of channels (print, PDF, HTML, online help), optimized for desktop and mobile. You might also be expanding into the global market, which means scalability will go hand-in-hand with localization.

Thinking about your company’s long-term goals for growth and planning for the future can help you avoid some of these common roadblocks to scalability:

  • Your content creation process is too slow or too small-scale to keep up with the demands of company growth.
  • Your content creation process can’t handle new localization requirements.
  • Your content is developed in a way that results in limited output types (such as a desktop publishing system that can’t produce output in electronic formats).

Consistency

When it comes to localization and scalability, inconsistent content can be part of the problem, so making your content more consistent can be part of the solution. Inconsistency makes translation and legacy conversion difficult, introduces accessibility issues, and ultimately hurts your brand. Here are some ways you can make your content more consistent:

  • Have a style guide (and use it). Train your content creators on consistent style and make checking for consistency a major focus of the review process.
  • Replace manual processes with automated ones. If a style guide alone is unreliable, use templates to help enforce it. The more you automate your content development, the less room you have for human error.
  • Consider controlled language software. If inconsistency is a huge pain point for your company, it may be best to invest in technology that can strictly enforce language and style.

Getting your content consistent can be difficult, especially if you’re currently working without a style guide or templates, but the rewards are worthwhile. Consistency can save your company money by allowing you to produce, translate, and publish your content more quickly and efficiently. With consistent content, localization and scalability will seem less like insurmountable obstacles and more like exciting markers of company growth.

To see how much your company could save by creating more consistent content, try our business case calculator.