Thursday, March 22, 2012

Uniquely positioned for Localization?

As you probably know, SDL Tridion's really great strength (other than a smashing interface and great tools of course), is Blueprinting.

I'm not going to talk about Tridion BluePrinting here, but rather on what it allows us to do as web content manager implementers. If you're searching for BluePrinting information, check here and here.

(Side note: BluePrinting is such a strong name when it comes to localization that even some of our competition is using it.)

As part of my job as evangelist/guru/community builder/promoter/trainer/debugger/fireman I sometimes get to lecture template developers in regards to best practices when going global, and I always find it curious how certain things that are so obvious to me feel so out-of-this-world to others. This post was triggered by finding a template with something along the lines of:

<div class="productprice">@@Labels.Price@@: $@@Fields.Price@@</div>

One might thing that it is great that the developer thought of using labels for the Price label, meaning I can easily translate this tag. But the template developer also left a '$' sign in the template, screwing up my chances to sell this product in Europe (or Canada, Mexico, Brazil, etc).

So when asked to fix this, the developer would probably do something like:

<div class="productprice"> @@Labels.Price@@: @@Labels.CurrencySymbol@@ @@Fields.Price@@</div>

Great, right? Pretty easy to deal with, right?


Some cultures will display the currency symbol after the amount, not before.

Another typical example I encounter is the myth that Latin America can be grouped into one large "Spanish" chunk, usually forgetting Brazil, and mostly forgetting culture - if not language. To be honest, yes, Argentinians will have no problem reading your site's Mexican version of their language. But they will also be rather quickly fed up of it (especially because your site's domain does end with and buy your product from that other site. You know, the one that knows what a frutilla is.

The sample above applies equally to French, Portuguese, English, Arabic, etc.

And then we get past language and into true localization.

I had the privilege of watching Mike Walsh's presentation "Yesterday the World changed - now it's your turn" during SDL Innovate in Santa Clara, and this was one of the best examples of true localization.
Why is the bottle on top of that car?

This will be incredibly obvious to a few million people, and extremely obscure to every one else. So why would your content in French interest both Canadian and Belgian visitors?

All this to say that I am getting to the conclusion that I am surrounded by people that understand these fine details of localization because of their own background. Half of the team I work with has lived in at least 3 different countries (really lived in, not just passing by doing a consulting gig), speaks 2 or more languages regularly and browse the web in multiple languages.

My own web content consumption is multilingual/localized. Of all the sites I regularly read:
  • 1 is Spanish
  • 3-4 are Portuguese
  • 1 is Dutch
  • 2 are French
The rest is either simplified English (you know, the non-native, non-localized version of it) or North American.

So, I guess I found the key. If you want to understand globalization & localization - go live somewhere else.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

SDL Innovate - what a blast!

This year's SDL Innovate conference was certainly one of the highlights of my career with SDL. What a great event we had (leave a comment if you agree!) with many interesting sessions, partner demos, guest speakers, and more importantly, good networking.

As promised in my previous post, here's a run-through of my short session on Tuesday afternoon about Targeting and your content.

The topic of the session I was involved in was "SDL Tridion Roadmap and Community Panel", with our VP of Products Ian Truscott getting us started by sharing the release plan for 2012, with the highlights being a new Tridion user interface (previously known as SiteEdit) for content editors, Enterprise Content Libraries for external systems integration and a new Tridion release towards the end of the year - more on these topics at a later date sometime soon.

While we were preparing for this session, me & Frank decided that rather than discuss what's coming up in products we should talk about what our current products already do but not all customers are doing:
  • Social
  • Targeting
  • Mobile
Here's what I had to say about Targeting.

We've been targeting (and targeted) for a long time
Ever since humans started trading, targeting has been done by everyone. From the butcher that tries to sell you his "best" meats, to the baker, there has always been an element of targeting, so it is certainly not a surprise that we do it on the web.

Targeting is always about getting something from you
We are always trying to sell something - content you're interested in (increase my views!), a visit to the closest store, a product, a return visit to the site. The objective of targeting is always to convince you of something you may be interested in.

There's many ways to target visitors
Almost everything on the web today involves targeting of some sort. We can always think about good old as the grandfather of targeting, and one of the things about Amazon is that they don't even try to be subtle about it - You bought this before, so you're likely to want this now.

Other sites also target you, but in subtler ways - LinkedIn regularly shows me job ads for jobs with the same Job Title I currently have, and google will show you a map in the search results page if you search for "walmart" or "starbucks" - all of that is targeting.

So, let's take a tour of how Targeting evolved in the past 10 years
10 years ago we could already target visitors (yes, Tridion had it!) based on 2 types of information we could retrieve from you:
  • Data you would tells about you on a registration form (Explicit)
  • Your click behavior browsing our site (Implicit)
We could do quite a lot of targeting based on this data, but the only data source we had for this behavior was our own website.

Fast forward 5 years to 2007
By 2007 most enterprises had finally sorted out their back end integrations, and we could start merging information from your "real" life and your virtual life. I suddenly knew that you were now at my site, and just had bought 5 cans of beer on one of our supermarkets this afternoon, and that perhaps you were trying to get some more delivered (long live loyalty cards!).

So now my data sources about a visitor were certainly growing - but still mostly confined to my own space.

Targeting in 2012
Now we have SO much information about visitors that the challenge becomes a "data management" challenge rather than an operational one. We (can) have access to so much data - your twitter streams, your facebook profile (and your friends'), your LinkedIn profile, your stack overflow, your blog, and this coupled with Social Intelligence tools can give us such a fine grained view of who you are, where you live, which products you like (and dislike) that the visitor becomes its own marketing segment.

What does it mean to content?
The biggest challenge for content creation teams is that with targeting comes content explosion. We have to start having a LOT more content than we ever did before if we want to cater to all possible variations of a user's preferences, history, Twitter opinions, frequent flier program, job title, etc, and a strong usage of taxonomy for your content is definitely recommended.

Key take away points:
  • More data than ever before about your visitors - and this will only increase
  • Customers want targeting. They want you to know who they are
  • Your content model must evolve from being page-centric to being customer-centric
  • Tools help execute - but cannot define your strategy

Monday, March 05, 2012

More targeting

Wow, this has been a great event so far - and we're not even half way through it.

The message seems to be clear - be relevant, be relevant, be relevant.

My session tomorrow is 100% about targeting. I have made a promise (mostly to myself, definitely not to our Sales team) to not mention a single product name, since I want to focus on the impact on your organization for content targeting instead of what product X does better than Y, and it seems that in every session so far content relevancy has been high up in the list of questions and topics.

Tahzoo's Brad Heidemann, during his presentation of how KeyBank is implementing Targeting for the 21st century, redirected some of the questions towards "my" session tomorrow so I can definitely start feeling the pressure.

[edits some slides]

Time to go back to the floor and listen to some more of the great stuff coming out of SDL Innovate - be sure to follow #sdlinnovate for the latest updates.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


This week I'm at SDL Innovate as part of the WCM Roadmap session with fellow Tridionauts Julian Wraith, Ian Truscott, Frank van Puffelen and Tridion MVP Chris Summers, and will be talking about how Targeting and providing relevant content to your visitors is not a scary task anymore - as long as you know what you're doing, and can cope with the impact on how you develop content.

More importantly, I will be trying to drive the message that targeting your audience is not something that relies only on technology, and that simply by the fact of using a CMS like Tridion you already have the ability to make your content relevant to your visitors - as long as you have a strategy.

Stay tuned, I'll post my presentation and notes here after delivering it on Tuesday afternoon.