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?

Wrong.

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 .com.ar) 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.

3 comments:

Neil said...

And the answer to why the bottle is on the car??????????

Jules said...

Its for sale....

Awesome post nuno!

Nick Roussakov said...

Nice one Nuno. Very informative and entertaining.