Why it’s a good idea to think about localisation before you create your content

Published on March 2nd, 2016

When we talk about content localisation, it is easy to imagine working with a finished piece of content, localising it and then moving onto the next. Sometimes, this is unavoidable (if you have a backlog of content to adapt, for example), but it can be helpful to think about localisation before your content is written.

This can be built into the planning stages of your content strategy. It not only helps to produce a better quality of content for each target audience, but also streamlines the localisation process and avoids a number of challenges further down the line. Let’s take a closer look at why you need to think about localisation before you create your content.

Your content strategy might need localising too

The most important word in any content strategy is audience, and that just happens to be the most important word in localisation too. You can’t create a content strategy that gets results without knowing the audiences you are trying to connect with – and that starts with knowing who those audiences are.

localisation audience

Defining these audiences will determine the best approach to localising your content, the constraints you have to work with and the targets you need to hit. Each of these audiences will also come with their own cultural background, which raises a number of points to consider:

  • The topics most important to them could be different;
  • Your approach to steering them along the buying process can vary;
  • You need to consider the laws and censorship within any given country;
  • Outside the law, you need to consider – on a cultural and more personal level – how your topics, subject matter, visuals and everything else will be accepted by each audience.

All of the points above (and there are plenty more) can be more difficult to work in once your content is already created. When you plan your content strategy for each target market, you want to know which pieces of content can work internationally and where you may need to create separate content, specifically tailored to the individual needs of each market.

Technical factors can cause problems later on

As soon as you translate or localise to another language your content changes length. This can affect the layout of your website (or especially an app interface), which is something you want to anticipate. Take the navigation menu on your website, for example, a longer word could break your entire navigation by being too long for one of its containers.

It’s not just the visual size of letters and words that comes into play here either, but also the number of pixels they require. A display with a much smaller pixel density will display these characters larger than a higher resolution screen would.

There are many other technical factors to think about too; those BuzzFeed-style image lists could take a lifetime to load on a 3G mobile connection in South America, for example. It is important to remember that technical factors not only impact how you localise content, but also the kind of content you can produce in the first place.

Producing cost-effective visuals

The modern web is a visual one and, in case you hadn’t noticed, video is leading the way in web content. The trouble is that producing images, graphics, videos and other visuals is more expensive than writing a page of content or a blog. You need a cost-effective process to create these visuals for multiple markets, and that takes extra planning once again.

It’s great if you have the budget to shoot separate videos for each market, but that’s normally reserved for the corporate giants. Instead, you’ll want to make one video, or most of it, accessible to each audience and then localise it from there.

Avoid any cultural faux pas and the main bulk of your video can act as a sort of template to build on. You can add voiceovers or subtitles for different languages and shoot additional footage for each specific audience, to give it that native feel. As long as you’re thinking about localisation from the moment that you start planning your video, you’ll be able to cut down on the production time and the overall cost, while making the localisation process easier while you’re at it.

So there you have it, three working examples of why it pays to think about localisation before you create your content. This isn’t always possible when you have existing content to localise, and that’s fine. However, as soon as you know there are international audiences on the agenda, you’ll want to start thinking about localisation when you start setting out your next content strategy.

Posted on: March 2nd, 2016