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Internationalization

In these days, business and applications have a lot of markets that they have to cover that is why the internationalization of the contents is very important. It’s well known that the content is the most important thing for catching the attention of the customers and that fact is true, but also it is important that the customer can actually access and read the content.

The important problem is actually applying that theory and make it possible from the technical point of view and also the other problem is how to communicate the user about the internationalization and location options.

The most used techniques used are:

  • Using flags to show the different languages on which the content is available or for describing the different regions.
  • Use a link to change between different languages. Sometimes those links can be difficult to find for the users or can cause confusion.
  • Other technique is to adapt the website, the app or the software to the different countries and cultures but sometimes it is not possible to create so many different versions or costs too much money.

flags

Youtube.com shows the different languages with the associated flag

grooveshark

Grooveshark (a site for listening music online) provides its content in different languages and also encourage users to help with the translations to generate a more accurate dictionary.

elpais-ed

El País offers differnt editions of the newspaper for their multiple audiences.

So before going “International” some decisions and directions must be taken into account:

  1. Define user requirements: Determine the target and what the needs of the user are.
  2. Create Proper Organization: Content organization and display, also the navigation variances based on the different regions or languages on which the product should be available.
  3. Focus on User Experience: Try to create a special user experience that matches with the culture of the customers. For example writing from right to left.
  4. UI guidelines: The layouts and the display of the contents should consider the different language variations and also have to adapt the navigation, the images, icons and colors to be neutral for the different cultures and regions.
  5. Shopping Habits: They are different depending on the culture of the customer and that can affect to the internationalization of the software. If the software provides an e-shopping functionality those aspects have to be considered too in order to produce a better user experience and also to obtain profits.
  6. Different levels of respect in the relationships: Depending on the culture and the languages, there are some manners at moment of addressing to somebody that can be considered rude or not polite.

The following images are an example of the IKEA website in English  and the IKEA website in arab for the IKEA stores in the United Arab Emirates. The content and the display is adapted to the different audiences.

ikea - eng

ikea-ar

As a conclusion, there are many different ways to address an international audience with a software product and they are related to the cultures and language of that audience. First some research on the background of those behaviors of a determined culture. Also many different aspects have to be considered as part of that Internationalization process in order to obtain as a result a product that is trustable, user-friendly and familiar for the customers of different regions and languages.

Sources:

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