The entire structure of the current global culture rests on our ever-improving ability to communicate with each other. The extent to which mankind has grown, has been the result of the exchange and retention of ideas. One of the greatest achievements of our species, is this enormous network of electronic devices and the unquantifiable number of interactions of the software on them.
Given that users of such software are spread across all ethnicities and cultures, any software developer who wants to place their product internationally needs to create a User Interface (UI) that is acceptable and engaging for all the cultures across different ethnicities and countries.
There are several ways to deliver on this requirement:
- Glocal is the way to go!
A developer needs to understand the range of his or her audience and make sure that their product is understandable to them. A thorough and well-researched UI strings translation is an absolute imperative. Once the range of users has been demographically analyzed, and their language preferences, etc. recognized, software translation must be considered. As the term suggests, software translation is the process of incorporating changes in the user interface of software according to the locale it is being catered to.
- Be creative. Don’t just translate!
EverNote, for example, was launched in China in 2012. And to make sure that it connects with the local audience, it was renamed Yinxiang Biji literally translating as Memory Note, a name that made sense to the Chinese community rather than a word to word translation of EverNote. Along with the complete translation of the app’s interface to the native language, this small yet significant change pushed the number of users to a whopping four million in a matter of months.
- Know the platforms available in your targeted locale
Other than the process of UI strings translation to the language of the locale, the market conditions should be duly considered too. Google Play, the world’s largest app distributor, for example, is not available in China. And the Chinese trust Baidu for all kinds of downloads. Developers, therefore, while designing a user interface, should keep in mind that when in China their competitors are the ones on Baidu not on Google Play.
- Be mindful of country-specific social media!
Most software, in the international market, include login integration with Facebook and Twitter. These platforms, however, do not work in all the countries. Several countries have their own local social media platforms including micro-blogging websites and messaging apps etc. Developers can garner quick attention from the targeted customer base if they keep these in mind. In China, for example, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are blocked in most areas. QZone is the top social network in this country, with 632 million active users.
- Keep it inclusive
The success of software translation, itself, depends on thorough market research. Other than the UI string translation to local languages, the symbols and icons must also be designed keeping local cultural sensitivity in mind. The internationally recognized “Thumbs Up” gesture, for example, can be quite offensive in Greece, Middle East, and Australia too. A savvy developer, who has done the necessary market research, therefore, should replace this with a more neutral smiley emoticon or a shining star may be.
The millions of software and tools being used on this network struggle to be liked by users from different preferences and the right kind of research and consideration in the design of the interface can help developers make their product familiar and friendly to this international audience.