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Content localization and translation

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When operating in more regions, serving localized content is crucial to build better relationships with your regional audience.

Not all content is applicable in all cases. An insurance company shouldn't offer an English-only content when coming to a Spanish-speaking market. Similarly, car brands can have offerings in many regions using the same language, yet each dealership has different promotions and deals. In many cases, it's a combination of both.

The first example is about translation, the second is about localization. These two usually go together hand-in-hand, but they're not the same. Together, they're the key to your global reach.

In this article, you'll find out what's the difference between localization and translation, as well as how to tackle both successfully in Kontent.ai.

Table of contents

    Key points

    • Localization and translation are two very different yet interconnected ways of adjusting content for your local audience. 
    • Content item variants are a versatile way to adjust content for different languages, regions, or both.
    • You can extend Kontent.ai with third-party translation services that use human, machine, or hybrid translation.
    • Manual translation is available in Kontent.ai out of the box.
    • After you set up regional content, go through your role, workflow, and collection settings to ensure they're still valid. 

    Localization vs. translation – what's the difference?

    Translation ensures people understand your content language-wise, while localization ensures the content evokes the intended idea and emotions.

    Translation

    The act of translation is converting content from one language to another while keeping the exact meaning of the original.

    Keeping the same meaning, however, doesn't necessarily mean that it conveys the same message. Take idioms and colloquialisms. In English, when you say something's a piece of cake, you mean it's easy. That's an idiom, you're not really talking about sweet pastry, are you? 

    When you translate such an idiom word-by-word to other languages, it'll sound weird, at best. Most probably, native speakers won't know you meant at all.

    Localization

    This is when localization comes into play. Localization is a lot more complex than “simple” translation. When you localize content, you not only translate it, but you also take care of the idioms and other cultural aspects. A result of good localization sounds natural and makes sense to the target audience. 

    When localizing content, you need to convert idiomatic phrases and colloquialisms to the target language while keeping the voice and tone of the original text. 

    If an original English content uses a US political reference that makes people chuckle, a Japanese audience probably wouldn't appreciate the joke. Localization means finding a similar reference that'll evoke the same feeling in the target audience, as did the original reference evoke in the original audience.

    Fun fact about emojis in localization

    Even emojis need to be localized. In the Western culture, people commonly use a smiling emoji to express happy smile: 🙂 

    However, if one sends such an emoji to their contact in China, it won't be met with a warm reaction. Reportedly, people in China perceive this emoji as an expression of fake smile or even despise. To express a genuine smile, laughing emoji with narrow eyes is better-advised: 😄

    Content localization and organization

    The most efficient tool for localization in Kontent.ai are content item variants. They're designed for content localization. If you (also) need to divide your content based on other criteria, collections are most likely suitable for you. 

    Content for different regions

    One of the perks of variants is that the content structure inside them doesn't need to be the same. They're based on the same content types, but they can contain different linked items or components.

    For example, when your Japanese market has a holiday, you can adjust your content for the holiday only in the Japanese content item variants. For this use case, you can create a variant of your home page. It will have the same structure as other markets in general, but each variant works with the content on its own. 

    You can, for example, use components built for changing the webpage layout specifically for one market.

    Diagram of a layout modeled with a voice and tone

    When changing the layout, model it semantically like voice and tone

    Each variant goes through the workflow on its own. With this, you can track translations in different languages, schedule the start of promotion in different regions to different dates or times, or just see which market or branch has the content already adjusted and published.

    Combine localization with collections

    In specific situations, using collections can be more suitable for content grouping. If you have multiple departments in your company, the preferred way is to set up collections for them. Collections allow people in the departments to filter only content relevant to them. You can also limit who can access content in which collection.

    You can combine content item variants with collections. With that, create multiregional content within multiple departments.

    Think about your usage of collections and variants when you configure roles, workflows, and users in your project.

    Create languages in Kontent.ai

    Now that you know what multiregional requirements you have, create the languages, regions, or different segments as languages in Kontent.ai.

    You can limit language access for each user. Limited language access helps content creators to only focus on what they need to work with.

    Remember, that Project managers have access to all the languages. Think about what role each user needs to have and assign permissions based on their work requirements.

    After you set up your languages, we recommend you go through your project's roles, workflows, and collections, and verify that they still apply. For instance, introducing localization into a project typically leads to adding new workflow steps.

    Localize your content

    If you're expanding or already operating in different countries or language regions, you can use Kontent.ai for your multilingual requirements. Both automated and manual translations are available with Kontent.ai.

    Automated translations

    Kontent.ai is extensible with any third-party translation service that has an API. You can connect both human and machine translation services.

    For this, create a dedicated workflow step, for example, Translation. The step will serve as a trigger for the automatic translation process. The content will be sent for translation and the variants will be updated with translated content.

    Technical examples of integrating automated translations

    The following articles describe how to translate content using Microsoft’s Translator Text Cognitive Service automatically without anyone needed to copy and paste any content.

    Manual translations

    Kontent.ai is prepared out of the box for manual translations. When creating a variant in a non-default language, you can prefill it with the content from the original variant and then adjust it. Alternatively, you can open two browser windows, each with one language variant, and translate that way.

    You can use variants' workflow steps to track every language's status separately.

    What's next?

    Incorporating translated or regional content completes the whole process of preparation for collaboration and the main changes to the content model, collections, roles, workflows. The next step is to focus on the actual team collaboration among content creators.