We’re living in an interconnected world, this should be no surprise. However, there is a gap between acknowledging this interconnectedness and being prepared to share your content with a global audience.

Content Globalization means your content is available to a global audience, in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways. Imagine a website that can make a Korean business executive and a Nigerian startup operator feel equally at home. But there are many moving parts to successful content globalization. Not only are the languages adapted to the locale (translation), but the information and the graphics are adapted as well (localization). This allows your message to cut across cultural boundaries.

Virtually any business that has international customers needs to keep content globalization in mind.

This is akin to creating a skeleton key that can open many doors for you. However, adapting your message to a specific locale – akin to creating a more finely-tuned key that opens more specific doors – is a process called content localization, and should be a part of your content globalization strategy. 

In fact, using a term like “skeleton key” might create problems here. It may not translate well into other languages and contexts. To make that idea more globalized, we might simply say, “a key that fits many locks.” That might ease the understanding of the message into different cultures. This is how we begin content globalization.

Content Globalization: Where to Begin?

Bruno Hermann , director of globalization and localization at The Nielsen Company , argues that simplicity is key to your content globalization strategy. You should begin by simplifying your message through content that is clear and understandable, enabling it to be translated—sometimes through machine automation–and localized.

In this way, content globalization is, “is the process of altering your business content standardized to fit the needs of multiple customer bases “

Simplification doesn’t end with generalizing your messaging. Hermann says that you must remember simplification when it comes to choosing the metrics you will be using to gauge the success of your program “via well-selected indicators and analytics that are tied to global business objectives.”

Nancy Davis Kho suggests that you must remember three factors for success:

  • repeatability
  • scalability
  • flexibility

Using our “skeleton key” as an example, changing it to “a key that fits many locks” is quicker and easier to translate into many languages than the original idiomatic expression. For scalability, imagine that, as your business and market grow, content is being generated that might all have its own problems with idiomatic expressions. This requires a system of content management at the outset that can take this into consideration. And flexibility means to expect some unexpected issues to arise in local contexts – varying access to internet and languages changing character needs and page design are two that Kho mentions – and each have unique ways to get around them.

Finally, “inclusion” should be your mantra for content globalization. From the inception of your content globalization strategy, inclusion and embracing of diversity are key values of success.


Content Globalization: Vendors

There are many organizations specializing in translating content for your global reach. Adobe and Google are a couple of the big ones, but there are many others. A great place to start looking is The EContent 100 list for companies in the “content translation, localization & globalization” category.

Content Globalization: More Resources