Editor’s note: This is a sponsored article, which means it’s independently written by our editorial team but financially supported by another organisation, in this case, Transifex.
At some point, every startup with a reasonable level of ambition faces the question of bringing its product to the customer audiences outside its home country. Going global — or at least Europe-wide as a first step — is a crucial step for a growing business and requires a lot of work and resources. If you look at our funding news coverage on tech.eu, you'll see that significant portions of investments raised by European startups are usually earmarked for international expansion.
One of the most important parts in expanding to new markets is localisation. With all the languages spoken across Europe, this task requires planning and strategy. It turns out that, for example, 61 percent of French consumers and 58 percent of German consumers prefer to make purchases in their native language. Moreover, in these and other countries about a third of consumers are least comfortable making purchases in English.
“Imagine your next customer doesn’t feel comfortable using a platform that only comes in English,” said Dimitris Glezos, CEO and founder of Transifex. “Do you disregard the new market? Or scramble to localise using outdated methods?”
Here's a brief overview of what to have in mind when approaching a localisation project.
How not to localise
The reality of translation and localisation solutions for the web has changed dramatically over the past decade, but some anti-patterns just don’t seem to go away.
Back in the early and mid-2000s, a big part of website localisation was done via spreadsheets, which meant a lot of inefficient, time-intensive, and bulky manual work. You'd have the text to be translated in the rows and different languages as columns, with the translation team filling the document out slowly and painfully.
Surprisingly, some companies are still using spreadsheets for translation purposes — in most cases as a legacy system that no takes the time to upgrade. However, anyone who has used this method knows that it can quickly become a nightmare to manage.
Being essentially a static solution to a dynamic problem, as Transifex put it, spreadsheet-based translation leaves too much space for human error and requires lots of manual work that can and should be automated.
The better way
Dimitris Glezos founded Transifex to provide a better way to localise The company, which already works with customers like Trello, Eventbrite, Waze, and SoundCloud, offers an agile centralised platform for translation of web or app content.
“Transifex helps manage a process which was previously pretty painful to manage and allows a growing company to scale with efficiency to bring their product to new markets faster,” Glezos said.
The core of the Transifex platform is the cloud-based Global Content Repository where the translated content is stored and from where it syncs to the actual websites or apps. Transifex offers a wide range of integration possibilities, from WordPress to GitHub, to become an integral part of the development process.
For content-heavy sites and apps that have frequent updates, Transifex also offers a file-based solution, which works best if you want to host your translations yourself. This also allows for a high degree of localisation automation.
Both ways allow you to work with any number of translators, from an in-house team of a few people to a crowdsourcing project with thousands of collaborators. All of them work side-by-side, syncing their work to the Global Content Repository to be checked, approved, and published. If you haven't found translators yet, Transifex has a network of vetted translation partners working on its platform.
How is Transifex different?
There are dozens of translation management systems (TMS) on the market, so differentiation is key. The way Transifex approaches this is by being more developer-friendly than the rest of the pack and by offering a place to store content, allowing for a uniquely continuous localisation process.
The Global Content Repository allows for continuous localisation, which means creating a seamless and highly-automated process for uploading, translating, and publishing content. In addition to that, the system is future-proof and ready for advances in machine translation technologies.
“Machine translation is taking more and more of the heavy-lifting of the translation process from humans. If this is the future of localisation — Transifex is ready for it,” said Glezos.