World domination, one language at a time!
Ok, so maybe world domination isn’t our actual goal, but the localization of our product is a really important part of enabling our tool to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, all over the globe.
To make Easy LMS accessible to as many people as possible, we want to make it available in as many languages as possible. The result is twofold: clients are happy, and when clients are happy they use our product, which makes us happy.
Where did we begin?
As a Dutch company, we started by making our products available in Dutch and English. We thought we’d see if we could be an alternative to US companies and serve the non-English speaking market. So we added German next, to see if it affected conversion rates. When that went well, we decided to add additional European languages to capture even more of the market. Since then, we’ve added more and more languages, as our clients have requested them.
What languages do we offer?
As Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
Our clients have the option of using our tool in 10 different languages
Our clients have the option of using our tool in 10 different languages, meaning our dashboard is functional in 10 languages. In case you’re curious, our top five dashboard languages (in order) are English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and French!
For end-users, tests can be taken in 24 different languages: from Arabic to Russian, Chinese to Japanese, Hebrew to Greek. We’re pretty proud of that coverage!
Who does the translations?
Since we’re a small company, it’s simply not feasible to have in-house translators like a lot of big organizations do. So we have an awesome team of freelance translators that work with us on an ongoing basis. They’re based all around the world and are invaluable to us. We give them the freedom, flexibility, and trust to use their skills as they see fit. We rely on them to know their audience, country, and people best. For example, our German clients prefer a more formal approach, so our translator adapted to that.
How do we manage a freelance team?
We use Upwork, a global freelancing platform, to hire and communicate with our translators.
We also built our own translation tool
We also built our own translation tool. Each translator has access to a dashboard for their language, where they can view the original source English, and directly enter their translations. All the content (more or less) gets managed in one place.
Anyone that has experience with localization knows that one of the most difficult issues for translators is context. It’s all very well seeing words, but where and how are they used? Is that a verb or a noun? We communicate regularly with the team and make ourselves available to answer any queries as quickly as we can, by providing explanations and screenshots. Each translator also has a demo Easy LMS account available to them to play around with, so they can see themselves where their translations are used, and how things fit together.
In the last couple of years, we’ve made improvements to make life easier for our translators, and to cut out manual work, making the whole process more efficient. We built some automation to enable translators to see what’s new or updated in the translation tool, so they can see at a glance what they need to work on. The same automation enabled new labels to be available for translation earlier in our development process. That was a win for the translators, us, and our clients!
We’re continually trying to up our game
As with anything, there’s always room for improvement. We’re continually trying to up our game.
We deploy new features and fixes all the time. Where releases used to be every few weeks, and then two times a week, now we deploy as soon as we’ve completed something. We’ve achieved single item flow. This means that users of our tool with non-English accounts often find features online that are missing translations. We know that’s not ideal. The article “How to survive multilingual continuous delivery” by Anouk Perquin provides food for thought: it’s a balance between speed and quality. Achieving that balance is our holy grail. Not long ago, our test languages weren’t even maintained. Now, both dashboard and test languages are regularly maintained: each translator tries to keep our product up-to-date (at least) every two weeks.
Another area we haven’t covered yet is the quality control of our translations. Of course, when we interview new translators we check out their experience and knowledge, especially with software translation, and evaluate their references and credentials. Beyond that, we have no formal review step in place. We rely largely on feedback from clients. This feedback is highly valued, and we act on it.
You can check out the language provision of our tool yourself, we’re totally open to your feedback and ideas. If your language is missing, please let us know! We'd love to add it to the system and allow more people to benefit from the use of our tool in that language 😁.