Developing Multilingual Content: Making Sure It’s a Good Fit
Here are some suggestions about localization that I’ve shared with my clients in helping them get multilingual websites successfully off the ground. I used to think these points were obvious, but by now I’ve worked with businesses who did it all backwards, and suffered the consequences. Conclusion: Following these pointers saves a lot of time, and helps to create a better end product.
- Translate with care. If you translate a site, it may be necessary to shrink or expand the translated text to meet the design needs of your site. English text can be as much as 30% longer than Hebrew texts − just as an example. It may be better to hire a marketing writer for each language translation rather than using a professional translator, since you will want to maintain the feel of the source text while simultaneously shrinking or expanding the length of the translation, to make it fit.
- Go easy on your readers. Don’t frustrate your visitors − make it easy for them to find what they want. BBC is a classic example of implementing this type of thinking: Knowing the needs of their readers, they’ve put the weather forecast on the top right corner of their home page. Frequently, all a visitor needs is your contact information; put that on your home page.
- Tell your story. This one comes straight from social media guru Kimanzi Constable (see www.kimanziconstable.com), who gave a great session at WordCamp Jerusalem last week. Make sure you’re providing clear messaging. Anyone who visits the site should easily understand what services you offer. The About page is usually the most visited page on a site (besides the home page), so be sure it does a good job of telling your company’s story, explains why you’re the best, and prominently displays your contact details.
- Choose your template first. If you’re creating a site from scratch, select your template before you start writing. This way, you create content that matches the design of the page, optimizing the look and feel of the site. For example, the template determines how much text is needed for the home page and what is visible above the fold.
- SEO comes last. I don’t mean to minimize the importance of SEO. But I personally find it impossible to write new content very well, while trying to use SEO terms. Instead, I suggest first putting together solid content, and integrating SEO terms afterward by massaging and playing with the text. For multilingual sites, optimizaton strategies need to be adapted and tested in each language.
- QA your site. Your programmer or graphic designer won’t pick up on errors in the French or German. Have a native speaker check the content has been integrated successfully. Sometimes, copy/paste leads to some interesting errors. Hyperlinks and any right-to-left issues are also potential pitfalls. Graphics and logos raise interesting challenges, as well, as you may discover embedded, English-language text that wasn’t noticed in the development stage.
January 31, 2013
Where Has the Time Gone? Corporate Productivity in an Age of Information Overload
“How did it get so late so soon?”
― Dr. Seuss
You can’t thwart the social media bug. It’s an essential, not a nice-to have. But how do we reconcile two seemingly conflicting needs: Being constantly online and responsive, and actually getting our work done. Can we embrace social media while minimizing its cost to productivity?
Confession: I’ve been experimenting with a basic technique that treats minutes like calories, and integrates social media and Internet usage into a healthy and productive work environment.
The basic concept is to alternate periods of intense work with regularly defined breaks, an iterative approach promoted by the Pomodoro Technique. (To read more, see:
http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/) The goal is to leverage social media and be available in real-time, without getting lost in cyberspace. Four steps:
1. Create Tasks
Question: How long can I really concentrate on a productive activity?
The idea is to think about the amount of time that you can successfully work on a given activity without allowing yourself the luxury of internal interruption such as social media, or external interruption such as incoming phone calls.
For me, 45 minutes to an hour is generally my maximum. I don’t try to fight that.
2. Schedule Breaks between Tasks
Question: How much time do I spend answering emails and surfing the Internet?
Scheduled breaks are crucial to the success of this system. The breaks are the “down time” for checking email and social media or surfing the Internet. Each break lasts about 15 minutes.
Anticipating a break frees of me of the constant, nagging feeling that I might be missing something online. I can work for up to an hour without stopping constantly to check email.
The breaks also provide a framework for being online and responsive throughout the day.
3. Make a List
Question: What do I expect to accomplish today?
It sounds dumb, but this has a vast impact on my productivity levels. On days when I bother to write down what I expect to accomplish, I tend to complete those tasks. On days when I start work without defining goals, I can easily end my day still half-way through task one – but having done plenty of things in between.
The trick to the to-do list is to make it reasonable. It’s likely that three or four tasks, each one taking no more than an hour, is the maximum one might practically expect to finish in a day.
4. Manage Interruptions
How can I get any work done if I’m constantly interrupted?
The most effective way to complete a task within a defined period is to disconnect. In extreme cases, I might turn off my phone or (gasp!) block my Internet connection.
Some tasks require browsing and do not allow me the luxury of disconnecting completely. In that case, I keep myself plugged in, but turn off social media outlets and email.
For those who are shocked at the mere thought, keep in mind that I don’t allow myself to remain disconnected for more than an hour, when I am entitled to a well-earned, scheduled break.
Time management used to fall into that same dreary category of unattainable habits as consistent bedtime routines for the kids, or daily homework habits − at least for me. But in 2013, I’ve come to the conclusion that time management on the Internet has become more significant.
Some of these techniques may be instinctive, but applying them to the work environment is a new, learned behavior. As our use of social media platforms continues to grow, an awareness of how we are integrating our time online with “regular” work can put extra hours back into the work day.
January 30, 2012
Prezi in Hebrew
Prezi does not support Hebrew, but you can get around that if you’re willing to go through a couple of hoops.
The easiest option is to use the following Prezi, kindly made by Lior Paz, which has already been set up to support Hebrew fonts: http://prezi.com/vurekz8erkzy/hebrew-fonts/ You can make your own copy of it and just modify the text, like a template.
If you have your own Prezi with graphics that you want to use, and you prefer not to use the template, you can modify the CSS file of any Prezi by yourself to support Hebrew, as follows:
- Open Prezi.
- Open up the CSS file. I read online that I should be able to do this with CNTRL + C, but it didn’t work when I tried it. You can also open the CSS by going into Colors & Fonts/Theme Wizard/Manual/Use the Prezi CSS editor.
- Change the CSS. The new, correct text for your CSS can be copied from: http://www.maxi-site.com/prezi
When you type in Hebrew, the text appears backwards. This is terribly inconvenient. You can use this program to flip the text to be right to left: http://www.pixiesoft.com/flip/ This probably sounds crazy, but I found it to be less cumbersome and more efficient to manually type backwards (meaning that the text was written correctly in a Word doc open on my laptop screen, and I’d refer to that while typing backwards in Prezi on a second screen).
September 15, 2011
This article first appeared as a guest post on one of my favorite blogs for job seekers, www.jobmob.co.il.
Social media has radically altered the process of job hunting. If you’re looking for work and haven’t been converted yet by social media evangelists, perhaps the time has come.
Job seekers today need to leverage the opportunities inherent in the new Web; to ignore it is to miss out on what is, potentially, your most powerful job seeking tool.
Consider the case of a friend of mine who moved from the U.S. to Israel a few years back.
At the time, according to job placement gurus, it took about 6 to 9 months for the average professional to find a good job. But my friend’s experience was different:
Prior to her move, she used Facebook and built up a large network of friends. She shared with her friends lots of information about her personal and professional life, so that they became aware of her skill set and accomplishments, and they all knew that she was moving and looking for a job.
Within two weeks of the move, my friend was already working. She’d had job offers even before she’d packed her bags – all through Facebook.
If you relate to the Web purely functionally – the way you might relate, perhaps, to a microwave or telephone – think again.
Web 2.0 is an entire culture, or perhaps counterculture, with an almost-messianic philosophy and a bombastic language all its own.
The 10 basic tenets of social media
So important to your job hunt, these tenets can be roughly described as follows:
Web 2.0 is about mass collaboration, cooperation and participation.
Down with upper management and the dictatorial boss; up with conversation, micro-contributions and mutual assistance based on trust.
Social networks, blogs, wikis, mashups and RSS feeds leverage collective intelligence and encourage the exchange of ideas across networks, facilitating problem solving through sharing.
For example, recently Skype went down and Twitter was overflowing with people tweeting about the problem, until Skype joined the conversation (on Twitter) and told everyone how to fix it. The entire computer-savvy world was on a massive, multiplayer chat.
This same professional collaboration can help all of us find our next job. For example, I can contribute directly to my professional community by developing a blog or Twitter feed, thus establishing a sterling reputation and building contacts that open new doors.
While traditional business models rely on a vertical power hierarchy, online social networks are inherently horizontal.
Mass collaboration is developed through effective interaction across all levels of corporate structures, and centralized power is being challenged and replaced by increasingly powerful networks.
This summer, a Facebook group protested the price of cottage cheese in Israel and triggered a response from local dairy industry “tycoons,” who lowered prices.
Facebook tells me I’m the 43,435th member to join this group, though news sites claim it already has over 100,000 followers (perhaps multiple groups have the same agenda).
These same networks mean that I can directly contact the CEO of a company that’s growing and express my interest in being interviewed for a job. I no longer need the HR department to call me, in order to make contact.
The new Web diffuses power towards the edges of society, uncovering and releasing the voice of the individual.
For example, collaborative filtering allows consumers themselves to review products, making the role of professional critics redundant. Consumers transact directly with suppliers; there’s no need for a “middle man.”
In the political sphere, social networking opens up new possibilities for civil participation, as seen in revolutions all over the Middle East this year.
On job sites, there is a constant exchange of information that directly helps job seekers learn about opportunities.
For example, I’ve seen a job site for engineers, which maintains an online database of interview questions. The questions are categorized according to company name. Engineers who go to job interviews post the questions they were asked, paying it forward and helping the next engineer to come to the interview better prepared.
Much like a college fraternity or local synagogue, an online network leads to real-world relationships, opportunities – and, of course, job offers.
The majority of us find our jobs through the extended connections of our community networks.
According to Fraser and Dutta, social networks function like the Chinese concept of Guanxi – business relationships that work like an extended family or clan.
But it’s not just about business.
The online community is changing our personal lives, too. My kids never use email; they go on Facebook to see if their friends are getting together tonight.
Personal identities in cyberspace are invented and role playing is less constrained by traditional social codes.
Individuals have multiple identities and sometimes, the truth is blurred.
If you aren’t comfortable with your true identity, create a new one; if you don’t have friends, “Fakebook” – invent them. We create who we want our virtual selves to be.
If you’re looking for work, it may be helpful to actively create and develop an online professional identity that puts your best foot forward for all the virtual world to see.
The most successful networking sites have an open-door approach.
A network, in order to work, needs a critical mass. To understand this, consider the introduction of the telephone at the end of the 19th century. Until the phone became popular, it was not significant; it didn’t become life-changing until a majority of individuals owned a phone.
As a job hunter, the sheer size of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter helps me successfully connect with almost any company or organization that interests me.
If I stay abreast of business news, I can read about the growth of a particular company in the newspaper and then proactively track down any contacts of mine who work there. In this way, I can actually find out about jobs before they’ve even been advertised.
In the age of social media, traditional ideas of privacy have been challenged.
We’re putting our most personal information “out there” for all to see and, frequently, the personal and the professional clash.
Your online presence follows you wherever you go; cyberspace makes no distinction between public and private life. To quote a friend: “It took me 3 seconds to find my son’s girlfriend’s cell phone number online – not to mention the shocking pictures of them kissing.”
Compromising information on the Internet definitely affects professional success; for proof, look no further than Rep. Anthony Weiner’s recent Twitter scandal.
Because our society is so Google-based, it is increasingly necessary to manage online reputations and control what information we want a potential boss, customer or business partner to see.
If you’re looking for a job, Google yourself and see what comes up. You might be surprised.
Be comforted, however, that you can usually manage your online reputation fairly successfully using basic strategies such as creating a personal website, setting up profiles on social media sites and utilizing SEO.
In cyberspace, status is not assigned, it is earned. There is a democratization of status online, because status is based on facts that attest to expertise and effectiveness.
In the real world, in contrast, status is organized based on a vertical system of values.
The old business models leave the power in the hands of “management.” Web 2.0 models involve a loosening of power, allowing employees and customers alike to contribute. It’s a system based on expanded participation, which requires a new degree of trust.
Web 2.0 is a revolution. The effects of the new Web can be compared, perhaps, with the 15th century social, political and economic transformations triggered by the invention of the printing press, which absolutely changed the way we work.
Social media is changing the way we communicate and connect and, therefore, it’s shifting how we think, build and evolve.
In today’s market, social media is absolutely essential to finding work.
If you aren’t using these tools already, you will need to master them, since the alternative may soon be akin to illiteracy. And since the pace of life is way faster now than it ever was, it might be time to jump on the social media wagon and hang on for Second Life.
This article is based on Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom by Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta