Localization considerations in Sitecore

We’re working with a few organizations that have country sites on their roadmap. Leveraging a Sitecore implementation for multi-site usage is a fairly-common business need. In our use cases, we’re helping both organizations refactor their content models to support enterprise content vs. localized content, and building out a standardized set of presentation options. At the end of the day, the business stakeholders can provision new country web tenets without the need of development assistance. Site structure (layouts, sublayouts, components) and brand standards are consistent across sites. Country level content managers have the autonomy to add/update content for their country sites with shared corporate content where applicable. 

A FEW THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Consider the difference between a country site vs. a site that has multi-lingual options. Some organizations are centralized enough that a single, multi-lingual site meets the business needs. Other organizations need country specific content with multi-lingual requirements. As an example, a typical Canada country site requires English and French languages. 

Consider the effort associated with translation and language fallbacks. It’s not uncommon for sites to launch with a partial translation of the popular content with a backlog list of deeper content. With Sitecore 8.1, we now have a language fallback option, where non-translated content will render in the default language. 

Consider what fields should be multi-lingual ready; as not all fields should. Sitecore has versioned, unversioned and shared versioning options at the field level. Product SKU and product image fields are typically unversioned, as that content doesn’t change based on the language. Product usage images, on the other hand, may change. A product usage scene in France may look very different to the same product usage in the US. In that scenario we may localize the page copy and imagery to the country. 

Consider translation options and the workflow process around options. Regardless of whether translation is managed internally or outsourced to a service, we’ll need to wrap a workflow around the process. For heavier translation needs we may consider a CMS connector like Clay Tablet. 

And, please – don’t use machine translation just yet. With machine learning, the results are bound to improve. But, we’re not there yet. Let’s use two short sentences from Bloomin’ Brands’ website. “In our business everything matters. Every meal we serve tells our story.” Translate that to German and back to English with machine translation, and you get “Everything is important in our business. Every meal we serve tells our story.” While that’s a technically accurate translation, the nuance of the messaging is off. 

A well-executed localization strategy presents the brand in the context of the market we’re in, and extends well beyond just language.