By Jen Horner
Most e-learning clients only think about translation and localization after they’ve already designed a course in English. If you are working with a global client, ask them ahead of time whether they expect to eventually translate the course. Designing with localization in mind will save your clients time and money.
Here are issues that e-learning designers can address during the development and authoring stage in order to make localization easier later.
- Provide white space. Everybody talks about the importance of white space, so it shouldn’t surprise you that it’s important for localization also. Many languages expand in translation. Italian, Spanish, French, and German all require 20-30% more words and characters than English, and if there is no room for it to expand, visuals may need to be redesigned.
- Be careful of fonts. Minimizing font variation reduces the cost of integration. If you are using special fonts, the localization team may need access to the licenses (more about fonts here). The best strategy for creating a localization-friendly project is to supply a version of the module that uses the fonts included in the authoring tool. This simplifies things a lot.
- Limit audio syncs. The number of audio syncs and the complexity of the animations bear a direct relationship to integration costs. A voiceover in a different language will require re-syncing of the on-screen animation. In addition to the text expansion issue, differences in syntax can require rearranging the visuals. If your client wants a complicated animation scheme, ask them: are all your audio syncs really necessary? Tell them that they will save money later if they keep it simple now.
- Add cue points. To make it easier for localizers to re-sync the audio with the animation, each file should contain all the necessary animation-audio syncs as cue points in the timeline. Although they are not necessary for the animations to function, cue points provide a single point of reference for integrators and lessen the likelihood for error.
- Avoid unlabeled layers and objects.It’s very frustrating during localization to come across things like “untitled layer-1” because their role in the module is not clear. By using descriptive titles for objects and layers you make it easier for integrators to find editable content more quickly and efficiently.
- Never embed text in images. Translators use tools to draw out the translatable text and re-integrate the translated version into the e-learning platform. If text is embedded, the text is “stuck” and the graphics will need to be re-designed in a desktop publishing software like InDesign or Photoshop.
Understanding localization and being able to recommend a translation partner are both competencies that your clients will appreciate. For more information about translating and localizing e-learning content, here is a selection of posts from the MTM LinguaSoft blog.