It’s common these days for companies to have offices in multiple countries, and comforting to rely on tailored eLearning experiences that maintain the company’s missions and values, regardless of which side of the world their employees are on. However it can be overwhelmingly frustrating to develop a course with the intention of getting everyone on the same page, only to later discover the situation has been made worst through misinterpretation. Content being “lost in translation” should never be an excuse for the failure of reaching learning objectives and goals, and that’s why localization plays a huge role in the design of course development. Here are 7 tips for designing an eLearning for better localization:

1. Plan ahead!

This is the most crucial point for considering localization as planning ahead can save you from costly and lengthy tasks that can easily be avoided. Whilst you may choose to engage your learner with colloquial language, familiar images and humorous videos, these components of the course won’t be received in the same manner across cultures. Try to create a course that isn’t aimed at one particular group, or where this seems appropriate, flag these sections and allow for easy adaptability. Bear in mind that specific images or videos with embedded text may not be easy to change later!

2. Make use of professional translators.

Language plays such a huge role in conveying specific meanings, and when it comes to instruction, there should be no cutting corners if you want to see effective results. It may seem like a wise idea to cut costs by making use of bilingual personnel or online translating tools, but the art of translation is a profession for a reason; to ensure the exact same message can be understood in multiple languages. You don’t want to leave your learner confused or distracted by grammatical errors.

3. Design space for different languages.

Translating aside, one of the most difficult tasks falls into the hands of the designer, as they need to take into account appropriate colour schemes, fonts, text size and interface. Furthermore, areas allocated for text may need adjusting depending on the language used. For example, Japanese characters using the same font size as English characters are narrower in nature, using less screen space. However, German and Italian translations may take up much more screen space due to word length. Try to find a happy medium, or allow for easy change that doesn’t impact surrounding elements.

4. Be aware of cultural sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity is a big one. Nothing will disengage your learners more than something offensive, plus it will look very unprofessional. Research the area the course will be completed in, including the culture and customs. Signs, symbols and colours all need to thought out carefully if they’re going to be generalized across the course as you may be surprised by the discrepancy between what is considered positive in one country, and negative or unlucky in another.

5. Allow access to support systems 

Anyone embarking on your eLearning journey should be given access to support, regardless of the country they’re in! This needn’t be as expensive as a phone support system, but you may instead choose to establish a help forum or FAQ’s page. An absence of support can discourage learners from continuing when they encounter problems or questions.

6. Keep it relevant and relatable 

If you’ve included real world scenarios and examples, make sure that your audience can relate to the story being told, and most importantly, check they are still relevant to the learning objectives in place. For example, the localization of sales should include the appropriate currency and appropriate client interactions should take into account localized customs and etiquette. This not only relates to the learner on a more personal level, but expands the professionalism of the company on a more global scale.

7.  Finalise in one language before localizing

It may be tempting to plan so far ahead that you try to cover all languages at the time of finalising course development, however this can potentially turn out to be a nightmare! Imagine your SME informing you of an error that then needs to be amended in 5 different languages, or a glitch that has now been copied over to several different courses. Perfect one course in a chosen language before localizing in others.

Once you’ve achieved an effective and engaging eLearning experience for your brand, the benefits of localization can help your course reach a broader audience, build and maintain consistent results for your client, and strengthen the company as a single global unit.