@media 2006: Internationalization awakening the sleeping giant Molly Holzschlag

June 16 , 2006


Molly Holzschlag

How many of you are working on sites that are being recreated for internationalization?

Tons of hands went up…

In 1993 when I came to the web I already had the experience going on BBS and seen

live chat in the late 80s on the consumer service. On commodore 64.
And I was absolutely fascinated and could talk to people all around the world growing small.
I wanted that it fascinated me that the passion and interests has nothing to do w/the kind
of abilities and it is very centris to western culture

How many people blog on a normal basis?

I tell you an amazing experience to be able to be a human being to say this is who I am.
it is not out of technical or practical experience it is about passion about what the web truly means to us all
an the www is in fact a global thing. That this is my perspective that I am not the expert.
Fortunately we have Richard for that.


The benefits of internationalization:
Understanding internationalization
Web standards and internationalization

Purchase power

users are three (3) times more liekly to buy a product when they are addressed in their
own language
I fyou can tell this person you can sell this and have it in a better result but
in many other ways respective of their cultures.

Customer Service

Customer service costs drop when instructions are displayed in a user’s native language

I didn’t understand the manual. In the culture that we are trying to represent.

increased revenue:

One large IT company discovered that a significatnt precentage of inquires were
coming from South Korea 0 they created a Korean website and revenues rose by 8 percent.
Interest In Middle East On How To Internationalization

We are starting to see the social and biz cases to see it makes sense.

better user experience

proper i18n creates a much better user experience. And, we all know a
better user experience maens a happier user, and a happier user
means one that will find value via you site.


the design and devlopement of a product, application or document content
that enables easly localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region,
or language

It is a broad stroke for the ideologies whether technical or design how we
approach cultures in the ways they express themselves

  • Encourages design and development that removes barriers to local and international access
  • Is somethimes refferes to as globalization
  • Provides techlogy for features that facilitate local and international access:
  • bi-directional (bidi)text
  • language identification
  • vertical text
  • non-Latin typography
  • Provides tehcnology for features relating to local, regional, lanugage or culturally related concerns: date/time formats
  • calendar localization
  • number formants & numeral systems

Our job is to anticipate for a specific audience. Claendar not everyone is working on our calendar. Not all of our formats when we are looking at internationalization.

We have to be aware of things

Separates local content form main content so that localized alternatives can be loaded or selected based on user preference

  • The adaptation of a product,  application or document content to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market

it is a subset of what internationalization is

You have very interesting cultural differences and unique in Tuscon, Arizona.

Ok we are trying to hit a particular market how do I express this do I use English or Spanish or Spanglish? It is an interesting thing to use. It is cool. 40 years ago it was something else. It was the proper way .. bi-lingual a very vast cultural difference. If you want to inform inspire sell….if you want that to work you need to speak the way people understand. You are adapting your content to the local quirks of that region of that area. To go back to the idea that this is a sleeping giant. how much we have to learn about the world to expand ourselves and understand people in the way we haven’t before.


Often thought of only as a synonym for translation of the user interface and documentation,
localization is a substantially more complex issue.

Any trouble translaters?

If it isn’t a sanctioned language in the gov’t
In the US they have banned bilingual classes.
There are more spanish speaking people in the US than english….
how do you properly express terminology because you don’t have the terminology?
Its dangerous to make words because you don’t get consistent challenges
Much of the world.. US: english only. We don’t even think about this.
Particular audience. out of gate this is what you have to do.

Who is our audience?

How do we do this job if we don’t understand who or why?
We should be looking at this from the beginning

Museums have to be in many languages

I wish the US had that self respect yes that we are a multi lingual culture.
We’re not even going to teach bi-lingual language.
I was a bi-lingual technology. Because I was told I couldn’t teach it.
From my perspective it makes a lot of sense to me.


  • Site customization related to numeric, date and time formats
  • use of currency: The pound symbol in the UK is something else.
  • keyboard usage
  • symbols, icons and color
  • Making content symantec.. but really we sort of stepped away from the design value and we dont’ design things in hot pink unless you are trying to suggest certain things. Example: Red light district: what kind of image you want to give in the US but in china it is a powerful color.
  • Sensitivity to cultural perceptions in regards to language and visual images Example:Pink triangle facing down.. what is it? Means gay… Culture and culture it might change we have to be sensitive We’re not talking about translating we’re talking about including the cultural perspectives and another thing.

How does web standards and i18n

Best Practices Use structural, semantic markup Separate presentation using CSS Only about 3 or 4% following the best practices how to do something that Cameron Adams said before… and javascript is your behavior layer… that is an erroneous way because javascript can do so much more

Separate behavior via Javascript But we already know this Molly!


  • Internationalized sites rely on aspects of a document’s structural elemtns
  • Proper encoding
  • Use of language and xml:lang attributes
  • Ability to manage monolingual as well as multilingual documents
  • Where we have people speak using English and Spanish terminology

<html lang=“en”>

<meta http-quiv=“Content-Language” content=“en” />

<p the french word for <em<cat</em> is
<em lang=“fr”<chat</em>.</p>


Semantic elements

Presentational HTML can wreak havoc for localized content: Using <i>italics</li> for ideogrpahic text (such as japanese) is highly prolematic since japanese may use other forms of emphasis Slide changed…..

Semantic naming

  • Meaningful naming for class and ID values and micorformats is particularly important:
  • Presenation will change from locale to locale
  • Choose naming on fucntion rather than presenation as the function will unlikely changed based on locale

It is safer to bet that the function is less likey to change Same document, different CSS for locatization

Transcending the differences


A sytem of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and articcats that the members of a society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted form generation to generation through learning.

Cross cultural challenge

It’s very difficult for a person from one culture to understand the needs of another.
When building inernational and lcoal web sites, it’s imperative to have a relationship with
quliaified represenatittves who can adequately represent the cultural
values of the target market.

Example: WASP was redesigned by Andy we got a gift from Taiwan and China.
We got the translation of the web standards mission.
It was unstyled semantic markup.
We need to be able to read it. The text was too small.


localizing language means:

  • Using the written and spoken language for the target audience (not necessarily the locale!)
  • Using time/date formats appropriately and consistently
  • Using jargon/slang

If you want he condition of the cool in your room, please control yourself-Tokyo hotel

Guests are expected to compalin at the office between the hours of 9am and 10am each day.-Paris hotel

In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the porter-vienna hotel

If you want to use a charge card in teh business office please see the front desk on the floor 1.

We are sorry for the incontinence.-Los Angeles Hotel

Language direction influences design

We’re all interested in navigation US left to right but what happens when you don’t read that way Expansion and collapse in language translation

Colors and imagery

Different cultures respond ifferently to color and imagery. This response can be
one of awareness.If you put the image of an American football on UK.

Managing imagery

use images that are rlelevant ot the lcoale or topic
thinka bout the colorsiwthin the image
think about text in relations to teh image
ideally overlay text….

running out of time..she’s in speed mode :)

Manging color

color is a very powerful tool of persuasion
be aware of national and cultural issues as they relate to color
a culturally problematic color can sen the wrong message
when in doubt, use (just like the BBC’s i18n, l10n

Moving forward…

Recap l18n and l10n can dramatically improve expsoure and revenue
the technical and social isseus surrounding i18n and i10n are very complex

Beginning i18n and i10n of sites as early in the dev process
as possible saves money…

What can you do to help

Ensure your languages and scripts are brough to the attention of the W3C

Push for adoption of intl

check out: read the excellent resources at the W3C i18n web site

Join the W3C i18n interest group….


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