Unlike social media, translation management systems are niche professional software. But without them, the Internet wouldn't be what it is now. These unique systems make multicultural communication technically feasible, thereby connecting the corners of our world in the most seamless ways. In this article, I'm starting to share my experience of using one of such systems - CrowdIn.
Being a CrowdIn user for over 4 years, I have stories to tell and impressions to share. Since 2019, it has transitioned from a relatively basic translation tool into a powerful platform. In 2023 it boasts numerous integrations, making it a centralized hub for content localization. And by content, I mean anything from promo banners to mobile application user interfaces. As a localization manager, I genuinely value these things:
The simplicity of the user interface
Fantastic help from customer support
Concise user documentation
In this series of posts, I'll share useful tips and tricks for maximizing your CrowdIn subscription benefits. If you're uncertain about which translation management system to select for your business, I hope this content will make your decision-making process easier.
Content is the king
If you are a software development company, you likely use various types of content to communicate with your users. This includes marketing content, which can range from banners to social media posts to App Store pages. Additionally, you may send promotional or transactional emails, SMS messages, or push notifications to your users.
Your product contains numerous lines of text. Some of them originate from your code (front-end and back-end), while others are sourced from third-party services. Some may include placeholders or URLs, and some may have various translations depending on the sentence structure. (see "pluralization").
You may have additional resources, such as user documentation, knowledge base articles, or FAQs that require translation. This will enable non-English speaking users to receive assistance, even if your customer support services are only available in English.
What's crucial for all these kinds of content? The answer is consistent communication. It means that your critical terms, such as feature names, account statuses, screen names, and Core Concepts, share standardized translations across marketing, product, and user assistance content. This ensures that there is no confusion for the user throughout their entire user journey.
Consistency involves communicating with users in their preferred language. It is important to establish a specific set of content to use when interacting with users and ensure that it is available in their language. Whether you are investing in acquiring and retaining English-speaking users or converting them, it is equally important to do the same for non-English speaking users. Ultimately, revenue is revenue, regardless of its source.
Why am I pointing this out before even touching the ground with CrowdIn? Because understanding the scope and the purpose of the content is a foundation of localization work itself. What do you want to localize and why? Your localization strategy depends on these fundamental questions.
As a tool, CrowdIn can cater to your strategy regardless of how humble or ambitious it is. I've seen large organizations utilize it for managing millions of words, hundreds of visuals, complex user interfaces, and the vast majority of technical documentation. And I've seen small startups who are just starting their localization journey successfully launch their first languages while using basic CrowdIn subscriptions. CrowdIn supports over 300 file formats and hundreds of connectors from the box. Such problems as getting content into the system merely don't exist. The same is true for terminology and consistency: you can set up a Glossary for each language and prohibit saving translations if they don't match the official Glossary translation.
It's not only about knowing the specific terms. When dealing with different languages, don't forget they all have their own grammar structure and unique linguistic traits. Many languages have different pluralization rules for nouns and adjectives depending on their quantity. CrowdIn handles pluralization elegantly in its translation interface. And not just this. The overall UI is easy to navigate for anyone involved in the localization process: managers, translators, developers, and designers.
Behind the scenes
Although translation may appear straightforward at first glance, localization is actually a multi-step process with numerous factors to consider in order to achieve a high-quality result that can be presented to your users. There are tasks to be managed, context to be provided, machine translation to be generated (or avoided), costs to be estimated and monitored, and constant communication between people creating and translating the content. One way or another, all of these things happen in CrowdIn. And the result is worth it.
One small example: You can synchronize your Figma board with a project in CrowdIn and export translations back to Figma when they're ready. Or you can set up an integration with your GitHub repo and push and pull strings every hour if you want. And while working on translations, translators can chat with your design or development team members in the comments section of CrowdIn UI. This is the fastest way of exchanging context information I've ever witnessed.
Another thing that amazes me about CrowdIn is how budget-focused it is. There is a large section related to cost management that allows you to keep your budgets clean and payments fair. Every translated word is recorded, every cent is counted, and you always know how much you spent on a given task, file, or project.
Your first steps in CrowdIn
Probably the best thing about the system is that it does not scare you off after you just landed. You start with small steps:
Import your content (source files);
Select your target languages;
Get your strings translated;
Exporting your translated files.
Everything else can be fine-tuned to your specific workflow, technology stack, and portfolio of third-party applications -- but it's all built on top of this cycle. Four years ago when I started using CrowdIn, it honestly lacked a lot of functionality. But now, it has become a versatile "swiss knife" that provides solutions for specific needs. And if you lack some specific functionality, there's always an app for it or a workaround from the customer support team. Some heroes don't wear capes, like those helping me with stuff in CrowdIn every day.
So if you're just planning to expand your business to multilingual markets, or evaluating TMSs for your localization program, check out CrowdIn.
And if you want to make the most of your subscription, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for consultation.