Make your product “translation worthy,” and the world will follow

Want to know if your software is something special? See if your users will translate it. In doing so you get a sense of how they view your product and where to take it next.

When a software company asks me if I think its new product will succeed globally, I typically respond by asking: Is your product translation worthy? In other words, are people eager to voluntarily translate your app or website into their language?

This phenomenon is commonly known as “translation crowdsourcing,” and a number of familiar names have relied on the kindness of strangers to take their products and websites global—companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. When a website or software application is so appealing to users around the world that they will help translate it—for free—the odds are quite good that the product will succeed globally.

Google, in its early years, relied largely on volunteer translators to help take its search engine interface from one to more than 100 languages. Today, Google relies on the crowd to comment on the quality of its machine translation engine, creating a virtuous cycle of content improvements.

In 2009, conference company TED opened up the translation of its recorded talks to the crowd. It initially seeded the effort with professionally translated talks into 20 languages. But once the crowd took over the number of languages supported rose quickly. Today, TED offers more than 50,000 translated talks across more than 100 languages. The leading volunteer translators have translated more than 1,000 talks each.


And then there is Facebook, one of the most successful examples of translation crowdsourcing.

In 2007…

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Posted on June 8, 2014 in Field of translation

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