Companies that fail to internationalize their web applications at an early stage often miss out on big opportunities. With China having recently passed the US in terms of total web users and European online advertising revenue rising 40% annually, it is absolutely crazy to ignore international markets. It constantly amazes me how many successful US web app companies wait too long to localize their applications to Chinese, Japanese and European locales and end up conceding these large lucrative markets to local copycats. LinkedIn is a perfect example of a company that really missed the boat in terms of Asia and Europe because they took too long to localize to these markets. I wonder if this was due to technical challenges arising from their application not being properly internationalized (i.e. designed for localization) or a lack of foresight on the part of management. It doesn't take an enormous amount of effort to do proper internationalization of an application if you keep it in mind from the start. To ensure our new ooi social platform is properly internationalized, we are doing simultaneous UI development in Chinese and Japanese. This forces us to deal with two complex locales from the start. This approach ensures English only assumptions don't creep in during the development process. I estimate the total overhead of the internationalization and localization work will be less than 10% of the overall development and Q&A costs. 10% more effort will give us access to more than twice as many users. In terms of cost / benefit, its a no-brainer!
- Design • Build • Localize | Web • Desktop • Mobile