Ensure content for multilingual & LEP audiences is culturally-relevant, not just a word for word translation of the content developed for English speakers. This is particularly important for certain types of information, such as health-related information, but should be considered early on in the process of understanding audiences and developing websites, not after the site has been fully developed in English.
Content in other languages
What can we do to improve how global audiences and people with limited English proficiency access federal websites?
Test multilingual content / design with representative users to ensure usability and understand audience needs.
If content in other languages is provided, ensure that users can search in those languages, with accents and without, and that search results are presented in that language.
Given that resources are limited, government agencies can come together, do their research, maybe even ask the public what are the topics/issues that agencies need to make available in Spanish and other languages, and work as an unit. Once we have a list of priorities, the government as a whole, can work together and leverage each others' resources to make this happen. Maybe there's a central fund and core group of experts... more »
If you're linking to pages in English (internal or external) from content in another language, notify the users that this is the case using the in-language equivalent of (in English) or some other sort of visual notification.
This is particularly important for less-savvy users who may get lost in the process.
To the greatest extent possible, invest in staff, tools, and technology that can be used on various websites, regardless of the language in which they are written. Try to roll out improvements, upgrades, and systems multilaterally. Change internal perceptions of non-English websites as tertiary investments that are usually the first on the chopping block. Consider your multilingual properties as central and crucial... more »
In those cases where web content is translated, be sure that the translation is of a high quality to be culturally appropriate and understandable to a broad audience of speakers of various dialects and from various national backgrounds. Poor quality translations result in users avoiding using a website at all or if they are bilingual they may switch to English even if they would have preferred the other language. When... more »
With the renewal of the federal government commitment to Executive Order 13166 by Attorney General Erik Holder, there is renewed interest in creating content for LEP populations. Let's move towards making multilingual content sustainable, in other words, let's integrate serving LEP populations into our customer service overall strategy so it can be maintained through the years.
Providing federal websites in foreign languages is important, but the process is difficult, costly and requires specialized technology and resources. The government should create a centralized localization team that would manage all aspects of localization. From determining what content to localize, what languages to use to actually localizing content. This team would be responsible for sourcing the appropriate technology... more »
In sites with such a wide target audience, it is important to address varying degrees of computer literacy as a form of localization.
There are varying degrees of computer literacy within each cultural user group. The implications of this need to be identified during a robust discovery process and central to the generation of the sites' interaction design.
Access should also be in-language, e.g., If you're providing access to content in Spanish, it should say "en español"
Access is usually provided in the upper right hand corner, but wherever it goes, it should be easily found.
And don't use flags!
The US Government should create a centralized translation glossary for all agencies to use. This will provide efficiency and consistency.
Many agencies and organizations provide information to multilingual / multicultural audiences by translating content that was developed in English without really understanding the needs of these audiences. I believe it's important to do your audience research and make sure you understand what information is needed first and then make the decisions as to how it will be provided, i.e., original content, transcreation,... more »
Generally translations tend to miss the cultural context of the communication. A cultural adaptation of the text is usually better at expressing the intended content. That is starting the communication from scratch after assimilating the intended meaning instead of translating the words.
In some cases the percentage of people who will use a language other than English on websites is lower than we might expect, even among bilingual and multilingual speakers who might speak some other language at home. By studying user needs a priori, the government can determine what content is most needed in each language for the intended audience, and can decide only to implement websites for the content that will be... more »