Leaving the Country made me a better web developer

After spending a short time where English is not the primary language, I have learned first hand the importance of proper translation. There have been many times when I was translating a website that I did not put much thought into how those random arrangement of characters fit into the place they were suppose to go. However, I have now seen what it looks like for translations to be an after thought. The problem is not that the message is broken, but that it gives off a bad impression and sometimes can be interpreted as offensive or insensitive.

It’s not that this is new to me, but that I never understood how important it was until I was on the receiving end. This has given me a whole new perspective on the importance of being diligent with my localization tasks. Another thing I have noticed are how many things are designed without relying on text and use clever illustrations to convey the message like on road signs and exit lights. I have seen this being done using meaningful icons on websites, but I always looked at that from a design prospective and not a localization tactic.

It feels like to me that most cultures are better at a multilingual society than the United States. This shows from their intuitive solutions to overcoming a language barrier. My time abroad has not only changed my impression of other cultures, but given me stronger awareness to the importance of my attention to detail.