Local specialist Web application development company, White Wall Web, has designed a custom built extension technology that has enabled powerful multi-lingual capabilities on the Schwarzkopf international education website.
Recently released following extensive beta testing, the technology has enabled the "localisation" of 13 different languages to date, with six different character sets, on the professional hair care and styling product manufacturer's web site.
"In order to meet the needs of the brief, the technology had to be both internationalised and localised," says Peter Flynn, MD of White Wall Web.
"Internationalisation involves designing a product so that it can be adapted simply to different languages without modification. Localisation is the introduction of translated text phrases and the inclusion of location/language specific formatting to the development.
"Once we, and our UK based design partner GM Design, had accomplished this, we were able to offer a product to content capturers that minimises the efforts required in translating web pages. Our solution automates many of the complexities involved," he says.
The technology reliably captures different dictionaries, maintaining the integrity of the character sets and symbols, storing them correctly and presenting them when required, he adds. Translation of the site is performed on the fly, which means that only the most recent and correct version of a site is displayed at all times and in all of 13 languages.
Flynn says that through deployment of this technology, Schwarzkopf have experienced easier regional expansion.
"To achieve greater market exposure online, Web sites need to accommodate different locales and by internationalising a project at the start, the Schwarzkopf site's reach is dramatically increased as they are able to leverage one code base to serve many markets."
One of the strengths of this technology is not only its ability to translate text, but other assets like images, flash files, movies, etc. In the absence of translated phrases, rules can be configured to specify defaults, for examples, administrators can opt to hide certain aspects of the site until a translated version is provided.
This technology is interesting in a South African context. Flynn says SA web agencies are currently viewed as a cost-effective but highly capable partner for European and US based agencies. Being able to provide multilingual sites handling European and Asian language character sets in such a seamless manner adds to the attraction of outsourcing work to local businesses.
"Add to this the many local official languages we have in South Africa, and you have a technology that should undoubtedly be considered for use in governmental initiatives. Too few developments adequately accommodate the non-English speaking demographics and therefore don't speak the language of significant portions of the country. This is usually due to the complexity and costs related to offering this feature.
"Further, any company aiming to impact Africa as a continent would be wise in considering internationalising their sites to align with the African continental languages – thereby reaching a wider audience," he says.