Do your web developers know about Globalize?

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Today, the JQuery Foundation has announced availability of Globalize 1.0:

Globalize provides developers with always up-to-date global number formatting and parsing, date and time formatting and parsing, currency formatting, and message formatting. Based on the Unicode Consortium standards and specifications, Globalize uses the Common Locale Data Repository (CLDR), the most extensive and widely-used standard repository of locale data. With Globalize, all developers can quickly reach global markets with confidence that their apps and sites will always have the most accurate and up-to-date locale data available.

I published a book a few years back on an early iteration of Globalize. I’m excited to see  jQuery moving forward with Globalize, as it has improved not only the lives of anyone who must internationalize and localize web apps and websites, but also the experience of web users around the world. Because users benefit from seeing dates and times and currencies displayed as they expect them to be displayed for their respective cultures — and displayed consistently across web applications.

If your developers aren’t aware of Globalize, point them to it today.

WordPress now at 70 languages, and counting

This blog has been hosted on WordPress since 2002.

Since then, WordPress has grown into one of the dominant publishing platforms on the Internet. And one of the most multilingual as well, with strong support for 53 locales and limited support for an additional 20 or so locales.

Languages supported include Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Icelandic,  and Thai. Even  Scottish Gaelic.

And the result of all this localization is now clear. As creator Matt Mullenweg noted earlier this year, non-English downloads of WordPress have surpassed English downloads.


Looking ahead, WordPress will expand the localization framework and refine language packs, which are currently a bit odd to work with in my opinion.

Also coming are fully localized theme and plugin directories.

WordPress is a great example of how early and ongoing investment in localization reaps global rewards.

PS: If your locale is not currently supported, you can always help get it there.


What’s the ROI of web globalization?


I’ve been meaning to write about this for awhile. A few months ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly said this at an investor meeting:

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.”

I love this quote.

And I love any CEO who knows when the ROI argument is an irrelevant argument.

That’s because sometimes the ROI just isn’t there — maybe not initially, maybe not ever. And sometimes NOT doing something is far worse than worrying about the ROI of actually doing it.

Which leads me to web globalization.

What’s the ROI of web localization for a given language or market?

Isn’t this an important data point to have?

Yes. And no.

I have helped companies calculate the ROI of web localization. And I’ve been privy to extremely complex ROI models that look at factors such as GDP, Internet connectivity, macroeconomic trends, political instability, demographics, and internal business priorities.

I don’t want to suggest that these efforts aren’t worth the effort. They usually are worth the effort.

But I also hate to see ROI used as a convenient excuse for saying NO.

More often than not, the ROI of web localization is all too obvious, or it should be to those at the top of the org chart.

And if you’re in a position of arguing for greater localization investment, I suggest you ask anyone who objects:

What’s the ROI of creating an English-language website?

“Isn’t it obvious that we need an English-language website?” would be the likely response from an English speaker.

Using that logic, isn’t it equally as obvious to speakers of other languages that you need to support their languages if you ever hope to sell to them?

Seems obvious to me.

So the question really shouldn’t be IF we should localize but HOW to do so effectively, making the best use of resources and managing user expectations as we expand within new markets. And ROI has a role to play in these discussions as well, but a much more nuanced role.

Questions every marketing team should ask when it comes to using ROI to make web localization decisions:

  • Is ROI being used to justify our pathetically low investment in web localization?
  • Is ROI being used to “kick the can” down the road of making a decision on web globalization?
  • Will we look back five years from now and kick ourselves for not investing in such and such language/locale?

ROI is not the answer. It’s just a tool to help you arrive at an answer. And sometimes, when the answer is obvious, it’s not a very effective tool at all. It can in fact be dangerous.

And on a final note, I can tell you that a number of companies at the top of the 2014 Report Card did not worry about ROI when deciding to invest in, say, Arabic or Chinese or Hindi. They just did it knowing that web globalization was key to their long-term success.