Sunday Nov 21, 2010

Keeping It Simple, Yet Effective: Facebook's I18n Best Practices

I picked up a request on Twitter, asking for help in explaining the concept of "string concatenation" to a nontechnical audience. I struggled for a bit, and then remembered the excellent Facebook internationalization (I18n) materials. I sent them on, and was thanked. Job done. Here's how Facebook dealt with the issue:

concatenation.png

(Image copyright Facebook, 2010)

Notice how the word "concatenation" never appears at all? That's smart. The audience for the materials is not made up of seasoned developers or professional linguists. Why bring such a technical term into the conversation when it can be explained in simple terms--with examples too?

I've long maintained one of the problems with internationalization is that developers and linguists don't actually know how to communicate with each other--even when they think they speak the same natural language. Facebook has done a great job in solving that problem with simply worded I18n guidelines with real-world examples that everyone can understand. We should learn that lesson and apply it.

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Oracle applications user experience (UX) assistance. UX and development outreach of all sorts to the apps community, helping to design and deliver usable apps.

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Ultan Ó Broin. Director, Global Applications User Experience, Oracle Corporation. On Twitter: @ultan

See my other Oracle blog about product globalization too: Not Lost in Translation

Interests: User experience (UX), user centered design, design patterns, tailoring, BYOD, dev relations, language quality, mobile apps, Oracle FMW and ADF, and a lot more.

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