When it comes to localization, Web3 keeps replicating mistakes of Web2. This is why.
Web 3.0 was supposed to be the next frontier of Web 2.0’s evolution.
But it keeps mirroring the mistakes of Web 2.0.
Take localization for example.
While virtual stores, metaverse platforms, and other Web3 miracles promise inclusivity and strive to engage “the whole world”, they tend to forget that this “whole world” is not a uniform place.
1. One language to connect them all
The number 1 mistake Web3 product owners do is focusing on English-speaking users only.
That’s what Decentraland does, that’s the approach of nearly every virtual store (eg. Elizabeth Arden, Laneige, Samsung) and many dApps (eg. Gameta, Atomic Assets, Rarible).
They’re all building a sandcastle in a desert.
In fact, only 25% of online users speak English – and not all of them are interested in your amazing Web3 platform.
That’s why you’ll need to add more languages to make your product truly global.
But don’t just pick languages willy-nilly based on online stats. Instead, understand your target audience and then adjust your content to their needs. Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic may be the most popular among online users, but totally irrelevant to your target audience.
The first step to boosting your user engagement is to do thorough research.
And that brings us to mistake number 2.
2. Red flags
Did you hear about Dverso? I didn’t know about it either, but when I heard how unique this metaverse platform is, I couldn’t resist diving into a new adventure. The outlandish avatars stole my heart, the 3D world was a pleasure to explore until… I saw two red flags.
The country flags.
The Dverso team deserves a round of applause for adding Japanese, English, and Italian to their language portfolio, but using flags as a language choice menu is a definite no-no.
In Web 2.0 this approach was declared a major blunder some 10 years ago. Yes, you’ve read it right: a whole decade. Web 2.0 made all the localization mistakes already, learned from them, and found effective solutions, so why reinvent the wheel now?
There are other, less confusing ways to indicate language versions, for example using language codes (IT for Italian, JP for Japanese) or displaying the language name in the local tongue.
If you truly care about making your digital product inclusive, steer clear of country flags. Let’s leave them for sporting events and celebrations, shall we?
And that’s how we arrive to mistake number 3.
3. Flirting with machines
Machine or AI-based translation might be great, but have you seen what it does to user engagement?
It takes it on a downhill ride.
If your target audience is made up of humans, you’ll need real humans to make that magic happen.
In case you haven’t had a chance to venture into the world of Web3 products with machine-translated content, have a look at some metaverse experiences displayed in languages other than English (that is if you speak those languages).
On my recent journeys through Web3 I stumbled upon many machine-like translated experiences, such as Australian Open in Polish or NHL Blast in Spanish (both hosted on Roblox), but you could find such content in nearly every corner of Web3.
You might be captivated by the stunning visuals and exciting features, but once you try to read the text, things take a weird turn. It reads Polish/German/French/Portuguese but somehow the strings sound like English. You see Polish/German/French/Portuguese words, but you have to switch back to English to understand the button names, commands, or menus.
What happened to clarity? Where’s the human touch, professional localization, in-context review…?
Without these steps, your content is nothing else than a mishmash of words spewed out by misaligned machines.
You don’t have to fumble in the dark. When it comes to localization, most paths have already been paved. All you need is the guiding light of a professional localization team to lead your way.
Are you ready to make your product truly global? We can help you find your path to global success!
Dorota Pawlak is a localization consultant for digital and Web 3.0 brands. She enjoys helping businesses enter new markets and is passionate about cultures, languages, and technology.
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