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Global App Localization: Eventbrite and Virgin Pulse, Lessons Learned

Global ticketing platform, Eventbrite, and digital wellness giant, Virgin Pulse are two fast-growing global brands for which content and product are heavily intertwined and relied upon for positive UX. Content can make or break their customers’ experiences with their apps, so getting it right in every language is imperative to their success. 

App localization comes with a particular set of hurdles: A recent poll among B2B and B2C global businesses revealed that the ability to scale (44%) and getting language quality right (33%) are the top issues when developing apps for multiple markets. 

Get ahead of the challenges that businesses like Eventbrite and Virgin Pulse overcame, and explore how they effectively implemented app localization at scale with these key takeaways. 

1. A new perspective: Combining technical with cultural

Localization is not simply a linguistic or a cultural challenge: It is, as Virgin Pulse’s Senior VP of Product Experience, Bob Goodman described it, “really techno-cultural.”

Typically, UX design could be categorized more as a technical function of the localization process. Alphabets and characters across different languages can take up more or less space on the screen, both from a height and width perspective; this heavily impacts user experience, as it can affect navigation systems and even break the display, due to the different distribution of content.

Some languages, like Arabic, present an even more unique challenge: Their directional flow is from right to left, and simply mirroring every element of the app won’t be enough, as users will scan for information differently and require reversed representations of linear time and task progression.

Virgin Pulse confronted these challenges by adopting a liquid design, or a high level of design flexibility. Within a liquid layout, content flows as needed on the page; rather than having fixed boundaries, width is flexible and determined by percentages instead of pixels. This translates to easier adaptation to different screen resolutions and removes empty spaces. A dynamic design allows for character reduction or expansion with no negative effect on the functionality of the app.

As you can see, UX design goes beyond technical considerations; it is steeped in cultural awareness, and as Goodman explained, demands an ability to consider experiences outside-in from many different viewpoints.

2. Invest in people, relationships, and resources

It is essential for the success of any business that localization teams coordinate in tandem with other cross-functional departments, and leverage each other’s metrics, schedules, and deliverables to push toward a mutual goal. 

Eventbrite’s Localization Manager, Patrick McLoughlin, invested time and resources in bridging the gap between the localization team and other departments, including marketing, product management, engineering, and even senior leadership. The localization team sought to educate employees at every level of the company on the significance of localization while tailoring conversations to each department’s challenges, priorities, and pain points.

This helped establish allies across the company and open up lines of communications to drive through projects. McLoughlin tied success to the company’s metrics and international impact to prove that you aren’t simply trying to do what’s right grammatically, but what’s right for the company. 

3. Bring localization to the forefront of the process

Localization shouldn’t feel like a bottleneck, which is why, in addition to investing in its people and relationships, Eventbrite also focused on the upstreaming of the process itself.

When localizing at scale, it’s important to understand the implication of every design and copy choice, and to have a clear grasp of the product roadmap. Additionally, provide translators with training on the product, offering them a clear frame of reference from the get-go.

At Virgin Pulse, this meant adopting a precise content creation approach for localization. First, they removed idioms and jargon from their branding, opting for the use of  Global English, which made their content more widely accessible and translation-friendly. Secondly, they created a global style guide shared among all stakeholders, providing context and access to additional information on each feature of the app. 

This strategy was paired with a Global Strings Repository to guarantee a seamless approach to their translations across all channels, including web and mobile. The process ensured that all content was sent for translation from a central repository, and, optimizing the use of the Translation Memory, applied back across all channels in a cohesive, unified manner, rather than providing different versions for each technology.

Terminologies and the introduction of the right technologies to handle different languages’ plural, singular, and gender syntax further supported the automation of word and segment disambiguation, such as the different meanings and forms of the word steps in different contexts.

This ensured that Virgin Pulse had the strategy, technical process, and suitable content to successfully internationalize their app.

4. Use mergers and acquisitions to leverage market knowledge

Mergers and acquisitions can have a profound impact on a company’s efforts to localize globally.

Because Virgin Pulse operates across more than 10 languages, the challenges of merging with or integrating a new business with their brand increase exponentially. To facilitate the process, Virgin Pulse assesses the new member’s pool of knowledge and attempts to align every process and workflow, with a goal to aggregate them into one team and one strategy. 

International M&As also fuelled a significant part of Eventbrite’s international growth and brought with them unique challenges and benefits. In 2013, Eventbrite acquired Eventioz, a company known as the Latin American equivalent of Eventbrite, with a focus on the Argentinian and Brazilian markets. Eventioz’s content was hyper-localized: It used highly regionalized grammar and required more customization for currencies and payment systems, which posed a bigger challenge when attempting to get the brand voice right. The partnership, however, allowed Eventbrite to gain a far deeper understanding of the needs and wants of its Latin American market.

For a deeper dive into Virgin Pulse and Eventbrite’s strategy, view the webinar on app localization hosted in 2021

If you are interested in learning more about app localization at scale, and how Unbabel supports the localization efforts of many other global powerhouses, get in touch with our experts.  

About the Author

Neil Campbell is Global Sales Director at Unbabel. Neil focuses on building a data-driven sales team, helping companies enter and thrive in global markets, and developing a fun, customer-focused company culture across international hubs.

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