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Product Design - How to Scale Internationally in 2021

5 Key Design Strategies to Scale Your MVP for 2021

The effect of globalization can be gauged from the myriad number of international brands entering domestic markets of various countries. But, out of these, only some  are capable of satisfying the expectations of local consumers.

Why is that so?

It’s solely because such brands don’t take the factor of ‘localization’ into consideration during product design. 

Today, we’ll be discussing with you the significance of localization in the minimum viable product designing process and the key strategies that will help your product to scale on an international level.

Main Design Strategies to Implement for Scaling Your Product  Internationally 

There is world-wide diversity in languages, cultures, currencies, laws and even measurements and date formats; scaling your product by transcending these barriers is not that easy. Hence, the concept of localization has a central role to play in product design. 

Let’s take a look at some important design strategies that will help your product to conquer international markets.

1.Create Global Product Design Templates

A unique product design for each target market may not really be a practical solution while designing for a global  audience; the best approach is to create a basic, but flexible framework – a global product design template.

Such a template needs to have only the navigation elements and the features that dictate the core offering of the app/website. Based on the location-specific requirements, it can be customized for local content and deals/promotions. 

2. Localization is More Important than Translation

Even though, localization and translation are used interchangeably in a conversational context, both connote different aspects in a product design point of view. In fact, localization can either make or break a brand in a foreign market.

Imagine a US-based ecommerce website displaying the winter theme on the homepage of its Australian site during the Christmas season. That’s a terrible gaffe because it’s summer time during Christmas in Australia.

When users of a particular region are able to connect well with your product with regards to their native language, culture and other local customs, then you can confidently claim that the product is a success there.

Localization refers to aligning with the linguistic, cultural and political factors of a country or region. Translation, though an integral part of localization, is mostly limited to converting the content written in the product (in our case, an app or website) between languages.

3. Pay Attention to Text Lengths 

While designing your product to cater to non-English speakers, you need to keep in mind the factor of text expansion and contraction.

For example, the CTA, “Start your free trial”, when translated into six different languages, looks as follows:

English:                        Start your free trial

German:                       Starten Sie Ihre kostenlose Testversion

French:                         Commencer votre essai gratuit

Chinese (Simplified):  开始你的免费试用

Japanese:                    無料トライアルを開始する         

Russian:                       Начните бесплатный пробный период                

Spanish:                       Comienza tu prueba gratuita

Compare the length of the text string in these languages with that of English. In Chinese, it’s almost the same or slightly shorter, and when written in German and Russian, it’s the longest.

Hence, make sure you provide enough space (35-40% target is good) in widgets, navigation bars and search fields for text expansion, so that you don’t have to break your original design altogether to accommodate different text lengths.

4. Design for RTL Language Scripts

While most languages follow a left to right (LTR) writing script, some languages such as Hebrew, Urdu and Arabic are written and read from right to left (RTL). 

Below are the snapshots of Microsoft’s localized website versions in Arabic and French. As you can see, the UI layouts of the sites are mirroring each other. 

Localized Website Design

Notice the logo and search icon in the header of the Arabic site are placed in the RTL format. Such a design calls for flipping the layout (for the mirror effect) without changing the content. 

To know more about designing for RTL scripts, click here.

5. Use Appropriate Images, Symbols and Colors

UX designers must take special care while placing visual elements like images, icons, symbols and colors in the app/website, as some of these may be culturally sensitive. For example, the OK hand gesture is considered offensive in Brazil, France, Tunisia and certain Arab countries. 

Color perceptions are also culturally different; the color of mourning is white in some countries, while it is black elsewhere. Similarly, images should resonate with the culture and outlook of a country/region whose audience you are targeting.

In Closing

All these strategies will achieve fruition when you conduct localization testing and QA on the product. This will help you to detect and solve linguistic and culture-related design flaws.

So, if you want your product to scale across international boundaries, then avail the services of experienced UI/UX designers who are adept at localizing your product design for your target markets.

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