ATA57: Sarah E. Sagué’s Talk on “Localizing for Millennials”

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Photo Credit: HubSpot

Photo Credit: HubSpot

Beatriz Figueiredo

Based on the two huge buzzwords in the title, I knew this session was going to be packed. Add to this the fact that Sarah E. Sagué works as a Senior Localization Specialist at eBay, and you know you have to be there early to get a good seat. The best of all was that she did not disappoint and delivered a dynamic and engaging session.

Sarah started by discussing the concept of millennials: They are digital natives or early adopters of technology who are typically born anywhere from 1980 to 1995 (hey, I’m in!). She also explained that the on-demand lifestyle comes naturally to digital natives, who are used to doing anything they want on their phones today (dating, groceries, booking accommodations, banking… The list is endless!)

So, as localizers, how do we catch their attention to provide a great mobile experience? Sarah did a great job summarizing what this mobile experience actually involves: There is less text and more icons, and it is very much user-focused. If you want to get to the user’s brain fast, more visual input is the way to go.

A user-focused experience in today’s world also creates a number of challenges for localizers. First of all, most apps are developed in the United States with a US-centric mindset, so localization professionals need to advocate for global users. We also need to remember that text will almost always expand when translated into a foreign language, so translators should always strive to keep it short and move the most important content to the beginning whenever possible.

One of the most interesting things she discussed was the conversational tone that is being increasingly adopted by mobile app developers as user interface (UI) content merges with marketing content. This can be quite a challenge depending on the target language and culture, and a practical example can be seen when an app lets you know that “you’re all caught up”, meaning you have no new notifications. Finally, there’s also the issue of app-specific lingo and whether it should be translated or not (for example, Snapchat uses snaps, snapping, stories, stickers, etc.).

When Sarah was wrapping up her session, I was happy to see that a seemingly timeless principle still applied: You still have to really know your audience in order to produce relevant and high-quality work. In fact, this is the key word when localizing for millennials: relevance. So I made a note to myself to download Yik Yak when I got home, just to be on the ball.


bia figueiredoBEATRIZ FIGUEIREDO started working as a professional translator by combining her knowledge of English and educational background in the health sector. She studied in England, obtained a Certificate of Proficiency in English from the University of Cambridge, and completed her translation studies at the City University London. Since then, she has not only furthered her knowledge as a translator in her specialized field, but also completed technical projects and book translations while working with governmental offices, law firms, publishers, and several multinational companies. She also has strong experiences in subtitling, especially institutional videos, musicals, movies, and TV series.

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