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Localization

21 Questions Essential to Every Multilingual Website Project Plan

While there are as many ways to organize a multilingual website design and development project as there are interactive and localization agencies to help you, there are definitely some fundamental steps which should be included in every project plan. If you have already been through a few website projects, or if you are starting with your first, this series of articles should help you make a fairly comprehensive project plan, or at least help you tweak your current plan.

 

The 4-part series will explore 21 Critical Questions to a multilingual website project by providing "sample answers" and "some things to think about" for each question, AND detail how the answers fit into a Six Phase Design and Development Process.

Of course, every project, client, budget, schedule and creative vision is different. So hopefully these articles will at least provide you with some "real templates" and some "idea templates" you can use to organize your efforts.

Having been involved in a few website design and development projects over the years, including the internationalization and localization aspects of developing global websites, I have found that these six phases, in various forms, are part of most projects.

Phase I: Planning and Strategy
Phase II: Design and Specification Prototyping
Phase III: Production
Phase IV: Testing
Phase V: Launch
Phase VI: Project Delivery

All of the project management articles, books and reference materials you can read will essentially say the same things. "It all comes down to planning…" "Battles are won and lost before they are ever fought…" "90% planning and 10% execution…". Some things are certainly worth repeating.

By expanding Phase I: Planning and Strategy, we see our first step, and one that sets the course for, and serves as the foundation of our entire project.

Goals and Objectives

Answer these "21 questions" to begin documenting your requirements and plan.

  1. Who are your website stakeholders and development team?
  2. What are the benefits you want from the site? What is the site for?
  3. What are the benefits to prospects or clients who browse your site?
  4. Who is your target audience?
  5. What type of design do you want? Note some sites that you like from both a content and design perspective.
  6. What type of architecture "functionality" are you looking for? List features and functionality you would like.
  7. Does the site need to integrate with any existing tools already deployed? (forms handling, web-based admin, password protected areas, databases). If so, list.
  8. List some competitors' URLs for review. All of your prospects will be browsing their sites as well.
  9. What is your expected schedule for the website project?
  10. What is the expected budget for the website project?
  11. What is your plan for ongoing maintenance and support for the website?
  12. What is the plan for hosting the website?
  13. Who will write the content for the website?
  14. Who will design the "look and feel" for the site?
  15. Who will architect the website?
  16. Initial list of content resources? (text, graphics and multimedia)
  17. What platforms and authoring tools will be used for the project?
  18. Will you internationalize the site, and if yes who will do the work?
  19. Will you localize the website, and if yes who will do the work?
  20. What is your marketing and launch plan for the website?
  21. What is the expected ROI from building and running the website and how do we measure it?

It is essential to collect this core information from your client, or website stakeholders when embarking on your project. Once you accomplish this, you can flush out more details in a draft project plan.

These questions will get you started by helping you commit to writing the foundation of your plan. Each question will evolve into a chapter in your multilingual website development plan book. For now, a paragraph or two will do. It is good to write-up the questions using two columns where your second column lists the person(s) needed to answer the questions (see below).

#

Question

Person(s)/ Stakeholders

1

Who are your website stakeholders and development team?

2

What are the benefits you want from the site? What is the website for?

...

...

21

What is the expected ROI from building and running the website and how do we measure it?

Let's take a look at the first 5 questions.

Q1: Who are your website stakeholders and development team?

The first step in answering the 21 Questions is of course to identify the per- son(s) who can answer the questions.

Sample Answer:

A team roster for a multilingual website project may look like the figure below:

Team Roster for Multilingual Website Project

Team Member

Responsibility

Email

Company Stakeholders (sales)

Company Stakeholders (product development)

Company Stakeholders (marketing)

Funding Source

Project Manager-Owner

Webmaster (webmaster team)

Site Marketing Team

Content author

Content author

Content author

Project Manager: Localization

French language team

Italian language team

German language team

Spanish language team

Japanese language team

Portuguese language team

Chinese language team

Graphic Designer

Graphic Designer

Animation Multimedia Specialist

Sound Audio Multimedia Specialist

Project Manager: Internationalization

Architecture - I18N specialist

Architecture - programmer

Architecture - programmer

Architecture - programmer

QA Manager

QA Team

Some things to think about:

  • Make a list of the website project team and all contact information.
  • Set up a mailing list or several mailing lists to facilitate communications flow.
  • Fill in as many positions as you can.
  • Several positions will be filled in as the project planning proceeds, certain decisions are made, and required skill sets are identified.
  • When determining stakeholders do not forget other country offices.

Q2: What are the benefits you want from the site? What is the site for?

List what you want from your site and its purpose.

Sample Answer:

"Our website www.greatsite.com, is primarily to create leads for our company. It must be a standout among all other competitors' sites in order to guarantee our inclusion in the first round short list of a prospect's research." So the site is a selling tool.

Some things to think about:

  • Ask all stakeholders what they want from the site.
  • Review each benefit and try to assign a dollar value to the benefit in terms of either additional revenue or decreased costs.

Q3: What are the benefits to prospects or clients who browse your site?

Clients primarily use the internet to conduct their initial research in selecting a product, a service, a company.

Sample Answer:

Prospects or Clients who browse our website want to immediately locate the information about our products and services. Prospects and Clients want to see that our products and services match what they are looking for AND that our site can provide a level of detail on the product or service offering quickly and thoroughly. They also want to use our website to contact us easily.

Some things to think about:

  • Contact your top clients and ask them what they would like to see in your website.
  • Ask your stakeholders to make a list of questions prospects and clients usually ask of the company, and think of ways to make this information easily available via your site.

Q4: Who is your target audience?

Typically the value of this question is that many companies cannot answer it.

Sample Answer:

Greatsite.com's target audiences are those prospects looking for our products and services. We are not sure of the number of people who use or will use our site.

Some things to think about:

  • Learn about various site analysis tools such as WebTrends' Log Analyzer in order to help understand the composition and origin of visitors to your site.

Q5: What type of design do you want? Note some sites that you like from both a content and design perspective.

We want the coolest website on the Internet! Good answer. How about…

Sample Answer:

We want a design that is in line with our current branding initiatives, and exudes a cutting edge technology company. Our site should be very easy to navigate.

Some things to think about:

  • If you do not have a "Branding Plan" including a Style Guide, get one together.
  • Ask all of your website stakeholders to come up with a list of sites and design features they like.
  • Have a review session "Site Cinema" day or evening where the stakeholders brainstorm on what they like, and view different sites on a big screen.

As you can see, your first 5 questions are really all about determining what you want from the website, and what your prospects and clients may want from the site.

It is critical that you devote the amount of upfront time necessary to receive ALL feedback from the stakeholders and clients. This will ensure that you'll avoid misconceptions, and a lot of wasted time in redesign, recopy writing and redevelopment.

"21 Questions essential to every Multilingual Website Project Plan" is the first in a 4 part series which details how to plan your website project. Next article will address questions 6-11.

-MS

Phase I: Planning and Strategy

(Relevant 21-Questions)

A.

Goals and Objectives

1

ALL

Answer "21 questions" to begin documenting requirements and plan.

B.

Research

1

ALL

Review and approval of 21 questions from team

2

5, 8

Review Competitive Sites

3

3, 4

Target Audience/Users discussion

4

Collect additional client information and discuss 1-3

C.

Initial Project Proposal

1

5, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19

Organize and discuss initial Content Brief (content)

2

5, 6, 8, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19

Organize and discuss Creative Brief (treatment)

3

5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

Organize and discuss Technology Brief (technologies)

4

Agree on acceptance test criteria

D.

ALL

Draft Initial Statement of Work: Scope

E.

9

Draft Initial Statement of Work: Schedule

F.

10

Draft Initial Statement of Work: Costs

G.

1

Assign final teams

Phase II: Design and Specification Prototyping

A.

5, 6, 8, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19

Concept Planning

1

Concept Planning (design, colors, graphics, navigation)

2

Site Map and Major Link Development

3

I18N - L10N planning and education for writers-designers-programmers

B.

5, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19

Content Development (content)

1

Collect content sources

2

Conduct content refinement discus-sions (search optimization issues, I18N and L10N issues)

3

1st Draft English content

4

Client proof of content

5

2nd draft content

6

Client review and approval

7

Localization project management of language versions begins

C.

5, 6, 8, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19

Design Development (treatment)

1

Develop specified number of comps

2

Conduct design refinement discussions (search optimization issues, I18N and L10N issues)

3

1st Draft design

4

Client proof of design

5

2nd draft design

6

Client review and approval

7

Localization project management of language versions begins

D.

5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

Technical Development (technologies)

1

Conduct client architecture-platform discussions

2

Convert design work into usable code

3

Determine integration issues with existing tools

4

Client review and approval

Phase III: Production

A.

ALL

Site Development

1

Implement design

2

Web Page Development

3

Database - technologies design

4

Use one other language version for test

Phase IV: Testing

A.

5,6,7

Site Testing

1

Conduct user-client acceptance testing

B.

Site Finalization

1

Changes

Phase V: Launch

A.

Product Delivery to Client

B.

Notify client site is ready

C.

20

Site Marketing Campaign

D.

4

Search Engine Optimization Campaign

E.

21

Activate Site Monitoring tools

Phase VI: Project Delivery

A.

Project Deliverables

1

Site and documentation delivery

2

Training of web-based maintenance

B.

11

Provide on-going maintenance

1

Updates and changes special

2

Ongoing Relationship

 

 
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