Importance of localization

As I already said in some of my earlier posts, I see the localization as one of the most important things out there. Although I’m writing this blog in English, I do and always will support having localized applications and documentation for it, so non tech-savvy users could enjoy using them with flavor of all its features. Of course, as much as the application a one uses is good, the localization gets more on importance.

On the other hand, it looks like most of the tech-savvy people in Serbia do not agree with aforementioned statement. As some of you might know, I’m the Mozilla Serbia community leader, Web Localizer, Firefox localization peer and Mobile Firefox localization coordinator. Mozilla localization team allowed all lead localizers to have a brief stats on how many Firefox downloads we had last week, and what’s even more important, what percent of those downloads are actually downloads of localized versions of Firefox.

Last week I took a look at those statistics, and noticed that more than 60 percent of Firefox downloads from Serbia belongs to en-US locale, or the default one. That is something that worried me a bit, because we have Firefox localized in Serbian for several years now, and by now a one would expect that more than 70 percent of people in Serbia using Firefox, to actually use it in Serbian language.

I crawled the web a bit these days, and saw that many Serbian website’s web-masters tend to link to official Mozilla website rather than to Mozilla Serbia community website or even official Mozilla website in Serbian. Also, I asked a few of them if they could change the links with an brief argument, and believe it or not, always got the response saying that they DO NOT SUPPORT SERBIAN LANGUAGE ON THE INTERNET. Now, that got me amused, and made me wonder what could cause such a thing, and how should we treat it. So here’s the thesis:

Why would a man/woman from Serbia prefer English over Serbian(in apps)

  • People got used to English
  • Some of them are not actually reading the whole strings, but can recognize them by reading first few letters
  • Some translations in Serbian may sound weird or funny

So, now we came to the point where we should ask ourselves the following: “How to change that, or how to convince people that can change things that we should really encourage users to use native language?”. There is no simple nor ultimate answer that can explain the process as it should be done. The first thing is the root, and if we’re talking about Firefox(I am), than that is Mozilla. I have noticed that Mozilla actually cares about this, and is trying to promote both localized versions and local Mozilla communities, to help localizers their “product” is seen. We can see a link to Mozilla Serbia local community on Firefox Support, Thunderbird Support, Spread Firefox…

Another thing that we could do, is to advertize the localized version of our product to users coming from Serbia (using GeoIP tech) and are using Firefox in en-US locale. The pages on which we need this the most are the ones you get when you start Firefox after installation or upgrade process. That would, in my opinion, significantly improve the percentage of usage of localized Firefox. Also, we need to spread the word, to ask wherever we can and whoever we can to promote the localized Firefox for the sake of all newbies that will and are using Firefox.