Taking Learning Global: the Tuts+ Translation Project

The hunger to learn knows no race or geography. Yet until early 2014, Envato's educational platform Tuts+ was 100% English language.

As of June 22, 2015, we've chalked up over 1000 tutorials in 37 different languages - and we're adding five more each day.

The driving force behind this project is Ian Yates, editor of Web Design content at Tuts+, who decided our tutorials needed to do a better job of reflecting Envato's global values and community.

He shares the lessons learned bringing the project to life with partners, developers and a team of global volunteers.

How was the seed planted for the Tuts translation project?

Ian: For as long as we’ve been publishing tutorials readers have been translating them into their native languages, usually on their own blogs.

We found this interesting. Were people doing this for the benefit of others? Perhaps they wanted to cement the tutorials into their own minds?

It was clear there was demand for translations, so we decided to see if we could improve the process and help those translations reach a wider audience.

Did you consider the bigger impact of multi-language content?

Ian: Catering for multiple languages on the web has never been more important. As Envato's education platform we believe people in every country should have the opportunity to learn and improve.

Developing nations are starting to make an impact on the tech world and connectivity is getting better, so it's high time to encourage diversity and be more inclusive.

Catering for multiple languages on the web has never been more important.

How are the translations performing so far? Are they proving popular?

Ian: We're seeing over 100,000 page views per month so far, and that's growing at a monthly average of around 20%.

Spanish is by far the most active language at the moment, though who knows whether that will always be the case?!

Global analytics show us our translations are being read in the right places; Russian in Russia, French in France and former African colonies, Polish in Poland. That might sound like a foregone conclusion, but it’s encouraging to see they're being used by the audiences who need them most.

Spanish is by far the most active language at the moment.

Tell us about your process?

Ian: We’re big advocates of the MVP (minimum viable product) approach at Envato, which lets us move quickly, test ideas and build on them if we see potential.

First step - our team created a way for our content management system to publish translated posts and attach them to the original English versions.

Then we needed translators.

A quick glance at our analytics told us German, French, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese were the places to start, so I reached out to our community in those areas and asked if anyone could help.

We focused on historically popular tutorials to give us reasonable data sets for analysis.

After a lot of emails back and forth we had ourselves a small collection of posts we could measure, and the ball was rolling!

How have you scaled and improved?

Ian: Our partnership with Native has been invaluable. That's automated a large part of the workflow (making it easier for me), and given volunteers better tools for translating (making it easier for them).

Check out how Tuts+ translations are spread across the world on this interactive map.

What tips would you give anyone looking to translate content for their own website or digital project?

S.E.O. is an important consideration. When you’re dealing with unfamiliar languages and audiences it’s difficult to target them, so you need to ensure people can search for and find your content.

Make sure translations are structured properly behind the scenes (page titles, meta tags, language attributes, character encoding) as all this will help search engines understand what the content is.

Being open to the nuances of cultures and languages is vital. Make the way you communicate and present content as language agnostic as possible. Our volunteers have told me about small details, unique to their respective languages, which were getting in the way.

Oh, and flags represent nations, not languages! :)

Make the way you communicate and present content as language agnostic as possible


Got multi-lingual talents? Want to help us translate for the world? Find out how you can join the Tuts+ translation team!

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