If there is one effect that the internet has had, it’s brought us closer together. Boundaries are destroyed and people from opposite sides of the planet can chat, share, and conduct business as though they were next door.
And as a result of this, English has become the common language for worldwide communication. We’re an international team of content creators at clovio and, as such, we’re also a part to how ideas are expressed online. Some of us are native English speakers, but some of us have learned the language. That in itself is a challenge, but how do we – as a team – share our content to an audience that may also not have a native understanding? How do we make sure our content is as international as we are?
It’s All About Style
The first thing to do is to prepare the foundation. This means setting the rules for everyone to follow. Consistency is the most important aspect since it means there’s no confusion both throughout the website and within any given article.
For example, though we’re primarily based in Europe here at clovio, we insist that our writers use U.S. English in their articles. With such a rule to follow, everyone is utilizing the same language with no option for deviation. And so if a question arises surrounding the right word to use – favor or favour, for example – the writer will automatically know exactly which one to go with.
This is just one example, of course, but our style guides help to control many of these situations, ensuring consistency throughout our articles. In this way, non-natives reading our content won’t find themselves confused by inconsistent rules or stylistic writing.
Keeping the Language Simple
It doesn’t matter what country your content is targeting, if your choice of words leaves a reader unsure then you’ve already failed. Simple language has fewer barriers. This means swapping out lesser known words in favor of those that most people would know, which includes non-natives.
As part of this, it’s also helpful to restrict the length of sentences. Longer ‘run-on sentences’, as they’re called, are harder for the reader to follow. This is especially helpful if a reader is non-native, since shorter sentences require less effort to interpret and understand.
Of course, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid using jargon or technical terms, and in these cases it’s important to remember that not everyone has the same level of expertise that our writers have. Explaining otherwise confusing terms means anyone of any level of comprehension can follow our content.
While we’re all about keeping our content light and entertaining to read here at clovio, there has to be a balance. It might be fun to include a colloquial phrase about rain from British English or refer to your collective readers as “all y’all”, but if you’re targeting an international audience then not everyone will understand this reference and could leave them confused. And ultimately, that means they will likely leave the page, too.
It’s crucial to avoid localized language, and this includes how you approach cliches and popular phrases. Most of us might know not to count our eggs before they’re hatched, but if this idiom is taken literally it might well confuse the reader as they try to figure out how it connects to your intended point.
An International Team
And actually, the reverse is true, too. While we do set up various expectations to ensure our international team of writers are able to match their content to a global audience, our process of editing means that those little errors that might slip in are ironed out. Certain phrases or terminologies don’t translate over from other languages too well and, if so, we’ll have a conversation to figure out a more natural, native alternative.
But the added advantage here is that our team has a global mindset. Our discussions surrounding the content we produce and how it is written means we can find a fair and even neutral ground. This convergence of cultures and preferences only helps to create content that appeals to as wide an audience across as many countries as possible.