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Conversational UI Language Design at LocWorld35

Language in Business, Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team member (and Microsoft Alum) Karen Scipi (@karenscipi) presented on the subject of Conversational UI in the Enterprise at #LocWorld35 Silicon Valley. Karen covered the central importance of  language design for chatbots and other conversational user interfaces (CUIs) for global work use cases.

Karen Scipi presenting on Conversational UIs in the Enterprise at Localization World in Silicon Valley 2017 (Image credit: Olga)

Karen Scipi presenting on Conversational UIs in the Enterprise at Localization World in Silicon Valley 2017 (Image credit: Olga)

Karen even developed two chatbot integrations for Slack introducing her topic. One was in English, the other was in Italian.

Italian LocWorld Chatbot Conversation Example

Italian LocWorld Chatbot Conversation Example (Source: Karen Scipi)

What’s a Conversational UI?

Chatbots and the alike are a very hot topic, wrapped up in the artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and robotics part of technology’s evolution. However, user experience design insight and an empathy for how people interact with each other through technology in work, at play, or in everyday life makes the difference when creating a great user experience in any language.What could be more 'natural' than talking to a computer? Click To Tweet

CUI means we moved from a “user”-centric concept of design to a human-centric one. After all, what could be more “natural” that talking to a computer? Both humans and computers “converse” in dialog, and it’s the language design knowledge for such a conversation that’s critical to delivering a natural, human-like interaction between the two.

Examples of CUIs include Facebook Messenger, Slack bots, TelegramAmazon Echo and Alexa devices, and so on. Interaction can be via voice, SMS messaging, typing text on a keyboard, and so on.

In the enterprise there are a broad range of considerations and stakeholders that localization and UX pros must to consider. Fundamentally though, enterprise CUIs are about increasing participation in the user experience of work, making things simpler.

 

Oracle Conversational UI image showing the interaction and participation of humans and the cloud - in any language! (Source: OAUX)

Oracle Conversational UI image showing the interaction and participation of humans and the cloud – in any language! (Source: OAUX)

Localization of Conversational UIs

To an extent, the localization or language part of the CUI interaction is determined by the NLP support of the chatbot or other platform used: what languages it supports, how good the AI and ML parts are, and so on. However, language skills are at the heart of the conversational UI design, whether it’s composing that  user storyline for design flows or creating the prompts and messages seen by the human involved.

This kind of communication skill is much in-demand: It is a special type of talent: a mix of technical writing, film script or creative writing, transcreation, and interpreting. It’s a domain insight that gets right down to the nitty-gritty of replicating and handling how humans really speak and write: slang, errors, typos, warts and all. CUI language designers must even decide how emoji and personality can or should be localized in different versions of a chatbot.

Where’s the Conversation Headed?

The conversational UI market is growing globally as messenger apps take over. Localization and language pros cannot ignore the conversational UI space.

Karen will be speaking next at the Seattle Localization User Group (SLUG) in December (2017) about Conversational UIs in the Enterprise.Localization and language pros cannot ignore the conversational UI space. Click To Tweet

 

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Visual Composer makes Citizen Developer a Citoyen du Monde

Personalization and Design

Interesting to see that Facebook has announced the launch of a multilingual composer tool that enables users to post their status updates in different languages so that their friends and followers can see the update in only their preferred language. 

This notion of composers is not new, of course. They’ve been around for a while and often encountered in the e-commerce and SaaS spaceAmazon lets sellers create, customize, and brand their own online stores for example. What is interesting from a user experience perspective is that composers are part of the emergence of a global citizen developer role, a role that now finds itself responsible for tailoring the language in the UI of cloud applications.

Oracle SaaS Release 10 in Dutch. Language changes can be made with a visual composer tool.

Oracle SaaS Release 10 in Dutch. Language changes can be made with a visual composer tool.

Oracle SaaS Release 10 in Dutch. Language changes can be made with composer tools.

The term citizen developer itself presents some difficulty and in many ways is a contradiction in terms. Nobody seriously expects governments, multinational corporations, and bodies of that nature to hand over their implementation or SaaS customization to “citizens” with basic “Hello, World” programming chops.

Instead, think of citizen developers as more about the empowerment of software owners themselves to make their own modifications, be they branding, extensions, localisation, or translation changes. It’s all about enabling customers to take real ownership of their cloud software, without resorting to making source code changes or needing any real software development skills. It’s a low-code or no-code approach, if you like. In other words, citizen development abstracts away the complexity of programming and integration so that user experience can be tailored to your heart’s desire as if by magic. The tool du jour for the job of making your own digital world? Composers. The very word has an element of artistry to it.

Composers are more vital tools than ever now with the advent of SaaS, be they in the hands of the customers, implementation partners, user experience specialists, or design consultancies who don’t usually have, or need, deep-drive software development skills yet know what the desired result should be.

Sandbox-based composers enable Oracle partners, for example, to make SaaS user experience changes quickly and safely for customers, freeing up their own development resources for more critical tasks. Given that 80% of enterprise software applications require customization of some sort, composers are a key part of the partner world’s implementation and maintenance toolkit.

In the multilingual enterprise space, for example, a partner might be asked by a customer to make language changes across their suite of applications quickly and securely, ensuring that the changes are made in just the right places. That’s what’s happened in one case where Oracle PartnerNetwork member and UX champ central Certus Solutions was asked to change the out of the box German translation for performance to another word shown in Oracle’s simplified UI for SaaS. The customer wanted to use the English word instead. Language is a critical part of the UX; like everything else it must be designed.

German Simplified UI customization done using a visual cloud composer

German Simplified UI customization done using a visual cloud composer

If you need the word Performance for your user experience; then so be it! German simplified UI SaaS customization by Certus Solutions (now Accenture) using a visual composer tool.

Other examples might be the desire to change all those U.S. English spellings to the U.K. variant; or to make changes in language that reflect how customers actually structure and run their business. For example, employee might be changed to partner. The label My Team is often changed to My Department, a language change that doesn’t even require a composer right away but can be done at the personalization level with just a click and overtype if you have the right security settings! Some previous translations for the word worker have proven problematic in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, and French, requiring modification for certain customers (let’s not go there). There are lots of examples where composers could be used to change the language of an application or service.

Autumn? Fall? Who cares! Change the language in the SaaS simplified UI easily with a sandbox-safe visual composer.Autumn? Fall? Who cares! Change the language in the SaaS simplified UI easily with a sandbox-safe visual composer.

What is of interest is that very few of these composer tools use localization industry standard procedures or formats and yet seem the better for it. For example, although language changes are made directly into resource bundles or XLIFF files, they are done so at run-time, eliminating context problems. Composer tools rarely have any complex terminology look-up capability, offer TBX support, have language QA features other than spell checkers, and nor do they use translation memory or support TMX. Why not? Well, these things aren’t needed by customers or partners right now and probably would just complicate things.

Perhaps as composers evolve this kind of “traditional translation” functionality might appear. But only if the customers and partners demand it.

Allowing business users to make a language change themselves is more cost-effective, faster, and more secure solution than doing a retranslation or taking a UX hit by deciding to leave the language as is. The result is a better customer experience, faster.

Will translators find themselves out of a job as a result?

Unlikely.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Is Your Development Relations Effort Global?

Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

Just back from a very successful visit to Beijing and Singapore where I delivered PaaS for SaaS enablement to local Oracle partners.

The Oracle Applications User Experience PaaS4SaaS enablement for partners in Beijing and Singapore saw a simplified UI deployed live to an Oracle Java Cloud Service-SaaS Extension service.  Is your tech stack and outreach in sync globally?

The Oracle Applications User Experience PaaS for SaaS enablement for Oracle Applications Cloud partners in Beijing and Singapore featured a simplified UI deployed live to an Oracle Java Cloud Service-SaaS Extension service. Is your tech stack and outreach in sync globally?

Oracle Applications User Experience partner enablement is worldwide, sure. We couldn’t live up to our enablement commitments and bring real software solutions to life in the cloud if we didn’t have an internationalized technology toolkit for partners too. Thanks to Java i18n and Unicode we do. With that baked-in globalization goodness, the sky’s, or should I say the cloud’s,  the limit for what’s possible with global user experience.

If you’ve got examples of how technology internationalization has helped your company go global and reach new audiences, let us know in the comments.

I’d love to hear about worldwide partner outreach or development relations in your company too, from localizing newsletters or tweets to exposing localization or other APIs and multilingual architecture in the cloud.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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How Well Do You Know Your Local User? Take A Walk (or Run) In Their Shoes

Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

How well do you know the local market? What assumptions do you operate on? Well, take a look at this post “Design Time @ Run Time: Putting the Apple Watch Through Its Paces in Beijing” over on the Oracle AppsLab (@theappslab) blog.

Running in Beijing: I survived. My cultural assumptions didn't.

Running in Beijing: I survived. My cultural assumptions didn’t.

It’s a shoutout for the user experience practice of ethnography or doing user research “in the wild”. In this case, I used the example of running in Beijing. I discovered that pretty much everything I thought I knew about that was, well, wrong.

Do you have examples of interesting surprises or false assumptions that you’ve come across about local markets from a cultural or localization perspective?

Find the comments.

 

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Augmented Reality Translation and Wearables: Sit Up and Take Notice

Language in Business, Language Industry News and Events, Translation Technology

About three years ago on Blogos, I wrote about the Visual Quest Word Lens app. I wrote that “there was a lot more than meets the eye” to the app. I also speculated what could happen if the app offered connectivity and was integrated with other platforms.

Recently, I became a Google Glass Explorer and have now spent some time, er, exploring Word Lens on Google Glass. Something much, much, much more interesting has arrived.

Google Glass and WordLens Apps

Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) of the Oracle Applications User Experience team demonstrates Word Lens AR translation on Google Glass at an Oracle UX  event for Oracle applications partners.

All I can say is “wow!”. I was totally knocked out when using Word Lens this way. But beyond that, now that I have begun to formulate emerging use cases, I’m really excited by more immediate practicalities. An augmented reality (AR) translation app and wearable technology  is a natural fit. This combination offers a lot of value in the enterprise as well as for personal use, perhaps even more so.

So, expect to see a lot more integrations of translation tools and wearable platform options discussed, but also coming to life in code, in 2014. As I also predicted earlier on Blogos, you can also expect wearables to appear on the localization conference circuit from now on. With submissions coming from me, for example.

Watch this space…

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Icons: Global UX Considerations Revisited and Translators without Borders

Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

I previously raised the issue of how context of use influences our perceptions of icons, and how globalization “best practices” and guidance about icons and graphics that we read on the web sometimes discounts context to the detriment of user experience.

One great example is the use of the Facebook Like icon.

Facebook 'Like' Button. A Thumbs Up to Global Cultural Design Considerations?

Facebook ‘Like’ Button. A Thumbs Up to Global Cultural Design Considerations?

Usually, we would be told to run a mile from body parts like this from a global design perspective, although the use of a thumbs up or thumbs down icon is frequently encountered in social media applications to indicate positive or negative user reactions to a subject.

Now, research from the Oracle Applications User Experience team, presented at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board meeting in Europe recently, confirms that use of the thumbs up and down icon, and some emotions (smileys to indicate happy or sad emotions) not traditionally associated with enterprise applications design, is acceptable to the vast majority of users, worldwide.

The pervasive, global use of the Internet and social media applications (Facebook in particular I would guess) and the nature of work and enterprise applications use (English as a language of business, globalization and outsourcing of work, multilingual operations, less distinction between personal and work life and technology, and so on) have influenced this acceptance.

You can probably think of other icons that might now be acceptable in places that a few years ago would not have been. Find the comments…

That said, the message from the research is clear: Don’t make assumptions about users or global markets. Research and test with real users in real situations doing real tasks. And do it again… and again… and again…. in real target markets, globally. It’s not hard.

On a related note, I love these clean water icons by way of the Noun Project (@nounproject).

Latrine clean water icon from The Noun Project Iconathon.

Latrine clean water icon from The Noun Project Iconathon. Image referenced from Flickr.

An excellent example of iconic context of use, they remind us of the importance of being able to clearly communicate development-related and health-critical information to those who need it, and volunteering where you can to make life better for everyone.

On that point, why not do something extra nice for Christmas, or the season that’s in it if you prefer, and support the Translators without Borders program.

Happy Christmas all!

Update (18-Oct-2013): The research informing the findings on the “Like” icon and others is now published as a chapter in a book on human-computer interaction (HCI).

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Translation and UX Working Together: Oracle Mobile Applications Example

Language Industry News and Events, Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

I’ve previously written a takeaway article for Multilingual decrying the lack of a clear user experience (UX) focus to the general globalization, internationalization, localization and translation industry. I’ll be revisiting this subject in the magazine later this year. Have things changed? Why is it important anyway? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out!

But here is one great example of translation and UX professionals working together in a win-win situation. Pleased to say that I was the one to initiate this (humility Ultan, please) co-operation. The Oracle Applications Mobile User Experience team and the Oracle Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG) language specialists recently worked together on ethnographic research into mobile workers in Europe (Sweden in this case).

Brent White of the Oracle  Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm.

Brent White of the Oracle Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm. Pic credit: Oracle Applications UX. The Oracle UX team acknowledges Capri's kind permission to use this image.

The UX side benefitted from the local language specialist’s language, market insight and cultural knowledge and WPTG benefitted from advance knowledge of our design thinking and direction so that translation effort resources and materials can be readied in advance.

So, true context of use for everyone up front.

You can read more about this global co-operation on my Oracle Not Lost in Translation blog.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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How to Use the HTML5 Translate Attribute: A Translatability Best Practice

Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

HTML5 introduces a translate attribute that allows fine-grained control over what content should be translated, or not. Richard Ishida of the W3C has all the details of the attribute and its applicability, as well as some interesting insights into how Bing Translator and Google Translate deal with the translatability of content issue.

Here’s an example of the translate attribute’s use, taken from Richard’s blog (the HTML5 spec’s global attributes section has another other nice example, see the Bee Game.):

<p>Click the Resume button on the Status Display or the
<span translate="no">CONTINUE</span> button
on the printer panel.</p>

See how the word CONTINUE is made non-translatable using the translate attribute’s value set to “no”? Blimey! However, there are times when CONTINUE might need to be translated. So, flip that puppy to “yes”.

This HTML5 attribute is a very welcome addition to the content creation and translation tools world, sure.  But, it is very welcome for other reasons too.

This is a time of new interactions and emerging platforms that challenge the established desktop and website norms of what should be translated or not. Mobile, augmented reality, gamification, and other trends, all challenge established norms of content rules. So too, is it a time when companies redefine themselves, cross over, and promote their own design guidance as a differentiator in the market. Oracle, for example, likes to say “Software, Hardware. Complete” so content needs to cross-reference many deliverables. SAP, as another example, recently launched an app in the consumer space (available in German and English) that may require a different style of content and translation from the enterprise applications space. Android has released user experience (UX)  guidance of its own, and so on.

I previously raised such translatability issues in my Don’t Translate: Won’t Translate blog post.  I chipped into the [Bug 12417] discussion about the attribute’s development, too.

Using content to convey a translation instruction, by making a piece of text all uppercase for example, is not a best practice. It is a UX failure, makes personalization and customization difficult, and assumes the consumer of the content is a second-class stakeholder. Frankly, it is also very dangerous. Can you imagine if software developers used text that way in their code, rather than relying on the program logic?

As for the time-honored method of writing a translation note, or description, telling a translator that some content should not be translated, or should be, well such approaches just ain’t reliable or scalable, are they?

Now, there is a clear best practice to follow (and adapt for other formats). The HTML5 translate attribute educates content developers that the best practice for indicating whether content should be translated or not is through the use of markup (or metadata), and not through how the content is written. Translation tools should update to the HTML5 spec requirements and process this attribute asap.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Who is the Language Industry's Chocolate Apple? Comics, Technology, and Culture

Localization Culture

I’ve previously written about the uptake of the comic form in technical communications and some of the translation and cultural challenges.

As part of Oracle’s research into the use of comics as a way of educating technical writers about DITA, I was astounded by the wide range of subjects covered by Japanese manga (漫画). Now, we have Sweet Android Highschool added to that list, chronicling the exploits of the main Android vendors, each in the form of a character: Moto-Laura-chan (Motorola), Sam-Sung-chan (Samsung), H-T-Syee-chan (HTC), Elle-G-chan (LG), Soni-Eri-chan (Sony Ericsson).

Sweet Android Highschool, image credit: weekly.asci.jp

Apple is also in the cast (Apple-kun), naturally.

Sadly, we don’t hear much about comics translation and cultural issues through the usual channels in our industry. Certainly, comics is a serious business–not just for laughs or for kids–and an engaging and interesting conference topic. From interpreting the life of Steve Jobs in manga form to translating TinTin to communicating life saving information in developing countries with low literacy rates there’s plenty of scope for discussion.

Definitely, conducting some user experience research into the use of comics in Europe (France or Belgium perhaps?) and Japan, or other countries in Asia, is something I would be interested in doing.

If you have suggestions for research into the translation and cultural aspects of comics–or any other observations–add ’em using the comments.

Anyone for a manga chronicle of Language Services Provider shenanigans? Who is the industry’s “Chocolate Apple“?

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.