What You Need to Know to Localize Graphics in E-Learning Courses

Dynamic artwork increases audience engagement. But it can also raise your e-Learning localization costs.

Why? Because translating graphics — that is to say, artwork combining text strings and images, usually created in a design program like Adobe Photoshop, and then exported to a format like JPEG, PNG or TIFF — is surprisingly time-consuming. Especially so because authoring programs like Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate streamline e-Learning localization by exporting all course text into a translatable format. All course text, that is, except for graphics strings.

That means that artwork has to be processed separately from the rest of the course. Even worse, this has to be done manually. That is to say, a DTP specialist must go through each file, extract any text strings, then copy and paste them into an editable format, usually a table. The translated strings then have to be copied and pasted back into each file, plus re-formatted for fit and aesthetic balance. If you have an artwork-heavy course, and you’re translating into a large set of languages, this labor alone can be a major part of your budget.

So what can you do to minimize your graphics localization costs, while maintaining a high level of accuracy and quality?

1. Retain all source artwork files.
Graphics localization DTP is much more time-consuming when the editable source files aren’t available, especially when the text is over a complex picture, as is the case of the third title in the lesson screen above (over the flowers). Not only will this string take longer to replace, but it’s also impossible to “delete” the English text without affecting the background, so that the localized versions won’t look as good. Not an issue, however, if you have source files.

2. Re-create graphics as caption/image combos before localization.
To truly minimize costs, consider taking any text out of your course artwork, then add it back as a caption or text box right in your course timeline. This means creating a new version of your English just for localization, requiring more setup time, as well as stakeholder buy-in from your design and content teams. But in this scenario, all text strings in a course are captured by the software’s automated workflow, which can dramatically lower your overall cost and timeline.

Plan what’s best for your target audience — and your budget.

Ultimately, make sure to pick the localization solution that’s right for you. If design is critical to your course, you may decide to localize graphics fully. If so, make sure your team tracks all source assets, especially when using legacy content. (This is critical for any voiceover and video elements as well.) If you decide to recreate your text, make sure to build this work — as well as internal reviews — into your project timeline. And finally, be sure to leverage SpanSource’s extensive e-Learning translation expertise during setup. We’ll help you manage project costs and produce translated courses that fully engage your international users.

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