Software Localization 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Localization

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Building a successful software business takes a lot of courage and determination, and it usually involves a lot of effort. The possible gain at the end of the procedure is what is worth it. However, software companies can reach customers around the world, whether through the web or some of the most popular app stores. This means that future expansion is essentially unlimited.

However, to take full advantage of this potential, you will almost certainly need to tailor your software to a variety of regional markets, and the term for that is software localization. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the software localization process and all of its components, so let’s get started.

Why is localization important?

Software localization is the process of modifying and optimizing your application for a specific language and geographic location. While translation is an important part of this transition, you may also need to modify your content to meet the needs of the target audience. Everything in your program, as well as your support materials and marketing materials, falls into this category.

Successful software localization has many benefits:

  • Users will have a higher quality experience and post more positive reviews as a result.
  • More sales are driven by localized keywords and product descriptions, with 72% of customers choosing to buy in their mother tongue.
  • Support requests will decrease as accessibility improves.

Since software development takes a lot of time and effort, it makes sense to maximize your product’s overall potential.

How to implement it?

Prepare a plan

Since software localization requires time and resources, it is essential to carefully consider your options. Background research can help determine which markets to focus on, and your technical staff should develop a roadmap for implementation.

Selecting a good platform or vendor, as well as determining what hardware to localize, should all be part of this process. Because they know the process and the technical needs, using a software translation specialist is likely to make the process smoother.

Prepare your content

The majority of software localization solutions require you to submit content from string files. Some solutions can automatically detect strings, while others force you to highlight crucial passages. For this reason, you will probably need to prepare your files anyway.

Of course, strings aren’t the only thing that needs to be localized in your product. Timings, dates, and currencies all need to be adjusted, as do images, audio, and videos. For these items, each location service has its own workflow.

Embed localized content

The method you choose will determine how you integrate the localized material into your software. Some services will send you text that you need to insert manually using a TMS (translation management system). With some systems, you can either upload a new strings file with your translated content, or use an API to import your strings.

Quality assurance testing

Testing is an important aspect of any localization project. Since professional translators are not infallible, it is essential to provide native speakers, preferably professional QA experts, to double-check the translated information.

You should also check that the translations are well integrated into your existing interface. Therefore, you should strive to include on-device testing in your plan.

Common Challenges for Software Localization

There are many languages

Expert linguists estimate that approximately 7,000 languages are currently used worldwide. When you factor in dialects and regional variations, the number grows rapidly. Even for large companies such as Microsoft and Oracle, translating software into each of these languages ​​is impractical.

With these numbers in mind, you need to be very picky about the languages ​​and locales you choose. Consider where you will get the most bang for your buck and prioritize those areas. In general, it is better to cover the most common places in an area than to leave half the population unattended.

Culture differences

Some language issues are difficult to solve, but cultural differences can also cause many problems. As you travel across borders, everything from pop culture allusions to common courtesy can change. For this reason, a localization specialist can turn a direct translation into something that feels natural to native speakers.

Changing your user interface

Interfaces and translations do not always go hand in hand. For example, the number of characters in the translated information is often different from the original. Such changes tend to disrupt specific parts of the user interface. The best way to avoid such problems is to build from the start with location in mind.

Final Thoughts

Localization is a highly technical field, which is why software localization engineers must undergo rigorous training to master this skill. The global software localization market continues to grow, both in number and in complexity. Software localization is not just about translation; it’s about delivering the same service, features, and performance wherever your software is deployed.

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