How to Localize Software: 4 Keys to Success

How to Localize Software: 4 Keys to Success

How to Localize Software: 4 Keys to Success 1920 1080 Sergio Guillén

Localization Services Start with Adaptable Software

Creating software with an eye for expanding into international markets is an art. You must identify what aspects will remain constant and what will need to be localized. With the following tips, you will be well on your way to knowing how to localize software like a pro.

How to Localize Software Like a Pro?

Before we learn how to localize software, let’s look at what software localization is. It’s essentially the process of translating and adapting software to the culture, legal requirements, and language of a specific locale. GALA goes into more detail defining software localization.

In most instances, localization will require changing images, documentation, the user interface (UI), and other user-visible components of the software. Yet, the effort is worth it because localized software will let your users connect with your software in a locale and language that is native to them.

Internationalization (referred to as i18n) and localization (sometimes called l10n) work hand in hand. The internationalization process for software developers involves designing a user-interface that is localizable.

They must also extract keyboard usage, user-visible strings, locale-specific data, and all other localizable elements out of the source code of the application and external files that can be accessed easily for translations. The software localization process is streamlined when internationalization takes place first.

Now that you have a primer on how to localize software, let’s look at some of the best practices to ensure your project is a success.

1. Create a Localization Strategy

How will localizing your software serve your overall goals? You need to be clear about this from the beginning. Take extra care in your design phases and requirements analysis to avoid failure. Make sure your stakeholders agree on which target markets to enter and explore the problems unique to them.

Software localization is not a task. It is a strategy for global success. If you want to take advantage of a market opportunity down the road, you will never have to re-engineer your software once you make your goal global readiness.

You can cut cost overruns and schedule delays when you start with a localization-friendly design. This features source structure and code that help prevent translation errors, replication of source bugs in target files, and other common software localization errors.

To keep your brand presence consistent, use templates. And, before you launch your design, do plenty of testing and retesting.

Localization relies upon internationalization. Therefore, as you resolve how to localize software into numerous languages, you can avoid rework by building an internationalized object library that could include right-to-left text support, UI design elements, multi-byte character support, and more.

2. Plan Ahead for Translation Challenges

Different languages have different pluralization rules, use different numbers of words to express the same ideas, and have varying sentence structures. Clear and concise source content will minimize translation challenges.

Some ways to simplify your content are to avoid synonyms, use brief sentences, skip acronyms, avoid phrases with several nouns in a row, and use standard English word order when possible. Also, don’t use the same word as a verb, noun, adjective, etc.

According to Oxford, English has an inordinately large vocabulary. Consequently, English word strings tend to contract or expand when translated into other languages. Therefore, you need to have expansion in mind as you create your web designs.

For example, if your site has a “Checkout” button, the text is likely to expand as you translate into German. You do not want the text stretching outside of the button. To avoid this, add up to 35 percent or more empty space to give the text room to expand when translated.

3. Avoid Hardcoding Text

When you are ready to localize, text embedded in the source code needs to be extracted for translation. Translatable text can be identified using a parser, but if you can minimize hardcoded text at the design level, you will be better off.

For product names, error messages, titles, and other elements that must be translated, use separate resource files.

Hardcoded text is one of the 10 common mistakes in software localization that PhraseApp outlines in this article.

4. Talk to an Expert

When you choose an experienced language service provider (LSP) for localization services, you will get optimized processes and insights that will save you money, rework, and time. Before kicking off your software localization project, ask your provider plenty of questions to ensure a successful relationship.

You can prevent under and over localization when you supply your LSP with a do-not-translate list. If a string with a critical function within a program is incorrectly translated, it will impact the code’s functionality.

There is an 80/20 rule to globalization. Basically, about 80 percent of your content will be constant across markets, while 20 percent is localized. You will transform users’ experiences when you truly understand local markets and incorporate design and development that is culturally sensitive.

Sergio Guillén

As the CEO of Accelingo, I believe in a globalized world where businesses flawlessly share their message across different cultures. I strive to empower startups to scale up globally and take over the world by providing compelling multilingual content that preserves their brand’s message and identity while increasing their reputation and visibility among global clients and partners. If you’re an ambitious startup hungry for international success, get in touch with me today and let’s find out how your startup can benefit from my expertise!

All stories by: Sergio Guillén