A Viable Approach to Cutting Localization Costs
Localization aims to facilitate the company’s reach to a broader audience by providing a unique experience. The principles of MVP can help startups localize just enough features of their product to establish their brand on the market while keeping localization costs at a minimum level.
Avoid Incorrect Assumptions
As a startup with limited resources, it is critical to carry market research and use all available tools to determine the market and/or languages that you should localize for. Do not simply assume that your product will be treated by foreign-market users the way it was domestically, as that can actually entail increased localization costs.
The idea of the minimum viable product (MVP) popularized by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup, aims to help startups satisfy the early customers’ expectations while gathering feedback for their product and saving costs.
Similarly, one of the best approaches to localization is to probe the market—localize the essential features of your product for one language and use the feedback for your future localization projects. The market research data helps avoid incorrect assumptions for the users and make informed decisions about the target audience. A good tip to follow is to “work with users to think like a user” as Bishr Tabbaa, IT Manager and Board Director at FamilyTreeDNA, suggests in one of his articles on Principles, Practices, and Proverbs of Enterprise Software Development.
Prepare for Localization in Advance
In order to reduce localization costs, internationalization—the advance planning and preparation for localization—becomes essential. No matter whether you write a text for an app, software, or game, you need to make sure that the strings you use can be easily translated in other languages without affecting your code. Use strings that avoid redundancies and avoid integrating variables in a sentence.
Once you extract the strings to be translated, make sure to choose a translation-friendly format like an Excel table, for example. Thus, the file will be ready for localization in every possible language that you can think of without further efforts. Note, that you may be charged more in case the translation agency has to work with more complex file formats.
Aim for Less
In order to minimize translation costs, you can apply the following principles:
- Avoid verbosity
Try to make the text meant for localization concise and straight to the point by shortening your sentences and cutting fluff. It is a win-win strategy as:
- you will save on localization costs as linguists usually charge per word
- your users will thank you for the simplified text
When choosing how much of the wording you can cut, you can apply the Pareto Principle that only 20 percent of your product is used by 80 percent of your customers. Thus, you can localize only 20 percent of the documentation or even come up with a lighter version of the manuals following the idea of the MVP.
- Use art (images, videos)
A picture is worth a thousand words. Visuals can help you save on localization costs. A short video can be a better tutorial than a how-to manual and cost less to be localized. An image without text will need no localization at all, in most of the cases, and will be welcomed by the end users.
Note: When choosing visual art, try to avoid embedding text with images, graphs, or tables as that can increase localization costs.
- Resist recurrent cosmetic updates
It is clear that you will need to update and upgrade your products, but when it comes to software or app localization, make sure to send only those updates for translation that really matter. If you have decided on a cosmetic update of the UI or you have corrected a few typos, it is not necessary to have those changes localized as they won’t affect the overall translation and final user experience.
When updating a document, make sure that the changes are significant enough to be sent for localization—avoid cosmetic or non-technical changes. Whenever possible, reuse strings and sentences, as in most cases, that will result in lower localization costs as your provider already has them translated and stored.
How to Decrease Your Future Localization Costs?
Budget is one of the scarecrows for startups, hence good planning of each and every investment is necessary. When it comes to localization, it is good to know that it is a scalable process and you can take advantage of its benefits at any given time of the life cycle of your product.
In order to decrease your localization costs, it is necessary to make a wise investment in the beginning. Selecting the right vendor is a must as poor product localization can ruin your brand name even before it is established. The cheapest localization price quite often equals bad quality and entails hidden costs for extensive QA sessions, revision, and even retranslation.
The takeaway is that you can reduce your localization costs by selecting a reliable provider that can guarantee consistency, quality, and integrity of the overall localization process. You can then work with the agency in future localization projects and expect the same level of localization and support.
You can learn more about how to reduce localization costs by reviewing our white paper on How Translation Technology Can Help You Scale Your Startup Internationally.