5 Software Localization Best Practices You Should Live By

5 Software Localization Best Practices You Should Live By

5 Software Localization Best Practices You Should Live By 1920 1080 Sergio Guillén

Software Localization Best Practices for Fast Entry into Markets

If a simple A-to-B translation of your materials was all it took to enter a new market, we’d see a lot more global organizations. Obviously, this isn’t the case. There are numerous factors to consider as you expand internationally. Here are some important software localization best practices to help get you started.

1. Plan on Translated Text Strings Expanding and Contracting

Your most precious piece of intellectual property is likely the design of your software. If your software looks horrible and user-unfriendly, then no one will want to use it. Consequently, you must put in as much energy making sure it looks good as you do getting it to function properly.

As you translate the text into other languages, you must keep in mind that the target text will change in size.

Let’s look at an example. Something as simple as “Have a nice day!” in English becomes a 36-character mouthful when translated into German. That is a 125 percent increase in length. Localization will break your design if you have not left enough space for this.

A two-pronged approach will address this issue. Your design should have enough elasticity to accommodate an expansion of about 35 to 40 percent. Most language strings will be addressed by this rule of thumb.

You should also test and retest early on. Your designers should be involved throughout the process, so they aren’t slammed once the translation phase is completed.

The Globalization & Localization Association (GALA) offers some additional tips for dealing with contracting and expanding text, including adjusting font sizes and having the translator change the length of phrases. For various reasons, these are not software localization best practices.

2. Begin with Product Pages

Introducing your startup to an international audience can be intimidating. If you are unconvinced of the business plan, not sure if your product will scale globally, or have other reservations about localization, you should consider starting small.

Even without making any changes to their apps or software, many organizations have experienced excellent sales gains by just launching a localized product page. However, if you want to test international waters with a localized product page, you have to do it right.

Go over every word of your app store description with a fine-toothed comb, and make sure every pixel of your product’s landing page is just right. If your screenshots have usernames or references to locations (i.e., pictures, time zones, and maps), you must localize these aspects as well.

If your product or brand is a flop in a new locale, you want to be sure that it is due to the lack of interest in the new market and not because of poor execution.

3. Include Punctuation when Coding

When you are coding, the temptation to leave out punctuation is always there. After all, you can just add the punctuation later, right? Or, maybe you think you might reuse the string elsewhere where it would need a totally different punctuation. Resist the temptation to go this route.

Create novel strings for each line of text, and incorporate punctuation in context. With different punctuation, even the same sequence of words might translate differently. For example, there are spaces surrounding a colon in French.

Your French interface will end up with a typo that translators could have helped you avoid if you omit the colon from your string and attempt to put it in later.

4. Time, Currency, and Dates Should Never Be Hardcoded

Throughout the world, date and time formats vary quite a bit. This is also true of currency. You can localize these elements with the help of Java.

Instead of hardcoding currencies, dates, and times, one of the software localization best practices is to code in a universal format, such as ISO time, then format for your specific location by using an open-source library. Date.js is an excellent alternative.

When it comes to date-selection tools, universal formats are particularly helpful. For instance, the U.K. marks Monday as the first day of the week, the U.A.E. starts on Saturday, and the U.S. on Sunday. You can overcome this challenge by utilizing the jQuery UI date picker.

5. Be Ready for Bidirectional Languages

As you are coding, you go from left to right. When you pick up a book or read a news article, it is always left to right. This is the way of most of the world. However, Hebrew and Arabic are the opposite. They read from right to left.

There is a directional property in HTML and CSS, but it will not override “float: right” and “float: left” coded CSS elements. For your right-to-left products, you may need to build a completely new set of style sheets when you have fixed positioning layouts.

It also helps to rely on the skills and experience of the experts. Accelingo has a full complement of software localization services to automate your transition into global markets.

And to keep up with the latest software localization best practices, be sure to check our blog regularly.

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
  • I liked it when you shared that it is important to consider the numerous factors of software localization best practices to consider as you expand internationally to help get you started. It is best to rely on the skills and experience of the experts. I would like to think if a company wants to localize its software, it should consider working with a service that can help with it.

    • Thank you for your contribution, Taylor. Choosing the right localization partner is key to a company’s success in the international market.

  • you are doing such a great job ! Thank you for sharing such a good content . keep it up

  • Wow, this article on Software Localization is spot on! Overall, great article, keep up the good work!

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