The age of globalization has taught us so much about the importance of being sensitive to other cultures. In terms of SaaS and applications, approaching a target market in their native language will always go much further than simply offering an English version.
If you think that the development stage was the hardest part and all the following tasks are easy-breezy, brace yourself: the localization process and final release into a foreign market can be quite difficult. Next to the obvious language gap, you might also have issues with recruiting quality checkers from an entirely different culture, trusting assessments of a language you don’t understand, and efficiently allocating resources.
The bright side is that you are certainly not the first developer to release your product to a foreign market. This means that you can learn from the mistakes of others without having to experience them yourself and find localization best practices to apply to your project. Here are 5 of the most important things to remember as a developer as you’re working with translators and localization experts to get your software out there:
- Consult with Specialists
Product localization is a part of your development project weighing just as much as any other stage in your project. If you were stuck on a problem, would you bring in development specialists to help you take a look at the problem from an expert perspective? If you would – you should do the same with localization.
The reason specialists will help you perceive localization efforts in the right way is that they will enable you to see dimensions of the prism that you didn’t even think about. No matter how hard you analyze, localization is nuanced, it happens in stages and it should always be carried out carefully. You can order consultation and help in this translation services online that provides the best localization of software.
As a result, consultations with experts will give you a much clearer picture of how much resources you should allocate to localization of your software. This will decrease the likelihood of going over-budget due to miscalculation and reduce your chances of project failure.
- Don’t Forget about Culture Elements
The very reason why translation and localization are two separate concepts is that localization goes much deeper than language. It implies a complete and seamless adaptation of content into another culture, which implies symbols, icons, colors and much more.
Pay attention to these elements in your software localization project:
- idioms and phrases – these fixed structures of languages are where most fatal localization mistakes happen
- beliefs and morals – religions and belief systems are a crucial part of any culture and should be taken into consideration in the localization process
- symbols – cultures around the world use different symbols to denote the same things
- date formats – mistakes in date formats can trigger annoying mistakes (was the meeting booked for 2/3 or 3/2?)
- systems of measurement – meters, yards, inches, Fahrenheit, Celsius… don’t confuse your users with wrong measurement units
- Find a Localization Platform
It’s definitely worth it to invest some extra time into research before you commit to a big product localization project with an agency. Take a look at this service that can offer the best translation service to compare some of the best translation and localization platforms in the world. Ideally, you would find a reliable partner that can provide high-quality translations even under strict deadlines.
It will be much easier to localize your software if you work with language experts who have experience in the field. Even though it might seem straightforward to you as a developer, placeholders, syntax and formats are not something every language expert is acquainted with.
- Prepare your Code
The easiest way to make sure localization is done efficiently is to separate the texts from the actual code. The only guarantee that your code will remain untouched by translators is if you provide them with localize-only content.
From the localization expert’s side, it’s also much more efficient for them if they receive only the texts they are supposed to adapt. This will save them the effort of avoiding variables, code snippets and all those other thingies that do not require localization.
You can use comments and notes to communicate your needs with the localization as part of their file. If something goes wrong, either from the stage where you extracted pure text or a localizer translated something they shouldn’t have, it will be spotted in the testing phase.
- Spend Time on Testing
Regardless of whether it’s a plain human error, a typo or a major mistake, testing is the best way to make sure every imperfection is eliminated from your localized software application. You should aim to go through at least one quality assessment, in which localization analysts will validate translations.
It’s not recommended to cut back on testing, and you should never skip the phase altogether, as it can have massively negative consequences. You would be surprised how many teams skip the testing phase because of tight deadlines.
As you can see, there is room for error in every step of the localization project. However, if this is your first time localizing software, you should consult specialists with experience in the field, work with experts to make sure your translations and adaptations are correct, make necessary changes to your code, and most importantly – test, test, test!
You also shouldn’t underestimate the importance of quality localization: it will play one of the biggest roles in your success in the foreign market you’re entering. Fatal localization mistakes made by companies that failed to invest enough in high-quality language services made perfectly good software and games turn into a flop on the respective markets.
Be a developer that understands and celebrates the importance of cultural sensitivity and good localization – in other words, be sensitive to the work of your fellow localization experts!
Mark Blackwood is a professional writer and translator working in the localization industry for over 5 years. Next to working on translation and localization projects in the company, he also runs the social media page of TheWordPoint translations. Mark speaks 5 languages and he’s currently learning Mandarin.