Your software has done well in your market. You want to grow your business through software localization.
However, it’s easier said than done, many software teams fail to implement a successful software localization management system because they don’t understand what software localization is or where to begin.
In this article, we’ll briefly explore what software localization is, along with its best practices, and help you guide which software localization tools or service is better for you.
What is Software Localization?
Software localization (l10n) is the process of preparing your software product for the global market by making it for users who speak other native languages and live in other parts of the world. It’s more than just translating your page to other languages; it adjusts user interfaces on a cultural level.
A successfully localized software should feel culturally authentic and regional to blend with the local audience’s preferences. Since a good user experience is based on how seamlessly a user can understand the page, window, labels, icons, or screen, hence, If the content is easy to understand and relatable to the audience’s culture, the product will be perceived as more valuable and appealing.
Implementing Software localization requires a repeatable, efficient process that, no matter how many languages you use to operate in, you can do without any hassles and complications.
Therefore, let’s look at some of the software localization processes required for implementing a software localization process.
Real Software Localization Examples
Here are some examples of companies that have set the bar high for software localization.
Google excels in software localization, employing top experts for diverse user experiences.
It localizes in a culturally appropriate approach to find the most accurate answer, which ensures that all searches on its search engine are regionally based.
Airbnb offers 191 countries-wide rental services for local property owners, enhancing unique experiences.
It allows travelers to automatically translate reviews into their local languages so they can make the best choice.
Dropbox translation team translates their user experience in over 20 languages across 180 countries.
The file hosting service translates everything on their page into other languages for a diverse user experience.
Software Localization Processes
Software localization can be done in 3 different processes. Using the traditional Waterfall localization, modern continuous localization, and the agile method. Each approach has its pros and cons, and opting for the proper software location process largely depends on the software localization company’s needs and goals for the project.
The waterfall localization process occurs at a specific period in the software development cycle; it either happens when software development has been completed (the post-release method) or during a specific period ( the string freeze method).
The localization service providers translate the text, after which the software strings are manually uploaded to the software application to merge with the code and publish.
Benefits of Waterfall Localization:
- It takes no time to market in your native language because localization begins right after development is completed and the product is released.
- The model is simple and easier to implement.
- Waterfall localization allows companies to keep the focus on the end goal
Challenges of Waterfall Localization:
- It could be costly to fix localization bugs
- Delays the transition and slows product release in multiple languages
- Risk of poor UX
- High risk of design breaks when the software is translated
Tips for Handling Waterfall Localization:
- It’s essential to plan and set deadlines when implementing Waterfall localization
- Use a software localization management system to expedite the localization process
- Test the software localization process before releasing it
2. Continuous Localization
A modern solution for localizing your product is Continuous Localization, which is an automated process that is seamlessly integrated with the CI/CD method used by software companies to deliver software to customers frequently.
Moreover, continuous localization allows development to work on software for different regions and in various languages in parallel.
Benefits of Continuous Localization
- Decreased risk of localization errors
- Release in multiple languages at once
- Get quick feedback from all the clients sooner
Challenges of Continuous Localization
- It could take a longer time to launch as localization is integrated into the product development stage
Tips for Handling Continuous Localization
- Automate manual process
- Create workflow templates
3. Agile Localization
Agile localization works by syncing the development process so that they are both operating simultaneously.
The software localization automatically recognizes new and modified strings and delivers them when they are prepared for merging and publication.
Benefits of Agile Localization
- The more consistent and predictable flow of work
- Shorter time-to-market by incorporating localization at the start of the project
- Eliminates tedious and manual parts of the process
Challenges of Agile Localization
- Agile localization requires excellent collaboration between teams, as all the work is done at once.
- The agile methodology requires extra effort for workflow
Tips to Handle Localization
- Train and equip the team for seamless collaborations
- Agile localization is preferred for only small projects
- It is only suitable for specific languages or cultures
Waterfall vs. Continuous Localization: What’s the Difference?
Waterfall and continuous localization adopt completely different approaches for managing software local proceeds. Waterfall methodology involves creating an entire process of your process and then moving it for localization; with continuous localization, the development side submits small segments of the application at a time.
Waterfall localization is segmented into several phases, such as planning, developing software, and finally, localization, whereas continuous integration uses a modern agile approach in which localization works simultaneously with development.
What is the Cost of Software Localization?
The code localization services can depend on your software product requirements and expectations.
If you want high-end, expert-level software localization services and freelancers can provide you with professional translators with specialized expertise in your target region and language. They can charge an USD 0.06 – 0.15 per word or USD 20 – 40 per hour.
Whereas, translation services at the lower end of the market frequently employ native speakers to provide their services, with charges usually around USD 0.08 per word.
8 Software Localization Best Practices
Implementing a diligent software localization strategy requires collaboration between development and translation services, but following these eight software localization best practices can effectively simplify the process.
1. Manage Your Code to Handle Multiple Languages
Managing your code to handle multiple languages is crucial for software localization. A placeholder enables the insertion of dynamic content, such as words, strings of symbols, or special characters.
The same placeholder you are using varies based on the programming language and platform you’re using. Still, all of them, if appropriately developed, tell your application or web page to show the correct translation for the chosen language instead of using a specific word.
In addition, make sure to provide instructions and context in whatever you can so that the software localization tool or the translator knows where in the UI a given string appears and how it will alert the final product.
2. Use Separate Resource Files
One of the reasons localization processes fail is the usage of hard-coded localizable elements that are highly complex to handle, so you’ll have to start by identifying localizable files and making separate files for each language you need your software in.
Use file types like Apple strings, JSON, XLIFF, ARB, YAML, Android Resources, or XLIFF. Additionally, the file formats you choose will depend on the programming language or framework you use.
To ensure clean translation content, it’s best to logically group each set of translations by nesting strings and provide a clear name for each string that describes its reference and location.
3. Check That Images and Symbols Make Sense
Another essential practice of software localization is ensuring that the media and symbols you upload for the target market are relevant to their cultural sense.
For instance, in the US, the folded emoji is commonly interpreted as an informal high-five symbol, whereas in India, it has a different meaning, it’s meant to refer to prayer hands, and in Indonesia, it is a sign of gratitude.
That said, review media and emojis before localizing software to avoid misunderstanding offenses.
4. Understand and Accommodate Design Preferences
Understanding design preferences allows software engineers to develop products for specific cultural and regional preferences.
Many regions have varying preferences for user interfaces and design styles.
For example, users in Japan prefer more detailed and feature-rich designs that provide loads of helpful information about the product, as it helps them through the buying process. In the Western market, the curves favor more simplistic designs, prioritizing easy-to-understand approach and readability.
5. Build in Space as Language Length Will Change
Different languages take up different spaces on the webpage, so when localizing text, you should keep in mind the reader will grow or shrink.
Translating English to Swedish can contract text up to 35%, whereas translating Engulfing to the German language can expand the text spacing to 35%. Not to mention, if you translate English into East Asian languages such as Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, you will see the vertical expansion from English.
6. Use Software Localization Tools
Using a software localization tool or translation management tools can significantly help you to implement many of these essential practices.
A software localization tool is designed to support software localization management, and all the other translation processes inefficient localizing.
They help to organize the localization workflow, track the process of translation projects, and reduce manual tasks thanks to Automated workflow tools.
7. Plan with Locale in Mind
Translating content into regional languages is not all you need for localizing a product; as you expand in a local market, locale becomes important.
Some languages might sound the same, but that doesn’t mean their culture is the same. Even within the English language, variations in words, phrases, idioms, and sentences can be observed across regions such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Caribbean.
Therefore, all the locales have slightly different styles of speaking, different cultural expressions, and unique ways of approaching your product.
8. Leverage Translation Memory
Translation memory is a great way to save time and money, it is a database of translations that stores all the previous translations.
For example, If a string, such as “Welcome,” has been translated previously, translation memory can recognize this and suggest the same translation.
Common Software Localization Challenges
Although software localization is crucial for companies looking to expand their products and services to new markets, it can be a complex process. Here are four common software localization challenges and some effective strategies for overcoming them.
1. Accuracy and Context
Accurate translation is vital to any successful software localization tool. One of the biggest hurdles in a software localization project is lacking context.
Translators heavily rely on context to understand the meaning of the text they are provided with; however, the case is different from software localization services. Translators receive software strings in spreadsheet form.
Make sure to provide translators with the proper context so that the translation is precise.
2. Inconsistent Translations
Users can be irritated by inconsistent translations. They degrade the user experience and give the impression that your product is poorly translated.
For localizing products, consistently is the key, “use it”, “signup” or “sign up”? “upload” or “post”?
3. Formatting Problems
To fully localize your product and make it usable by users, you need to alter additional elements in addition to your text translation. For instance, there are different regional formatting variations and conventions for writing dates, times, times, currencies, and addresses.
For example, If your software was initially written in American English for the American market, and you are now localizing it for the European market, you will need to change your date formatting as well because, in Europe, the standard format is day/month/year, whereas, in the US, it’s month/day/year.
Whether you are releasing a new update for your software or fixing some bugs, mainly, these updates will include elements that will be required to be localized. This means an ongoing localization strategy needs to be in place for fast turnarounds.
Also, for effective software localization management, look for software localization services that make it simple to request updates as needed.
Best Software Localization Software and Services
Software localization software and services are responsible for crucial localization elements, which makes it essential to have the best service. Let’s look at some of the best software localization software.
Wordspath is the fastest-growing software localization service that provides cost-effective language solutions in more than 150 languages.
It ensures high-quality software localization services, ranging from translation services to AI data solutions.
GUI/UI localization is our expertise. We are expericed in localizing text, dialog boxes, menus, instrctions, and all materials where software involves. Our linguistics have intensive knowledge of different industries and well know how to localize your software in the right way.
Wordspath also provides full suite of multimedia elements for software localization. Any graphics, audio and video you use in your software will be well managed for localization purpose.
Before we deliver the project, Wordspath leverage a professional QA tool to conduct fully software localization testing. In this way, you won’t worry about bugs and mistakes before your software released in the new market, which might cost a huge lost.
If you need help to boost your software audience, learn more about the professional software localization services.
Lokalise is one of the most popular software localization companies that has set the localization bar high.
Agile teams can use Lokalise to translate web and mobile apps, games, software, marketing, and documents.
PhraseStrings is a reliable translation management system with great tools for localizing software.
Companies such as Uber, Shopify, and Volkswagen have relied on PhraseStrings for their localization services.
Finally, software localization is the first step in expanding into new markets. Having successful software localization can help you expand your software to many locales by adapting to their cultural changes.
By localizing their products, companies can create regionally friendly and engaging for users in different ways, improving adoption and retention.