We live in a global market. In order to compete with international business, we need to adapt our content and services to the different requirements of each target audience. This involves software localization.
Software localization is key for companies that want to position their products or services worldwide, but also to achieve a much better user experience.
The global enterprise software industry is expected to continue expanding, so it is important that companies plan ahead to avoid missing huge opportunities.
What is software localization?
Software localization is a varied discipline. It involves adapting a software product to the linguistic, cultural and technical requirements of the target market. It includes the software itself and all related documentation. Without localization, many software businesses would not be able to sell products to international markets.
Adapting high-tech products and software to local markets is not an easy task. Skills and expertise are needed to make software approachable to different audiences.
Software Localization includes UI translation (like translating text, buttons and data fields) and UI testing (which means testing if the localized elements are displayed correctly in an interactive way). As it is done by integrating different services such as translation, localization and rewriting, professionals who localize software must also have linguistic skills, cultural knowledge and an understanding of how software works.
In this process, there can be codes next to the content. It is fundamental that the team in charge of running these tasks also knows about coding, otherwise there is a huge risk of losing valuable information.
How to avoid software localization mistakes
These are some of the most common mistakes done in software localization:
- Not Planning: It is extremely important to plan ahead. It is key to analyze the target audience and the target language so the localization is done well. Each audience is unique, and the message must be directed correctly. This also means considering the deadline and timeframe, as well as the industry standards. A marketing strategy and localized testing is something that companies should consider from the very beginning.
- Thinking only about the target language: The same languages vary a lot depending on the region in which it is used. When the target language is specified but not the country code, localization may fail. It is necessary to be precise, and to do so it is highly recommended to use a full locale.
- Context and content: Languages can be ambiguous. Since the localization process implies that different people will be involved along the way, it is key to provide context around the content, to ensure that the actual meaning is respected.
- Images that contain text: Separating text from graphics is recommended. Although images can help users to understand messages better, when part of the message is shown in the images, the translation process may be slowed down. To achieve an efficient translation, it is recommended that images do not include text.
- Testing for localization: When the source content contains mistakes and it is localized in other languages, the consequences can be immense. To assure quality within software localization, there can never be too much testing. This means checking for mistakes in functionality and coding, grammatical errors, capitalization, localizability issues and inconsistencies. It is highly recommended that the software is tested by a native speaker of the target language.
Why companies should localize their software?
Any company that has products, platforms or operative systems and wants to position them in the global market should consider adapting and perfecting the content or support into their target language. Software localization is used wherever it is required to give the product global exposure.
Developing a comprehensive approach can help any company to overcome cultural barriers. It is also important to pay special attention to user-support content; the translation of help files, user guides and video instructions is fundamental.
The localization of software can help to improve the user experience. In the case of multilingual audiences, it is key that the public can understand the content and how to interact with the specific software. Adapting the content differently improves its functionality.
Software localization allows companies to position themselves globally, and it is a must-have to be competitive in the international market.