Software Localization: Problems, Tips and Benefits

October 24, 2016

In the modern world based on globalization, any market is international, and development of a product only for one particular neighborhood is not enough to succeed.

To access foreign markets, a product (for example, software) should be localized. However software localization is not only about translation into different languages. It is the process of adapting software to linguistic, cultural and technical characteristics of a target country.

The principal differ of software localization from traditional translation is that software localization is usually being done in parallel with the development of a product. Otherwise you will most likely have to re-write the entire software that is time consuming and expensive.

Misunderstanding of the term “software localization” often leads to various problems that always mean waste of time and money.

Some developers forget about technical differences, such as character sets, measuring units, number format, date format, address format, default fonts. They all must be considered, as well as translation itself.

Another common mistake is neglecting of cultural differences, while adapting to the culture of a target country may help cover a larger audience.

Speaking about translation, the main problem is to find a proper translator. This person should not only be fluent in a target language and understand peculiarities of a target country, but also be familiar with developed software, have a very good knowledge in the technical field and be proficient with the specific vocabulary.

To avoid probable mistakes in software localization we suggest you to use following tips.

First of all, make a plan. It may be very detailed, but in general it consists of a few basic steps:
- analysis of the material that is meant for localization;
- cultural, linguistic and technical assessment;
- choice of tools and resources;
- translation into a target language;
- adaptation of the user interface, graphics and other media;
- testing of a localized product.

Also, establish a realistic schedule of an entire process and define deadlines for each stage of your plan.

If possible, outsource localization to specialized companies, or hire a team of high-skilled professionals.

Well-worked software localization may result in a lot of benefits both, for users and developers.

The rumor that all foreigners understand English is a myth, that’s why nowadays it is not wise to use only English language for your products. Localization helps users all other the world understand software better no matter where it was produced. Thus they can manage it more efficiently and avoid various mistakes.

Benefits for developers are connected with the modern state of things at the market. Software market is very fierce and competitive, so it’s localization that makes difference between success and failure.