Tips for effective software product localization
Localization is the epitome of user-friendliness: approximately 75% of the world’s people feel more free and confident using products which communicate with them in their native language rather than in English.
Localization is part of the development process
Companies that do not pay proper attention to localization planning often make avoidable mistakes. The main problem comes from inappropriate relationships between developers, localization managers, and translators. Translated texts (usually UI) and localized versions are not updated in sync. For example, the code for certain text areas may not take into account that some languages need more space – and this has to be corrected manually.
This is not the only trouble: the launch may have to be postponed in new geographical areas. Managers often find out too late that not everything is translated or that the developed product is not fully adapted to local standards. And you have to rush to get there – and rushing reduces quality.
Product localization stages and recommendations
So, we can break down the localization process into five stages, combining elements of linguistics, development, and product management.
Stage 1: Checking the source code
Once the source texts are added to the original product, they must be proofread before being sent for translation. Proofreading takes place at several levels, either in the source files or in translation management software. Once you have fixed the grammar and spelling errors, you can move on to the next stage. Additionally, the source material should be evaluated for cultural, technical, and linguistic aspects (this can be done by a localization company).
Step 2: Localization testing (pseudo-localization)
The next step is usually the launching of a pilot language (not English) to test if the stable version is ready for localization. By testing the possibility of localization in one language, it is possible to identify problem areas in the development and design of interface elements.
Feedback is gathered from users of the respective region and testers, as well as third-party specialists. Once all the problems are eliminated, you can begin translating into other languages.
Step 3: Working with a third-party localization company
At this stage, we recommend to stop making changes in the user interface. Lock down the content, and transfer updates to the future sprint. The translation company should be provided with all the necessary materials and information, including the tools and software used for translation (cloud platforms, CRMs, CMSs, and other translation tools). We recommend granting localization access to a working version of the product to understand the context. Localization instructions, style guides, and glossaries should also be provided.
Regular communication within the translation platform, an organizational call to launch the localization, and weekly follow-up calls help achieve a good result.
Step 4: Evaluate translation quality
After a translator completes their work, they usually engage another third-party linguist to evaluate the quality of the localized product and proofread the text. In addition, check out the style, grammar, and spelling for compliance with rules, glossaries, and guidelines. At this point, you can see if there are any strings left untranslated for whatever reason.
Step 5: Correcting the interface and translating the remaining texts
When you receive the completed translation, you can adapt the interface even further if necessary: localize elements such as graphics, fonts, color scheme, and so on.
Finally, it is possible to implement frequent quality checks in the form of linguistic testing. It will improve the product and its perception by users.
Linguistic testing is when a localization specialist tests the assembly on the corresponding local version of the OS. They take screenshots with problems (untranslated text, lines not fitting on the screen, wrong coding, text direction, or context). Make changes to the resource files with the help of the developers.
As we can see, initial and subsequent continuous localization is an integral part of new product development. Therefore, when introducing a product to the global market. It is very important to have a localization strategy in place, use best practices and automate all possible processes.