Translating text strings included in any software requires good planning to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Make sure you have the necessary tools to isolate text strings from the rest of the code and correctly translate files in xml, json, yaml or xhtml. Major software developers use a specific vocabulary and word choice (such as that coined by Microsoft) that all users will understand.
What is software localisation?
When a software company decides to launch a product for customers in another country, they should first adapt the product to make it unique, useful and functional for a group of new users. This process is called “software localisation“.
Text translation is only a part of the process. Still, there will always be terms that need to be “localised“. For example, many words used in Castilian Spanish have to be adapted to Spanish spoken in Latin American countries. This would be a sort of localisation.
Why is it important to localise software?
Many companies do not take cultural differences between countries seriously enough, and do not care about making their software easy for their customers to use. It has to look like the product is made for them, that it is not translated or adapted. It has to adapt to bank holidays, dates and time formats, local currency, etc. The customer must be reflected in the product. For example, a photograph of a Western family would not look good on the home page of a website for the China market.
What aspects should you consider when localising a piece of software?
Here are the main points when starting a localisation project:
Linguistic accuracy and translation of image files. All images, icons and logos containing text must be modified and edited with the translated text. All help manuals, and also user guides or error messages, need to be translated.
Measuring units and the currencies will also be adapted. The fields you find in a contact form may also vary: some formats or even the concept of a postal code do not exist in all countries. Currency are very important, as are weight and distance units. You should also consider external services that are incorporated into the software, such as maps, weather apps or payment gateways. In each country one service predominates over another.
Date, time and number formats. Each country has different calendars, different times, different holidays and different time zones. Formats of numbers also change, for example decimals, since in some countries a dot is used instead of a comma.
How is software localisation different from app localization?
App (or mobile application) localisation is a special type of software localization. Although app localisation usually refers to localising and translating apps for mobile devices, it can also refer to web applications.
What does software localisation have to do with internationalisation?
Internationalisation is the process of preparing and planning the code of an application so that it can be easily localised later on, that is, translated. If a developer plans the code of an application for use in only one country or language, it is very likely that he will have to modify that code for internationalisation.
What would a typical localization process look like?
The best way to simplify the software localisation process is that designers create products for international clients from the start, even in the early stages of prototyping and architecture. In general, the more the localisation process is linked to the development process, the easier it will be to launch a localised product. Leaving localisation to the end makes the task more complicated.
Why is it important to have good software localisation tools?
The more advanced the localisation tools are, the fewer restrictions you will have to develop products for international markets and the easier the localisation process will be.
What do the best localisation tools usually offer?
They look for patterns and apply translation memories. This function identifies duplicate content and alerts translators to translated segments previously approved by the client. This improves the quality of the translation, speeds up the process and significantly reduces translation costs.
These tools usually include glossaries and style guides. When translators are made aware of the correct terminology and have access to a customer-endorsed style guide, the quality of the localisation improves. User experience is also improved.
Poor localisation software can ruin your business
It’s the first impression that counts. Many companies that fail to address localisation issues lose their market share to international competitors – all because they do not make a good first impression. Risks are high when localisation is not properly performed. Many companies fail to recover product development and launch costs by falling into basic localisation errors that could have been avoided with a good localisation software and proper planning.