Do you want your software to be used all over the world? If your answer is yes, it’s time to think about localization. Localizing your software is a crucial step if you set your sights on global success.
In this article, you can learn the basics of the software localization process and how multilingual software ensures an efficient and cost-effective expansion of your product around the world.
What is Software Localization
Software localization is the adaptation of your system or application to meet the requirements of a specific language and culture.
The process typically requires not only switching to languages but modifications to the user interface, including all images, text, and multimedia. Along with this, localization can include modification of the cultural and country-specific aspects like:
- Hand symbols, gestures, and signage
- Culturally appropriate images
- Dates, times and currency formats
- Spelling and phrasing in different dialects
- Right-to-left languages adjustments
When done well, localization adapts the software in linguistic, cultural, and practical terms to the point that the new audience feels like the software they use was initially created for their country.
Reasons to Localize Your Software
Businesses that don’t include localization in their strategy risk not becoming global, ever. That’s why many start-ups emerged in the 21st century, during the age of globalization, understand the need for product localization. It’s the way you can reach a variety of markets, expand your client base and, as a result, grow the revenue.
People often talk about English as a global language. But, when we are talking about products and software, focusing only on English-speaking markets neglects a large chunk of the world population.
There are approximately 7.9 billion people worldwide, and 1.5 billion people speak English. However, only about 360 million of them speak English as their first language, meaning most English-speaking world is more comfortable working with other languages.
Even in single-language countries, many potential customers may speak different languages. If your target market is multilingual, some may be more comfortable with one language over the other. Let’s take the example of the USA. While its most population speaks English and Spanish, many additional languages are spoken across the country too. The list includes Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, German, French, Arabic, and more.
Here are the reasons why software localization is important for international businesses and what are the benefits of having localized software.
Reach New Markets Quicker
Localization makes your content and marketing messages more appealing to new audiences. Thus, localizing your software helps you gain new customers and their trust. As a result, your users are more likely to spread the word about the product.
With localization incorporated into your software development process, you’ll be ready to deploy to several markets once your product is ready. At the same time, it’s a much more expensive and time-consuming process to localize software after the development. We’ll cover more about the differences in these approaches later in this article.
Expand Your Customer Base
Localization ensures your customers enjoy your product and share their experiences with others. If your customers can understand your product easily, what it is, what it does, and why it’s the right choice for their needs, they’ll naturally be more willing to buy and recommend it.
Improve the User Experience and Brand Visibility
Localization is what can improve your brand development and loyalty, as it’s one of the ways to deliver a personalized experience to your customers. No big surprise, people love personalization and prefer to stick to brands they love, even if there’s a cheaper alternative. While the alternative could offer similar features, the overall customer experience of the chosen brand is what keeps them coming back.
Moreover, people often look at average ratings and user reviews before choosing between competing products. A localized product user experience will help yours stand out from the rest.
Grow Your Revenue
Product localization can lead to improved sales numbers in the region your business targets. Many people prefer buying local than global. By using region-specific keywords, phrases, and language, you can get more traffic to your website and other marketing materials. As a result, you receive more conversions and leads.
Waterfall or Continuous Localization: Which One Is Best for Business
As in business strategies, there are different types of approaches to localization. In this part, we’ll describe the waterfall approach vs continuous localization.
Waterfall localization is the old-fashioned way people dealt with localization when there were no localization management platforms. In this approach, the localization is implemented at the very end of the software development cycle. To receive a final localized product, software development teams need to hand over corresponding source files to the localization team after the product is finished. Thus, the final new version could be released once a year or a half.
The main job is to translate the product and support documentation. There is no collaboration between the localization team, the product development team, marketers, and other departments. Due to this, there are a lot of misunderstandings. The localization team needs additional context and clarification. It’s difficult to obtain them and manage the work process with the described approach.
Besides being time-consuming, this approach includes the risks of high costs to fix localization errors and bugs and poor UX or broken design. And the “cherry on the top”, once the translated text is completed, the software strings are manually uploaded back into the software for merging and publishing.
Localization after development is no longer an option. Development time has shortened, and translation time should too. The waterfall localization approach is not adapted for this.
You need another solution – continuous localization. The main objective of this approach is to automate tasks that require manual intervention or involvement from developers, automate content delivery to translators, and provide quicker release cycles.
Continuous localization syncs the localization process with the development process so that they are both running in parallel. New and modified strings are automatically detected by the localization software and delivered whenever they are ready for merging and publishing. It gives you more efficiency and flexibility when it comes to your localization workflow.
Find out what benefits each team can receive from continuous localization in our free e-book that includes our own experience and thoughts about this approach for each department and the opinions of more than 10 experts from the localization sphere.
The Process of Software Localization: Step-By-Step
To put it in simple words, continuous localization of software is a never-ending working cycle with the following key steps:
Resource file extraction or repo connection
You’ll need to extract your resource files in one of the formats supported by the localization platform and then upload them to begin the translation process. To minimize the manual work, you can install an integration with GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, or Azure Repos. With its help, you can synchronize source and translation files between your repository and translation project in Crowdin. All translated and approved files will be automatically pushed as a pull request to the l10n branch in the repo.
Managing and translation step
Managers define the project scope, can enable machine engines or translation memory pre-translation, and assign tasks to linguists for translation. With more than 150 apps available on Crowdin Store, you can sync content with code repositories, CMS, and design tools, like Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD.
On Crowdin, translators can work from the Editor. Online Editor is designed to bring together all the information translation teams might need while working on the content. MT and TM engine suggestions, comments, search, filters, context, file preview, and terminology. Everything is in one place. Along with the regular features, you can install apps from the Store and extend the Crowdin Editor even more.
No time to find professionals to translate your software content? Order translations from Crowdin Language Services in just a few clicks.
Proofreading and quality review
Translation proofreading is typically one of the last stages of the translation process. As soon as the translation is completed, a proofreader can review the text and spot and correct any mistakes. To make things easier, you can enable Quality Assurance checks that help you deliver accurate, clear, and error-free translations.
Insertion into code
Once you’re happy with the quality and accuracy of your translations, it’s time to insert your localized strings back into your code. You can pull them from the localization platform, then import and deploy or, as mentioned above, use integration with your repo to decrease manual actions.
What is localization testing? Usually, it’s the final step when the localized software is tested for a specific region, locale, or culture. The purpose of doing localization testing for software is to test appropriate linguistic and cultural aspects for a particular locale and its users.
The major product area affected by localization testing includes content and UI.
During the process, you need to pay attention to the aspects like:
- Product UI
- Default language per location
- Currency, date, and time formats
- Design and visuals per the targeted country or region
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Best Practices for Software Localization
You can’t be too careful when it comes to your product representation. If you don’t want to spend months fixing localization bugs, make sure you consider these common issues and follow our advice.
Software Localization with Crowdin
If you’re searching for a suitable technology vendor for the localization of your software, you can:
- Sign up for a free trial of Crowdin to see the platform in action.
- Book a demo with one of our specialists and get answers to all of your questions to make your localization path more smooth.
- Watch a recorded on-demand demo to learn the main features of the platform.