Software Localization

What is Software Localization and Why Does it Matter?

The first time most people encounter software localization happens when they boot up their computers or mobile devices and see each element translated in their language. As one can see, even running Windows 10, various elements reflect the language specifics and even the country (in certain aspects). It can be explained by software localization’s being checked not only by translators but also by those who understand the code and work in the field of graphic design and marketing. It is a painstaking process of each code line processing where an accuracy factor always comes first. Once all of these aspects are combined, it becomes possible to achieve professional results where localization helps adjust every crucial factor that makes our translated content accurate and accessible for a target audience.

  1. Making Things Unique. The purpose of software localization is to make your content original in terms of fitting the country and the foreign audience. While one may suppose that it is sufficient to provide translation of the text bits that are met once in a while, localization takes one step further by providing adjustment of the menus, various graphic elements, and the error messages. If we are dealing with something technical like Windows or macOS, it is not that challenging since we are dealing with the interface patterns. Yet, if our software relates to healthcare or accounting, it is vital to know the slang words and specifics that are used only in a certain field.
  2. The Balance of Code and Translation. Unfortunately, starting with localization is not always easy, yet one thing is for certain, – it will always take time. Therefore, one should take time to explore the 10 most common localization bugs in websites and software. You can also create a checklist to ensure that nothing is missed. The most important is to avoid hard-coding the text lines because almost every localization specialist will use certain software to translate the bits and pieces as they are encountered. The best approach would be to work with the front-code and leave expandability options if any language is going to be added in the future.
  3. The Cultural Aspect. Another significant factor of localization is knowing the culture and the social factors that must be considered when dealing with the country’s specifics. Regardless if one is working with educational materials or video games, every piece of software will have to be customized to meet the local customs and peculiarities of the language. While it may sound minor, once such a mistake is spotted, it becomes major (think of Chinese manuals!).
  4. Knowing Your Audience. Of course, some changes will only take place during the translation process. Hence, you should always cooperate with your localization expert. Make sure to let your assistant understand how your software works and explain the target audience, so you can focus on those aspects that will help improve the software as it becomes translated. Take your time to analyze things and see the demand of your professional field. If you find it necessary, provide manuals and user guides to improve the experience.
  5. Professional Proofreading. Do not forget about editing and letting an expert check the logic and readability. It is best to let another person check things if you have an opportunity to have more than one opinion while things can still be edited. Remember that there are translation service reviews where you can find a specialist who can meet your deadlines and provide you with a technical translation (editor) expert. If you need to add some style or improve your welcome message, you can also talk to specialists in your relevant translation field and discuss what can be adjusted.
  6. Inclusion of Frequent Updates. Since you have to provide constant updates and improvements as you work with your software, it is good to keep your logs and fixes translated as well. While it is not really a part of localization since your updates might happen a long time after, you can turn to your past specialists for translation to let your foreign customers see the improvements. While these can be read in English, it is always much better to provide at least 2-3 additional languages to have a greater user base to see what has been changed.
  7. Promotion of Your Software Internationally. Another important part of localization is the inclusion of various SEO keywords and marketing text. While it will not always take place if it’s not mentioned, professional localization specialists will offer you a list of keywords that are typical for the foreign community. In most cases, these phrases will be included in an already translated text and the parts of your software. It will help to promote your software online as it is getting updated or if you are using cloud storage services or any built-in advertisements. The most important is to check every number and personal names included to keep things accurate. Remember to check your background and contact information twice!

The Copyright Matters

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With the software localization, it is necessary to keep the content unique, even if it is not a carbon copy of the original version. Depending on the software in question, it is necessary to provide specific references and keep the text bits and all graphics safe in terms of legal concerns. If our software localization relates to medical software where various healthcare matters are involved, one must address only certified translators with a relevant background. Moreover, every patent and idea that is not yours must be referenced in every language once your webpage, mobile app, or desktop version software reaches the global markets.