Software localization is a process which, among other things, enables your software products – be it cloud-based or desktop – to be tailored to the preferences of users from a particular locale. It makes sure the user experience is uninterrupted in any way: either linguistically, culturally, or technically.
If you were to sell your product only in your home country, you may not have needed software localization, but that’s hardly the case these days when companies tend to go global as they grow.
Software product experience should be related to operating by the end user. Also, we are missing the mention of UA (User assistance) content which is critical to all software localization projects. They can be help files, knowledge bases etc.
Software localization refers to a bouquet of services that ultimately end up in adapting your software-as-a-service (SaaS) product to the preferences of the customers in a particular market.
- Translation: This is often the most visible of software localization services. It’s critical in making your product or service accessible to roughly 75% of the world’s online population that does not speak English. With increasing internet connectivity, more and more people without English as their first language are coming online and beginning to spend online. You need to be ready for their business by speaking in their language. Text in a software product consists of user interface content, meta content, and user assistance (UA) content such as help files and knowledge bases, all of which needs to be translated accurately.
- Internationalization: It refers to the work that goes on behind the scenes to enable the localization of your software user interface (UI) for any market. For instance, some languages have a different orientation: Southeast Asian languages may have a vertical or horizontal orientation. Arabic, Persian, Urdu are examples of languages that are written from right to left and are called RTL languages. When you translate your code in these languages, you have to essentially mirror everything on your product interface. Forms, menus, navigation, call-to-action buttons all need to be placed intuitively, so that your international users don’t trip and experience inconveniences. Also, you need to make sure there is enough room for expansion for other scripts. English scripts usually expand by up to 40% when translated to German or Dutch.
- Testing: Here’s where you test if your localization efforts have actually served the needs of your users. It’s important as it eliminates bugs and enables correct functionality across all platforms for all users. You need to test for, among other things, if your application is displaying the fonts properly, whether it has the right currencies, date and address formats, and so on.
Companies that are aware of the importance of localization and the benefits it brings never go to market without a localized product. Here’s why you too should localize the software UI of your product before entering a market and not after:
- It’s often time-consuming and resource-intensive to localize software after it is released in a language. In fact, it’s almost impossible to do it without putting on hold a live product. This is because when a software solution is properly localized, the resource files which contain user interface elements like the menu and dialog boxes are not mixed up with other programming files. But in an un-localized product, it’s impossible to understand whether a particular word is part of the code or is a translatable. As a result, localization issues take a long time to fix.
- Simultaneous shipping of products and services to different locales is impossible without localization. Not localizing will inevitably lead to bugs and issues being reported in some markets, which means that you either risk losing customers to the competition or you must pause marketing and sales in those locales and fix the bugs first. Sometimes, it may affect releases in other markets, too.
You may have heard of the term “globalization” often used with localization. Though it’s a related concept, globalization actually refers to the larger process of enabling market entry. It can refer to tailoring your product to meet different expectations of international customers or comply with the laws in a particular country; it can be about building teams internally as well as using external resources such as software localization companies to localize and internationalize your product; and so on.
Localization services, in contrast, adapt your product to a particular locale, whether it be the language, the script, user interfaces, or using colors and images that will find acceptance with your users.