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An introduction to Software Localization

An introduction to Software Localization

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What is Software Localization?

Automatic translation tools have made huge steps in the last few years. Machine learning helps them to identify and translate with more accuracy. When we want to read a text in a foreign language, we can have it translated. It might not be perfect, but it conveys the meaning in most cases.

But what if we want to translate more than just text? When it comes to translating software, we need to include its code, user interface, and layouts and adapt it to the culture and language of our target audience. That is where professional software localization comes into play.

What Is Software Localization, and Do You Really Need It?

In short: it is the translation of software, so clients in other countries can use it. But that is an oversimplification of the scope of service software localization and its tools, like the locize localization software, offer. They manage and simplify the process of translating software and every relevant component.

Software localization allows us to modify the content of our software’s user interfaces, images, texts, and other multimedia elements according to the criteria of a specific language and its culture. This way we open our product up to new markets and users.

Difference Of Software Localization and Traditional Document Translation

A document translation is often performed after the fact. We have our software, and the translator translates the content.

Software localization has a much bigger scope. It works with translators, software engineers, testers, and many other fields to translate the code, design, and content of the software. For the best results, they work parallel to the development of the source software and allow for a simultaneous release of different language versions.

What Is the Standard Software Localization Process?

Software Localization isn’t just the translation of the on-page text. It adjusts:

  • code,
  • error strings and other messages,
  • end-user license agreements,
  • times, dates, and formatting,
  • currencies and payment methods,
  • legal requirements and much more.

Additionally, the localization ensures compatibility with the laws and safety procedures in different regions.

For the best efficiency, the base code and its translated version should always be written in a way that makes it easily translatable for both the code and the resulting software visuals.

The process of a software localization follows these steps:

  1. Identify which content needs to be translated.
  2. Find the respective resource files.
  3. Assess which cultural, technical, and linguistic changes need to be made.
  4. Translate the content & review for errors.
  5. Insert translated files into the appropriate code structure.
  6. Tweak user interface, design, layout, and dialog boxes according to text length & alphabets.
  7. Compile and build the translated software version & test it for the target market.

Why Software Localization Is Important for International Businesses

Software localization is a logical step in the globalization pipeline. The internet offers us direct contact to markets across the world. With translated software, we can increase our user base and income.

Reach New Markets Fast

In the spirit of agile software design, writing a code with its internationalization in mind allows us to quickly adapt it to new markets. A localization software makes it easy to translate and swap elements and then adjust the software layout to the target language’s alphabet, word, and text length, so the finished software version looks just as good as the original.

Expand Your Customer Base

Only 1.35 billion of the 7.8 billion people on this planet speak English. By targeting them, we reach the biggest group we can when only using a single language software. But there are multiple billion humans left, we have yet to reach. By making our product accessible to multiple communities, we increase the potential of reaching new customers without having to come up with a new product altogether.

Improve the User Experience

A software localization goes beyond the simple superficial translation of a program. They work with the target language’s culture in mind. Working with an interface that is built for left-to-right reading languages and filling it with the translation for an Asian language might leave the users frustrated when the buttons are not in the area they would expect them to be.

Thinking about these cultural norms can help us smooth out the user experience and gain better reviews and word-to-mouth.

Conclusion

Software localization works in tandem with the development of software to translate its components and the user interface into multiple languages. They translate text, code, and assess which cultural norms of the target audience need to be included. This way they allow the software to reach new markets quickly, be accessible to more users and improve their user experience according to their cultural expectations.

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