10 Insider Tips (the Do’s and the Don’ts) for Effective Software Localization

For businesses and developers, software localization services are the need of the hour. A localized software facilitates better user understanding, increased engagement, and higher satisfaction, and leads to a more successful and globally accessible software product.

Have you ever tried setting up software or an electronic device that’s not in your native language? If yes, then you know the drill. Understanding instructions in a non-native language is not only confusing but equally frustrating. Those ample language translation tools don’t solve the problem either – they fail to capture the cultural nuances and make the entire process even more cumbersome.

That’s where software localization services come into play. By localizing the content, documents, design, and even the user interface in the desired language, localization services make way for a seamless, borderless user experience.

Localizing a software is a lot more than mere text translation. While the process starts with translating a software’s user interface, documentation, and other content into the desired language, it goes way beyond changing the design and UX of the software so that it looks and feels natural to the end user.

But the road to software localization is extremely tricky. It demands unfazed attention and complete due diligence. In this two-blog series, we’ll share some software localization best practices and the pitfalls that you must avoid. So, read along and make way for successful product localization.

The Do’s of Software Localization – 5 Essential Tips to Follow

1. Evaluate the Need

Every product, service, or software must revolve around the needs of the customer. While this is true

  • you must also remember that customers’ needs and preferences may vary from one region to another. So, a product that is relevant in one country might not be equally relevant in another. Therefore, before you choose to adapt your software to another locale, carefully determine the goals and objectives of your software localization efforts.
  • Are you localizing your software solely to expand your reach or presence in new markets, or are you aiming to address the needs of your potential customers?
  • Does your software have all the features and functionalities to meet the demands of your varied audience, or do you need to make adjustments to better cater to their preferences?

Understanding the need behind your localization initiative will help you formulate a clear strategy for global success.

2. Create a Fool-Proof Software Localization Strategy

Now that you have evaluated your need, it’s time to create a powerful software localization strategy. But before you move ahead, make sure to approach software localization as your go-to strategy and not a one-time plan. Now, with the help of an experienced software translation and localization agency, create an extensive plan.

Your software localization strategy should include:

  • Developing a style guide as per the linguistic needs and preferences of your target audience
  • Building a library of global-ready objects. This includes standardizing date and number formats, addresses, and currency formats to accommodate various regions.
  • Providing multi-byte character support, especially for Asian languages, and ensure right-to-left alignment for languages like Arabic and Hebrew.
  • Considering the search experience, user interface design, and differences between RTL (right-to-left) and LTR (left-to-right) languages.
  • Providing enough space for text expansion to ensure that translated content fits within the designated UI elements without any overlapping. After all, languages vary in length and structure, so leaving ample space for text expansion is important.
  • Using Unicode UTF-8 encoding to support special characters and language scripts.
  • Translating and localizing software content, including menus, buttons, tooltips, and error messages, into the target languages while maintaining consistency in tone, style, and terminology.
  • Revising and testing the localized software to identify and address any translation or design issues, if any. This phase ensures that the localized software functions correctly and provides a positive user experience across all supported languages.
  • Releasing the localized software product and ensuring continuous improvement throughout the lifecycle of the product.

3. Creating Translation-friendly Content

When you talk about content translation, writing jargon-free content is the No. 1 tip that everyone would give you. But software are inherently technical and are full of jargon and technical language. That’s where calque (loan translation) comes into play. During this process, specific terms are borrowed from English to minimize localization and translation problems.

Source: Promova.com

  • Consider loan translations while localizing your software-related content
  • Keep your text crisp and concise.
  • Avoid humor, colloquialism, and excessive use of synonyms.
  • Always prefer writing content in an active voice.
  • Clearly mention the date, time, and unit of measurement.
  • Always use one-word substitutes for phrases to promote simplicity and ease of translation.

4. Plan for Text Expansion

Not all languages have the same word lengths, which means that translated text may end up taking more space than the original. That’s why, it’s important to plan for software localization right from the start. Be generous when allocating copy space as strings may expand or contract when the content is translated to other languages from English. Remember, nothing makes a UI less attractive than misaligned content running over the graphics or outside the box.

5. Use Unicode

Unicode is an international ‘character encoding standard’ that’s the bedrock upon which all your localization efforts stand. It’s the process of assigning numerical values to characters to help computers accurately display textual information, irrespective of the language or script. Today, most tech software come with UTF-8 Unicode as it facilitates smooth and accurate translation into multiple languages. By adopting Unicode standards, you can ensure that your software can accurately display text in various languages, thereby enhancing user experience and accessibility for a global audience.

So, there you are! Follow these 5 software localization best practices and come up with a global-ready software design that not just meets but exceeds user expectations. Partner with the best software localization company and add speed, agility, and proficiency to your software localization efforts.

Next week, we’ll be exploring 5 common pitfalls to avoid during the software localization process. Stay tuned for valuable insights and practical tips to ensure a smooth and successful localization journey.

Whether you’re new to localization or a seasoned pro, our Knowledge Base is your go-to resource for essential tips, tricks, and how-to’s that can help you navigate the complexities of global software deployment. Keep reading and keep empowering your software; let’s chart new horizons together!

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Rishi Anand

Rishi is a Language enthusiast and Founder and CEO of Linguidoor Translation and Localization Services based in Berlin, Germany. He is passionate about the Localization Industry, and he has a keen interest in sharing Insights, News, and development to create awareness, educate, and inspire.


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