Guest Post: How to level up your global business with software localization

Do you have your strings ready and want to move into the localization (l10n) process, but you are not sure where and how to start? This is a short introduction to best practices that will ensure the flawless integration of your software localization process with your design, programming and iteration environment. No matter if you have different types of content or technical requirements, at the end of your localization process, it should be content that is ready for market release in your chosen locale. Learn more about the possibilities and tools you should rely on in the following sections.

How to prepare for software localization

As a first step, before you can even think about starting the software localization, you need to ensure that your content is ready for internationalization (i18n). This means your design should take into account different length of strings, the readiness for left-to-right and right-to-left reading, the use of UTF and other various factors. Furthermore, you need to ensure that you opt for a full locale and not just a language to adjust date formats, spelling and word choices respectively.

The process of internationalization describes the generalization of your design so as to be ready for the different locales. This is one of the most important steps to get ready for your software localization process and cannot be skipped if you wish to avoid neverending bug fixes further down the line. If this is your first localization effort, it makes sense to get a localization or globalization expert on board who can help you with the details.

Once your internationalization process has been finished, you can proceed to the extraction of the strings that need to be localized. This extraction can happen, for instance, through SaaS as an automated procedure, which saves developers a lot of time and headache previously encountered when preparing sheets and files. The automated extraction also allows for fewer errors and ensures that no extras are introduced by the translators during the localization process – a painful reality that used to cause many glitches and bugs in need of fixing in the final revision.

How to decide on how to localize your software

Now that your content is ready, you can start localizing your software. In order to do that, you need to decide whether to keep the localization in your hands and work with a team of translators using a software localization tool, or whether to hand the process over to a Language Service Provider (LSP) specialized on software localization. In any of those two cases, you need to ensure that only the best localization management and quality assessment practices are in place.

Currently, there is an increased opportunity to capitalize on new tools which focus on the localization of content. They are built to streamline your workflow, can be easily implemented and also facilitate the simultaneous workflow of everyone involved in your localization process. This includes the localization manager, the translators, the developers as well as the revision and quality assessment team. Even in the case of deciding to outsource the localization management to an LSP, you are right to demand that the localization is handled through a platform that allows for the interaction and connection of all involved parties.

Once you have decided which way to go, you should ensure that your source format is handled well by whichever application is used. In addition, you would like to check that whoever will handle the translation is quickly provided contextual comments on strings in order to facilitate the translation, as well as to cut time and cost for frequent inquiries regarding the context of your content. As the last step before handing over the content and having professionals begin translating, you should ensure the expertise of the translators and test for their skills for your specific content. This is especially important if you have not previously used glossaries or term bases that can be used for localization, as those will have to be created ideally only by experts in the field.

Submitting your content for localization

You can extract your strings yourself, have it handled by a software solution or opt for automatic extraction of strings in the platform solution you chose for your software localization. However, the strings are not and should not be the only content you submit to your translators or LSP. You should include comments that help to contextualize the strings, for example, the sending along of glossaries and term bases if those exist from previous localizations. You should also provide a so-called “do-not-translate” list. If you do not have glossaries or term bases, you should decide for a term revision before you head full on into the translation. This is a quality assurance step that will save a lot of time in the long run and guarantees that terminology is used consistently throughout any and all current and future localizations.

All of the chosen translators and the localization specialists and managers should have access to all of those documents to facilitate the following workflows. In modern tools and SaaS platforms, you can assign roles accordingly and ensure that everyone participating has access to what they will need for the completion of the assigned task. This gives you more control over your content and documents, but also the overall process. Embracing the technological possibilities for your localization can only facilitate and shorten your overall time spent. Now that you have provided everything for the translators and localization managers, you can focus on other tasks while they work their magic.

Revision and iterations of your localized content

Once your content has been localized according to your instructions and terminology, it is critical to ensure the quality of the produced content in its localized version. Put another way, there needs to be serious proofreading and revision. No typos or grammatical errors should be tolerated in the final product. It should also be void of any mistranslations and misuse of terminology.

In an ideal scenario, this quality control should be done by professionals familiar with your industry. You can rely on in-house support if you have the necessary resources. Otherwise, you may want to opt for an expert who is familiar with localizations for the specific market. All comments and requests for alterations will then have to be taken into account by the translators when preparing the very last version of your localized content. This step will help you guarantee the best possible outcome and facilitate any following iterations from your side. Localization today often happens simultaneously with iterations and updates. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have an elaborate workflow in place and rely on a strong software localization tool. If you are still looking for one, give Phrase a try.

About the author

Christin Richter is a Localization Expert, writer, and part of the Phrase Content Team. She considers innovation a mandatory process, that is enhanced by disruptive technologies and organizations.