Consumers expect an immersive user experience and polished local-language versions of software and applications globally. Software localization is the process of adapting a software application’s language and other local-specific aspects for use in foreign-language markets. Effective software localization involves more than translating text but also the graphical user interface.
Here is an overview of the ten steps required for localizing software to adjust and adapt your application to meet your consumers’ functionality requirements and cultural expectations.
I. Plan Your Launch Strategy
Many preparatory tasks begin before your actual translation. First, you must define which markets you plan to enter. Now is the time to ask yourself and internal stakeholders how you plan to onboard users and evaluate which countries or languages are critical to your success.
Next, you need to decide on the timeline for localization. While planning your strategy, you will need to grasp the impact of localization on your development timeline to ensure that adequate time is allotted.
Once you have chosen your locales, languages and have a strategy for localization timeline, you are ready to prepare your software product.
II. Prepare Your Software Product
Before you can localize any software product, you must prepare it for translation. Preparing your software product will help you avoid design complications and inappropriate language in future translations.
There are two ways to prepare for translations; Internationalization is the process of generalizing a product during design or development to adapt more accessible to various languages and locales without engineering changes or redesign. And Pseudo Translation comprises a series of tests that emulate translation into the target languages using the same characters as actual translations and a logical text-expansion algorithm based on language expansion rules.
It would benefit you to review software components to identify and address potential issues with both content and content format during this time. You should also consider potential problems with design and text that has not been appropriately externalized and graphics containing text that may leave insufficient to no room for text expansion. Also, consider formatting and content issues.
III. Schedule Your Resources
Developing a software product requires careful use of resources and scheduling. Prior planning for localization gives both your language solutions provider (LSP) and your internal localization project manager enough time to allocate resources, especially in-country reviewers. In-country reviewers (ICRs) are invaluable for final reviews and approvals at various stages of a localization project. Assigning and involving an ICR may require a longer lead time for many companies. Ideally, you should designate one primary contact to act as an ICR for each target language.
Once your resources have all been identified and informed, you can begin training key team members.
IV. Train Key Team Members
Ensure that your localization team members are trained on the product’s use and purpose. This training will enable internal team members and your LSP to understand better what your product does, how and why consumers will use it, and the software’s environment.
Training can take many forms; you should consult with your LSP to determine the best training approach and appropriate materials. Style guides for translation should include all source styles.
V. Create a Style Guide
Each language will need its style guide. Style guides for translation should include all the source content plus language and locale-specific information for that language. The translators, reviewers, testers, and ICRs will use these style guides.
If your company doesn’t have a style guide, your LSP can help you create one based on your requirements, corporate goals and style. This style guide will heavily impact the development of your glossary and termbase.
VI. Develop a Glossary and Termbase
A glossary and termbase are critical to project success. A central approved reference of exact keywords and phrases in each target language is vital to establishing a proper localization infrastructure. Glossary creation and translation into the termbase are typically handled by your LSP, with client approval of the termbase is mandatory.
The glossary and termbase feed into the Translation Memory (TM); any new translation project builds a TM.
VII. Build a Translation Memory
A TM is a repository of the original content and the translated versions of that content. As you translate more content, the TM grows. Translators can then reuse the previously translated content during a new project to ensure consistency, decrease time to market, and reduce translation costs.
Existing translations of your software can be imported into a TM, saving your project time and cost.
VIII. Plan to Manage Change
Minimize the need for changes during localization by having a clear plan for handling the design and content-related complications that inevitably arise. The plan should include a clear assignment of responsibility for who performs the changes, you or your LSP, and indicates how issues will be handled, such as enlarging menus, using smaller fonts, etc.
Testing is the final phase in the localization workflow; just as it is vital to have a plan for managing change, it is also essential to have a comprehensive test plan created before testing begins.
IX. Develop or Update Test Plans & Test Cases
Make your goals clear and describe the test cases that address the typical product use and known localization complications. Develop this comprehensive test plan early to allow test cases to be created and modified as needed before the scheduled testing begins.
Ensure your test plan covers all three areas – linguistic, cosmetic and functional, including all components such as functions and use scenarios of the application and everywhere text appears, text input, error messages, etc.
X. Translation and Testing
Once all pre-translation steps are complete, the actual translation can begin. Your LSP will handle the translation and testing; it’s essential to point out a direct correlation between translator qualifications and translation quality. The most efficient, cost-effective and high-quality translation results are achieved when translators are native speakers of the target language and have subject matter expertise in your industry.
There are many benefits to working with a localization partner as the required steps for localizing software are extensive and time-consuming. Morningside is uniquely qualified to provide localization services. Our services include but are not limited to helping you plan and schedule your localization project, deadlines and deployment, and coordinate translations using sophisticated localization tools and platforms that connect to a network of professional, in-country translators and other localization professionals.