When switching languages ​​for a global audience, it is common to understand localization and translation as two more similar concepts than complementary processes. Although there is some overlap between them, the software localization process is much more complicated. And Idichthuat Find out more in the article below!

What Is Software Localization?

Software localization is the process of adapting software to the linguistic, cultural and legal requirements of a particular language. This means not only translating text-based elements, but also fine-tuning graphics, layout, formatting, and more, not to mention meeting local legal requirements, being data-compliant. , device options and technology trends.

There are so many things to consider. As a result, it's easy for companies to overlook seemingly trivial elements that play an important role in providing a finished product to as many audiences as possible. So where should the software localization process begin? Here are 10 best practices and things to keep in mind when localizing software.

>>> Suggestions for reference: Localization Basics You Need to Know

The Best Ways to Localize Software

1. Take a localization approach as a strategy

Approach software localization as a strategy, not a process task.

  • Start planning and preparing.
  • Explore goals and requirements.
  • Content testing, analysis and delivery.
  • Offer.
  • Project launch.
  • Translation and localization.
  • Review and quality control.
  • File distribution, live streaming, and tracking.

To avoid failure in the localization process, extra care should be taken in the requirements analysis and design phases. Also ensure that all stakeholders agree on the target market, language, and issues specific to each. If you aim to be globally ready from the start, you'll never have to redesign to take advantage of a market opportunity.

Software localization
Software localization

2. Don't forget to design suitable for localization

A convenient design for localization that minimizes time and optimizes the best possible cost. It has source code and structure that prevents:

  • Replication of source errors in target files
  • Avoid translation errors
  • Common software localization errors, including function, display, abbreviation, over-localization, and sub-standard localization errors

Tip: Use templates to ensure brand consistency. Need to make sure your design is localization ready? Test, retest and test again and again. Fake localization (a form of QA testing) is a useful process that helps reduce risks such as user interface (UI) layout problems caused by special characters or string lengths. out.

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3. Build a library of internationalization objects

Remember: internationalization allows localization. Building a library of internationalized objects saves you from having to redo when localizing a software application into multiple languages. Include:

  • User interface design elements.
  • Sort and search function.
  • Multi-byte character support (for Asian languages).
  • Support in two directions or right to left (Arabic and Hebrew languages).
  • Address, number, date, and currency formats.

4. Don't make the source text too long

All languages ​​have different sentence structures, rules, and use of word count to express an idea. To minimize translation problems, the source content should be clear and concise:

  • Keep sentences short and concise.
  • Use standard English word order.
  • Break noun sequences (multiple consecutive nouns).
  • Avoid using synonyms, use a term to define a single concept.
  • Remove humor from content.
  • Clarify date, time and measurements.
  • Contains relative pronouns such as "that" and "which".
  • Stay active.
  • Replace phrasal verbs with one word.
  • Do not use acronyms.
  • Remove any idioms.

Tip: Don't use a word that has different meanings depending on the context. Many words in English can be nouns or verbs: for example, file, share and design. Decide on a use for the text and use it consistently.

5. Planning to expand the text

The English language is estimated at more than 1.000.000 words, while most other languages ​​have less than 500.000 words. So when translated into other languages, English content strings have the potential to expand or contract. For example, English “Have a nice day!” translated into German as “Ich wunsche Ihnen einen schonen Tag!”: 125% increase in length. Translating English into Asian languages ​​has the opposite effect.

At the very least, plan for 30-35% expansion of the content and consider the use of space. Again, focus on keeping the source text short and using software localization best practices regarding formatting and word choice.

6. Don't misuse the icons

Software localization involves not only written but also visual communication. They have different meanings for different cultures. Non-text symbols are beneficial because they require less translation and can reduce costs. But keep in mind that not all icons are universal.

For example, the US mailbox style is not translated to many other cultures. Do your research and avoid images of hands or feet, animals, and other symbols as they may have unexpected or unwelcome meanings.

>>> Recommended viewing: Everything You Need to Know About Product Localization

7. Use UTF-8 encoding

Most modern technologies default to UTF-8, the most common format for Unicode. UTF-8 is described by Dr. Ken Lunde, a renowned information processing expert, as "the world's first intelligent character encoder."

Unicode is supported by all major software and hardware application companies and is required by standards such as XML, Java, and Javascript. Using UTF-8 ensures easy and accurate translation into all languages, especially Asian languages ​​(Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese).

UTF-8 encoding table
UTF-8 encoding table

8. Do not hard-code text or punctuation

Hard-coded text or text embedded in the source code must be extracted for translation when you're ready to localize. Your language service provider may run a parser to determine translatable text. However, you're better off minimizing it at the design level by using separate document files.

Tip: You may want to concatenate separate strings using placeholders with hard-coded word or phrase order, to reduce the size of a string. However, this often leads to mistranslations and incorrectly localized strings because word order and grammar rules vary between languages. To solve this problem, it should be avoided at all costs.

9. Consult a localization service specialist

Before you begin your project, provide your software localization service partner with as much information as possible to ensure a successful partnership.

  • Do you have an international development plan in the near future?
  • Who are your big customers?
  • How many languages ​​are needed for your project?
  • Do you have an internal localization team? How will they communicate with this project?
  • What are you looking for in a translation provider?
  • Speed, quality, cost, accessibility of professionals?

In addition to the localization lists provided for Android, iOS, and Windows, your language service provider can provide you with insights and optimized processes that will save you time. time, money.

Tip: Be sure to provide your language service provider with a list of untranslated texts (DNT) to prevent over-localization. Both can affect the encoding function if an incorrectly translated string has important function in the program.

10. Don't just meet expectations, exceed them.d

From the simplest mobile apps to complex multi-user systems, localization is key to driving sales and adoption of multilingual software. Therefore, it is necessary to pay careful attention to the smallest details.

Use the 80-20 rule to appeal to local and global customer behaviors. By truly understanding the local market and incorporating cultural sensibilities into your design and development, you will not only meet your users' expectations, but have the ability to transform their experience. With global software development by design, there's no reason not to start unlocking global market opportunities.

To learn more about software localization service, please contact the translation company Idichthuat today.

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