What is Software Localization (l10n)

We live in a truly digital world, and technology has transformed the way almost every business and organization now operates. However, if you have ever tried to set up a new device or program that comes in another language or with a poor translation, you will know just how confusing this can be. That is why to maximize the overall experience of your users; it is essential that you undertake a thorough software-localization process.

While you might think that you can simply run your text through a translation tool to cover this off, this can result in major miscommunications and even more confusion. Every language and culture has an array of unique phrases, nuances, and legal requirements, and it's crucial in helping you to meet these demands.

For many developers, the software localization process is often only considered after the development has started. However, incorporating it in the very early stages will ensure that your business is able to expand into new markets and reach even more customers with relative ease.

What is software localization?

The software-localization-definition is the process of adjusting the software to ensure that it can meet the language, culture, and style of the end-user. This means that not only is the text being adapted into the relevant language, but the design and overall user experience are amended to ensure that it meets the needs of the target audience.

While internationalization (i18n) is about developing a product to meet the demands of a specific culture or audience, localization of software is a far more in-depth solution. The process usually requires the complete modification of text and multimedia for a software product. For example, trying to localize a piece of software that is in English into Chinese is not simply a case of translating the wording. The length of text and symbols are entirely different, meaning the whole visual layout will need to be amended to ensure the overall user experience remains the same.

Software localization goes much further than that, too. It also looks at the resources and links being used, the time- and date-format, the use of images or gestures to ensure they are culturally appropriate, and even the direction the text needs to be read in.

This makes the whole process an incredibly complex and time-consuming process, but it is a worthwhile investment for any developer.

Why is localization of software important?

Thanks to the advancement of technology, we now live in a highly connected world. We are now able to communicate with companies and organizations across the globe in a matter of seconds. However, while communication has never been more accessible, being able to understand the nuances and cultural differences of these communities is crucial.

Globalization gives software developers the chance to access hundreds of millions of potential new customers. In order to do this successfully, though, they need to ensure they are offering every client the very best user experience.

There are many benefits to focusing on the software-localization-process, including:

1) Maximizing your sales

Localization gives you the chance to enjoy success on an international scale. When you are able to provide the end user the very best experience, no matter where in the world they might be located, it will ensure you can quickly and easily enter new markets. Not only will this help to maximize your sales, but it can also help to strengthen your position in both the local and international market.

2) Improves user experience

High-quality localization is able to ensure everyone is able to enjoy the very best experience when using your products. Not only will they be able to clearly understand what you are saying, but they will be able to get the most out of your software too. This improves the overall user experience, giving them a greater impression of your brand.

3) Stay ahead of your competitors

In the fast-paced world that we live in, keeping your brand ahead of your competitors has never been more important. The software localization definition is about giving your customers the very best experience possible. That will allow you to stand out from the crowd, minimizing the risk of losing potential customers while also helping you to attract even more customers.

4) Greater feedback

Another significant benefit of the localization process, but one that is often overlooked, is that it can help you enjoy greater feedback. When you are able to have more users engaging with your software, it will help you to develop more in-depth feedback and generate more ideas for the future.

How do you implement the process effectively?

Localization of software can be an incredibly complex process and should be carried out by an experienced team. While there is no global standards on localization or a clear set of rules, there are certain best practices that can maximize the effectiveness of your software:

See it as an extension of your software development

To make sure the localization-process is as efficient and effective as possible, you should see it as an extension of your product development. That means rather than seeing it as a task to complete in the final stages, you should incorporate it in every step of your software development. By adopting this approach, you can ensure that you are maximizing the user experience, and it can also help to speed up the delivery time.

Keep it simple

Effective processes work best when you keep your language and copy simple. While utilizing complicated phrases and industry jargon can appeal to a small experienced audience, they do not translate as effectively. This means you could be reducing the overall experience for your end users.

It would help if you also considered implementing a style guide, covering things such as your branding, tone of voice, and formality. This will ensure a consistent and clear approach, no matter where in the world your users are accessing your software.

Use a localization platform

Effective software localization is a vast project, and utilizing a proven localization management platform can help to make the process easier. When choosing a platform, you should ensure that it has been developed specifically for localization. This will help to offer greater customization and allow you to integrate essential tools. For example react localization is made incredibly simple for developers when used in conjunction with the i18next framework.

You may use locize to make the process of the localization-projects of your company easier. Locize is the platform for effectively localizing your website, mobile app, video game or any other web product.

How is localization undertaken?

Software can be localised in two core areas, internationsalisation and then localization. The internationalization process covers the design and development, which means you should:

  • Review your application framework to ensure it can support your requirements
  • Thoroughly plan your content, including understanding how much space translated text will require. Your design should incorporate these needs, helping to make the localization smoother and more effective.
  • Code your strings to allow you to expand when required.
  • Externalize any strings that have been prepped for localization

Once you have successfully completed the internationalization phase, you should then begin to incorporate the localization phase. This is the process of translating your content utilizing a skilled translator, ensuring they are covering every part of your software.

The translation is one of the most important parts of your localization, so once complete, you must thoroughly review everything. This includes checking the accuracy of the content, the quality of the language, and the terminology being used.

Once completed, you will then need to copy the translations into your software and begin to testing it in every locality you are targeting. When you are certain that the software is working as designed and free from bugs, it can then be released to the public.

Do you need localization of software?

Now you know the answer to the question, “What is l10n?” the next decision is to decide whether it is right for you. If your software is being targeted for a specific community or a selected region, then localization might not be required.

However, if you are looking to expand into wider communities or give yourself the opportunity to do that at a later date, then it should be something you should consider. Even if you are not considering an international move just yet, you should prepare as much as you can during the development stage.

The industry you work in should also be a major consideration. Software localization should be a major consideration for those working in the e-commerce, legal, or governmental sectors. Of course, it is not just limited to these sectors, so make sure you consider both your current and future requirements when deciding if you need l10n.

In this technology-driven world, globalization is seeing an increasing number of organizations and companies working beyond their traditional localities. Software localization is crucial in helping you to successfully expand your business to other countries, allowing you to maximize your sales, boost your profits, and stand out from the crowd.

The next level localization of software

Connect your project directly to locize and get automatically new "non-translated" parts of your application sent to locize. You will be able to use locize CDN translations or translate within your web application directly. All newly generated keys in the reference language are automatically translated into the target languages using machine translation, such as Google Translate, when this option is selected.

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More information

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