Avoid These 10 Common Mistakes to Ensure Successful Software Localization

Consider this scenario: Your new software is doing so well that your company decides to localize it for a different region. However, when your team begins to prepare for localization, you realize that the process will take much longer than anticipated, since the necessary steps were not put in place from the beginning.

With localization listed as the fourth fastest growing industry in the United States, it is never too early to start anticipating what will be required for localizing software for specific regions. To help you achieve a successful software localization launch, here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:

 1) Not Planning Ahead

Not planning for localization when developing software could cause a business to miss out on a huge opportunity, especially considering that the global enterprise software industry is expected to surpass $500 billion by 2021. For starters, make sure your company is clear about which target languages it is trying to reach, as well as the challenges that are unique to each one. In addition, think about your timeframe and deadline, then build a project plan that includes how to address industry standards, cultural and language nuances, localized testing, and a marketing strategy for the target region. Furthermore, work with your language service provider to determine the most cost effective way to achieve localization by your launch date.

2) Not Having Enough Context around Content

Since several people will likely be involved with the localization process, not putting context around content before files are handed over to the software translator can cause quite a bit of confusion. Considering that languages are often ambiguous, with the same words having different meanings, context is a critical part of ensuring that the original meaning is intact. Avoid vague wording, and put context information directly into the source files. In addition, you can provide your language service provider with style guides, glossaries, and alternative phrasing options. To ensure accurate translations, make sure you give context to every string of text.

3) Thinking Only About the Language

One of the most common mistakes you can make is focusing only on a target language, instead of a region. Since languages vary depending on the region in which they are spoken, it is necessary to provide a complete locale property for the localization. By being precise with this information, you can avoid mistakes that happen as a result of different spellings, alternate date formats, and other unique issues between two areas that have the same language.

4) Inserting Text into the Code

One sure way to delay the localization is to embed text into the code. Instead, insert all text that will be visible to users, including error messages and titles, into external resource files. By giving each text string a unique translation value and name, you will have translated files for every target region your company is trying to reach. After all of the strings are placed into the external files, you can give them to your language service provider for translation.

5) Assuming That You Have Enough Space for Text

English text strings that are translated into other languages will most likely contract or expand. This is because several languages require at least 30 percent more space than English, such as the 60 percent additional space could be needed for Finnish, while other languages need less space. Therefore, it is important to allow for text expansion and contraction when designing the software.

6)  Not Considering Language Formats

In addition to translated text expanding or contracting, some languages require different formats. For example, Hebrew and Arabic read from right to left, while others, such as Chinese, call for vertical space. With this in mind, prepare to address unique and specialized text formats.

7)  Placing Text with Images

Images and graphics can reduce the word count needed for translation, as well as make a message easier for users to understand. However, be aware of including images that contain text, since they can hamper the translation process. The best way to address this is not to include text as part of an image. If text has to be integrated with a graphic, consider making the text a separate component, which will result in a more efficient translation.

8)  Using Coding that is Not UTF-8

The most popular Unicode format is UTF-8, making it almost always the best option for software localization. By using Unicode, you can create code that manages the standards of all your target regions. Because it contains only one definition for every character, corrupted characters are unlikely to occur. The bottom line is that Unicode can support global language scripts, making it a necessity for software localization.

9)  Not Developing an Information Library for Each Region

Since languages and regions use different formats for times, dates, currencies and numbers, hard coding these elements will cause problems during localization. To resolve this issue, develop a library for these elements for every region. Storing them in an ISO format will ensure that translators can determine which format is necessary for a specific language.

10)  Limiting Testing Time

Quality assurance is critical for a successful software localization launch, meaning that sufficient testing time is absolutely necessary. During testing, check for mistakes in functionality and coding, as well as grammatical errors and inconsistencies. A vital part of this process is to have the software tested by a native speaker of the target language.

Localization is and will continue to be a rapidly growing industry, with $25 gained for every dollar spent by customers. Software localization is no exception. By avoiding these ten common mistakes, you can ensure your own business successfully launches software localized for world regions, boosting your global customer count and revenue.

1 Comment

  1. Winsome

    Great tips shared dear, will remind these all for a successful software localization.

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