5 Basics of Quality Software Localization

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 Updated: 
August 17, 2020
 / 4 minutes

Every developer wants to spread its software worldwide. Still, without proper localization, it is impossible. Although English is a universal language, only 20% of the Earth’s population speaks it. People always prefer software in their native language, so localization is a must. How to do it correctly without extra efforts and expenses? The experts already have answers. If you follow the 5 advice below, you have all the chances for success. Read this article and find out about the most recent recommendations from localization specialists.

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1.   Think Everything Ahead

The first thing you need is a clear localization strategy that you will define from the very beginning. Your stakeholders should agree on the target markets and approaches, explore any possible problems, and build up an action plan. Make the interface localization-friendly from the very beginning, because you will have to change a lot of elements before your product is finished. Software translation is very close to video game localization because they both need great flexibility of user interface. Languages tend to have different ways of reading, number of symbols, and general layout. Therefore, every element should be changeable to look good.

2.   Minimize Hardcoded Text

Just before localization, you will need to extract your source code for translation. When there’s less hardcoded text, the translation will take significantly less effort. You can identify translatable text through a parser, but you can still miss some important details. Also, prepare to have separate resource files for error messages, product names, titles, and similar elements. You can also build a library of objects that you plan to internationalize to make the whole process more convenient.

3.   Have Clear, Simple Content

If you plan to localize by yourself, create easy, clear content. This will help you to avoid many translation challenges such as different grammar rules, ambiguous terms, and difficult sentence structures. Avoid synonyms, humor, or slang, and write in the active voice to sound simpler. Also, do not use idioms, acronyms, or lengthy sentences. Even if you want to delegate your software to a localization agency online, be sure to have a clear language. Lengthy, difficult texts are usually more expensive to translate as they take much effort. Remember that the users also value when everything is clear and convenient.

4.   Use UTF-8

Nowadays, UTF-8 is a default Unicode format which works on most modern technology. All major software and hardware support it, so using UTF-8 is a win-win. Also, it is required by such standards as Java, XML, Javascript, and others. This system ensures that all languages are translated correctly and look decipherable, which is especially important for Asian languages. Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean will be safe with this system. Some other languages that are based on the Cyrillic alphabet will also benefit from UTF-8, as well as special Latin symbols that are common to French, German, Spanish, and many other European languages.

5.   Don’t Forget About Testing

When you localize software, you will need at least two different kinds of testing. The first one will test the translation quality and include proofreading and editing. The second one will encompass the look and feel of the application, as well as its functionality. A native QA will perfectly do the job, as they can pick any inconsistencies or awkwardly sounding phrases. If you are in search of such specialists, use translation forums or read about top translation companies to find your perfect native speaker. Remember that testing is an important part of your localization because it ensures that the software looks and reads well.

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Surely, localization is a crucial process for any software that is preparing to go worldwide. Use these 5 essential tips to localize properly and have the best outcomes. Have a clear plan for your localization process and strictly follow it. Remember to build up easy code and clear, concise text to minimize localization efforts. Also, don’t forget to have a flexible UI to fit any languages, and always use UTF-8 encoding to support all possible symbols. Finally, test your software with the help of a native QA specialist to get a perfectly localized product.

BIO

Henry Mcdowell is a linguist with a passion for technology. He describes himself as a person with an active lifestyle and many interests. Some of his favorite time spendings are traveling, hiking, and playing sports.

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