Eilon is a Customer Success Manager at BLEND. He helps global brands find the best localization and translation solutions for their business.
With the internet and mobile apps now a key part of many people’s everyday lives, localization in the IT and software industry, as well as software localization services have become more important than ever. However, software localization needs to be done right to ensure it delivers the best possible user experience across as many territories as possible.
The software localization process is a complex one that requires the right insights from the planning stage, right through until implementation. As such, picking the right professional software localization provider is critical. Below, we’ll delve into the software localization process in a little more detail and explore some of the best service providers currently available.
Software localization involves adapting software to the specific needs and cultural requirements of the end user. It’s not just everyday words that need to be localized. Basic elements like units of measurement also need to be adapted for the global market. Meanwhile, you’ll also need to think about graphic localization.
Some people assume that software localization is fairly straightforward. However, retooling key sections doesn’t go far enough. Instead, you’ll need to consider all design elements, including things like the placement of buttons and input fields. Sometimes, code itself may need to be localized, allowing non-native speakers to work on the backend when updating and making changes to the software.
If you’re localizing software from English into one with a complex writing system, a standard language translation isn’t sufficient. Translation is a part of software localization, but localization is more than translation. While the text itself can be translated, you’ll ultimately encounter usability issues. Special character encoding may not be supported or translated text may be too small. Sometimes, the translated text will be visually truncated, leaving software sections looking sparse.
All of this is before you even consider the specific cultural requirements of global users. They may be more used to a different layout than the one you’ve used for English users. Additionally, more in-depth instruction and information may be the standard they’re used to. Bearing all this in mind, it’s easy to see why localizing software is a broad and complex process.
If you’re thinking seriously about international expansion, software localization is a must. Utilizing technology and software allows you to extend your reach into new markets, achieving sustainable growth.
You’ll also want to localize software if you want to establish a large and loyal client base. By catering to customers in their native language, you built cultural affinity. Investing in localization not only engages new customers but also keeps them loyal and allows you to forge valuable long-term relationships.
English is the leading online language, with many non-native speakers having a good degree of fluency. However, you can’t always depend on an English-only approach to software. By investing in software translation and localization, you can penetrate untapped markets more easily and acquire customers more quickly.
While software and technology have a broad reach, you need to be particular when it comes to localization projects. As products become more successful in a specific market, the more likely it is they’ll become specialized for that market. This can inform future development, but these innovations won’t always appeal to users with different preferences.
If you want your product to make a real impact, you can’t depend on the same principles that cater to native users. However, it’s important not to rush into localization. A poor attempt can damage your business, diminishing brand loyalty and denting sales.
To succeed globally, you’ll need to localize every aspect of your software. As well as high-quality translations of text, things like units of measurement and local currencies need to be considered. Some markets are easier to localize for than others, but every project needs to be planned out in advance. Below are some of the core elements you should be focusing on:
Translating language is at the heart of every localization effort. However, you’ll need to go beyond word-for-word translations and replace existing characters with new ones. Some languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, read right-to-left. Adapting text from English to such a writing system can be problematic. Text fields aren’t your only concern. You’ll also need to localize a multitude of other resource files, such as dialogue boxes, menus, and more.
If you’re localizing into a language with a different alignment, it’s important to see how these changes will affect software functionally and essentials like the user interface. What’s more, you’ll need to understand how native speakers actually interact with written content so it can be properly optimized for the end user.
How content is organized is just as important as the content itself. Different countries have different expectations here. While stripped-back design might be popular in the US, users elsewhere in the world tend to prefer to have information more readily available. In many Asian countries, users are more likely to appreciate pages that are rich in sidebars and hyperlinks.
Carrying out user research is crucial. Conduct interviews with people who speak the target language you’re looking to localize for. Furthermore, competitor analysis will give you a clear idea of software standards, making it easier to develop a best-in-class product. Focus on the placement of elements and how much information is being conveyed.
Linguistic elements are important, but they’re not the only thing to consider when approaching software localization. Pictures and symbols also need to be repurposed for new markets. Many visual elements convey similar meanings across the globe, while others have massively different connotations.
The emoji is often considered a universal form of communication. However, the meaning attached to them depends very much on cultural norms. In Western countries, the applause emoji is commonly used to offer congratulations or praise. In China, it has sexual connotations.
Even seemingly obvious graphics like crossing sign symbols should be avoided. Most countries have their own distinct rules and imagery here, so using something specific that will resonate with individual markets is essential.
Looking for professional translation and software localization services? At BLEND, we’ll take all the hard work out of adapting your software products for new markets. Our extensive network of professional, certified translators can provide translations in over 120 languages, making it easy to attract new customers and secure high retention rates in global markets.
At BLEND, we can help you with every aspect of software localization. Need to build your online presence? Our localization tools integrate seamlessly with Drupal’s TMGMT, WordPress’s WPML, and more. Our expert linguists also have a keen understanding of UX design, meaning your software will score top marks for user-friendliness in every language. Combining the skills of human translators with AI-driven solutions, we make it easy for brands to become truly global.
Established in 1996, Lionbridge is one of the most experienced localization providers around. This company specializes in marketing, localization testing, and globalization services. Most of its client base is small to medium-sized businesses, with its user-friendly platform making it easy to connect with an extensive network of linguists. Currently, Lionbridge works with thousands of professional translators, working with more than 400 languages.
Founded in 2004, Alconost is a tried and tested localization provider. As an ISO-certified translation partner, they’re a go-to for the localization of marketing materials, eLearning, and website content. These localization experts also offer solutions for video games and computer software.
Andovar has been going strong for more than a decade. Despite starting small, this localization provider now works with global brands and specializes in delivering multilingual content. Website translation, website localization, and software translation services are all on offer here. Alongside human translation, this company uses AI-assisted technology. There’s a focus on localization for energy marketing, including mobile apps, gaming, and cloud software.
Moravia offers translation solutions geared toward enterprise-level clients. They provide multimedia and software localization services, alongside things like multilingual desktop publishing and website globalization services. Moraniva is pricier than other language services, but you can count on robust translation management and quality assurance as standard.
Looking to learn more about BLEND’s localization services? Let’s take a look at one of our success stories. Simply, a music learning app enjoyed by millions in more than 180 countries, came to us with their localization needs. When Simply approached BLEND, they were already working with a localization service but knew that they needed to be doing more than what their current translation services provider could deliver.
Simply needed support for in-app communications and promotions, profile customization, multimedia localization, and more. BLEND stepped in to help, assembling teams to deliver localization in German, French, and Brazilian Portuguese.
We used our hybrid approach of human translators working alongside the best AI tools to overhaul Simply’s content for new markets. Localized voice-over and subtitles were added to some of Simply’s most popular video courses. Conversion rates for these three languages enjoyed an uplift of 7-10%. Simply now plans to localize other course subsets, including the Simply Sing app.
Even if you laid the framework for localization during software development, you’ll probably need some help fine-tuning your software products for new markets. To deliver the best possible experience for your users, you’ll need professional linguists with industry-specific expertise. At BLEND, we work with thousands of linguists, producing content in more than 120 world languages. What’s more, our tools can be seamlessly integrated into your workflows, allowing for continuous localization.
Looking for software localization insights? Need help fine-tuning the translation process? Get in touch with BLEND today to speak to one of our representatives and receive a free quote.