Are you ready to launch your software in a new language? Then you’ll need to be prepared to manage all of the details associated with localizing and translating your code for your international customers. While there are many aspects to consider along the way, we’ve put together 6 tips to enhance your software translation process.
1. Choose one or two “demo languages” before a large-scale, multilingual launch. You’re going to learn a lot from your first software translation project, so why replicate your mistakes across six languages simultaneously? Select a language from your target country and work out the bugs on a smaller scale. Once you have several languages live, you’ll want to maintain each one like it’s an individual release.
2. Pseudolocalize your code to see if it’s capable of dealing with double-byte and accented characters. Your systems need to be flexible enough to handle these characters. This simple stress test will enhance the software translation process before you go full throttle.
3. Focus on translating what’s essential. This might mean only translating for your end-users. Much of your admin functions can probably remain in English, as it will be your English-language team working on back-end problems. Also: Limit the quantity of support documentation you translate to what’s essential. Take the time to make the crucial documentation high-quality, rather than doing a fair-to-poor job translating a large volume of documents.
4. Pay special attention to inputs and form fields. An overlooked form field can turn an otherwise well-translated piece of software into a completely unusable version. Will your forms accept special character inputs specific to your target language? Typical problem areas include differing date, time, and number formats. Do you need to shift the order of certain form fields around to comply with local culture name order conventions? To enhance the software translation process, have your partner look at your forms prior to engaging your code to advise you on how best to proceed.
5. Give user interface elements ample attention. Language has a direct impact on design elements in your software. Think that button’s big enough? Think again. Romance languages can expand your average English interface command by up to 140%. If you have a row of buttons, project what will happen when that row expands similarly. In addition to the impact characters have on interface, you’ll need to look at your icons to make sure they’re localized for your target culture. Often icons that are common in the U.S. don’t translate visually to your target culture.
6. Build in time to test. Every software translation process can be enhanced by taking time to thoroughly test your software in translation. If possible, make sure the QA process includes in-country testing with real users.