Software translation represents one of the soundest growth strategies for companies struggling to gain marketshare in the U.S. and increase revenue. In mature markets with established competitors, software companies often struggle to expand or even maintain their user base. Both enterprise and consumer grade software products are excellent candidates for software translation, especially in emerging markets where economies are exploding with opportunity.
If you haven’t experienced the process of a software translation project before, understanding what goes into a software translation project can help you and your teams prepare before engaging a translation services company. Behind the label “software translation” are several terms which describe distinct phases of a project, though they can often sound interchangeable to someone unfamiliar with software translation. Here we’ll define a few of those terms to help you prepare for your initial conversations with translation partners.
First, there is internationalization. Internationalization (abbreviated as i18n) is the process of designing a software application so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes. If you haven’t developed with internationalization in mind, it’s a good idea to go back and “clean” your code so it is prepared for the next step in the process, referred to as localization.
Localization (abbreviated in the industry as l10n) is the process of adapting internationalized software for a specific country, region, or language by adding locale-specific components and translating text. If you think of internationalization as priming a house to be painted, localization is the application of the specific color scheme you want to use to fit in with the neighborhood.
In a software translation, a large portion of the project is dedicated to localization. This will include everything from language to changes in interface. Forms, icons, button sizes, and potentially even interface gestures will need to be tailored to your new international buyers. You’ll also need to make a determination whether or not to spend the time translating various back-end components such as admin panels, business intelligence dashboards, and support documentation. Occasionally there will be features in your U.S. release which don’t make sense for your first international release, or may run afoul of local laws and cultural customs. Taking a hard look at your target market and your existing software offering before the software translation project begins is a good idea. It can keep costs down and ensure you ship on time.
The final phases of software translation involve QA (Quality Assurance) testing and in-country reviews. Though it may seem like an added expense, due dilligence to ensure your software translation functions exactly as you and your users expect it to is essential to your success. You won’t have another chance to make that first impression with users, so your brand reputation overseas can depend on a bug-free launch.
Though there are many moving parts to a software translation project, partnering with an experienced translation agency can make going global significantly less stressful. Remember, a good agency will have handled many software translation projects, so don’t hesitate to ask for case studies and referrals when you’re ready to make the leap.
Acclaro is a Translation Service Company that helps the world’s leading brands succeed across cultures. We specialize in expertly adapting brands, products and services to new languages markets. As one of the world’s leading, we equip clients for success in global markets through a variety of localization services.