The continuing trend of transferring production to countries with low-cost labor and the ever-increasing globalization of markets are leading companies around the world to increase their presence in foreign markets. As any forward-thinking executive knows, localizing products and related documentation is the key to international success. In this article, we'll look at some of the many obvious and less obvious benefits of localization and translation.
What is localization?
Localization is the quintessence of user-friendliness: Across the globe, people feel more comfortable and confident when using products in their native language. Yet, many organizations – particularly those based in the U.S. – assume English to be the universal lingua franca.
Localization shouldn't be an afterthought – it should be an integral part of the development process. Therefore, embedding your localization strategy in development planning and development cycles is critical. Companies that do not plan for localization often make mistakes that could have been avoided. Problems can arise from poor communication between developers, localization managers, and translators. Texts submitted for translation (usually the user interface) and localized versions are not updated synchronously. As an example, some languages need more space than others. If this isn’t taken into consideration from the get-go, certain text areas might need to be adjusted and corrected manually. It is more than just a nuisance: In some cases, the launch in a new geographic region will have to be postponed. Often, managers are late to learn that not everything has been translated or that the developed product has not been fully adapted to local standards. Then the rush is on, and this can have a significant impact on quality.
Considering the need for localization from the beginning and choosing the right software and localization specialists, translations can be automated and accelerated on a technical level. In this case, translators will be able to deliver better and more contextual results. Translation companies can often advise on processes and user-friendly translation management tools for a specific task. Well-established processes and specific instructions are essential in a localization strategy to ensure effective localization in digital product development.
If your competitors have already localized their products, you can't afford not to follow suit. If your competitors haven't started localizing yet, you can gain a real competitive advantage by taking action now. Don't underestimate the value of selling to and serving customers in their native language when your main competitors offer English-language products only. Ultimately, the language of business is not English but the language of your customer.
The best way to demonstrate your attention to existing and potential clients abroad is to localize your website. When overseas buyers and potential customers visit your website and find information in their language, their experience of your company changes for the better. Visitors to your site will not only understand what services you provide, but they will also have more confidence in your company and the resources that your web page offers. Professional language service providers will help you find the right localization experts.
Good reputation across markets
In business, the company's reputation plays an important role. Localizing for your target audience will extend your reputation beyond borders. Customer trust is key here: Seeing the information in their native language increases the users’ confidence in your company and its services.
Localizing your website will help you to establish a strong international reputation. English to Spanish translation services are becoming more popular in the United States as demographics change in many states. In Canada, along with English, the French language remains of great importance. In the European Union, new member states and the redistribution of labor resources across Europe drive many companies to consider the linguistic needs of the newly emerging market segments.
Effective communication with foreign clients
Localizing your software product will allow you to reduce the cost of user support where it costs the most – abroad. Properly conducted localization will not only reduce the number of support calls. It will also help foreign users to better understand the features of your product, which, in turn, will increase the level of satisfaction of your customers.
Many companies already selling their products overseas are looking for ways to increase sales in overseas markets. There are two possible ways to achieve this goal: by increasing market coverage or selling in new regions. Localization can help you by providing customers with a compelling case for purchasing your products and providing market coverage not otherwise possible.
Reducing legal risks
Many states require that goods sold on their territory are labeled in their native language(s). In addition, the translation of contracts, agreements, and user agreements helps to minimize potential conflicts associated with misunderstandings and language barriers. Users are required to comply with the terms of the copyright agreements in their language.
Localization project and examples
Localization goes well beyond translation. It involves the whole process of defining the target market and adapting to the local language and culture. Translation is only one of the elements of localization. The overall message, color schemes, designs, and images should reflect the target market's specific language and cultural preferences. So, if you are trying to localize your product, don’t just translate the copy, but ensure that it is contextual in terms of language and culture.
Below are a couple of examples of localization projects in which I participated:
- Joobleis a popular international job aggregator. It allows users to search for offers from employers on a huge, constantly updated database collected from the most popular job sites worldwide. Today the Jooble service operates in 60 countries. The platform offers a localized user interface as well as translated help and legal materials for the Jooble.org website into 16 languages, including Tagalog.
The source materials were provided in .docx files containing texts mixed with HTML code and links to screenshots that explain the context of certain lines. The translation was done right inside the HTML code while the translators left the original markup intact. Thanks to this, the integration of translation took minimum time from the customer. All work was carried out by native speakers, professional translators with extensive experience in working with texts in HTML format. When the addition of the translated texts to the site was completed, full linguistic testing of the site was carried out. Thus, the problem of "long lines" that did not fit in the space allocated to them was solved. Also, the translation of some lines – the meaning of which was unclear without context – was corrected. You can see the result on the Jooble website by selecting the required country from the drop-down list at the top right.
- Skyscanner is a metasearch engine and travel agency based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The site is available in over 30 languages and is used by 100 million people per month. Even though this product is somewhat unusual, the principle of its operation is so simple and easy to understand that our native translators were able to complete it in a short time. The site (resource .po files) was localized into three languages (French, Spanish, German), and the integrated translations were then checked. You can see the result on the official website by selecting one of the above languages in the combo box.
- Viberis one of the most popular apps for free calling, messaging, pictures, and video over Wi-Fi and 3G. At the end of last year, the app was used by over 260 million people worldwide. The messenger is available for smartphones and computers.
The first version of the application was released in December 2010. The developers are constantly updating the messenger to make the interface more convenient, add new features, and quickly fix bugs.
In this regard, Viber was looking for a team of localizers capable of adapting to the high rates of updates and performing high-quality translation into any language as quickly as possible. The task is not a trivial one, but thanks to the use of cloud technologies and translation memory, a solution has been found. For Viber and other large localization projects, the cloud-based translation management platform Crowdin was used. With its help, a whole team of translators and editors is working on a project simultaneously, without interfering with each other.
Years of experience of our clients in foreign markets confirm that business is carried out in the buyer's language. Localization is one of the deeper and more complex types of translation, but it cannot be used interchangeably with translation. These are two different approaches to solving various problems. While localization always includes translation, translation does not necessarily include localization. When introducing a product to the global market, it is vital to have a localization strategy, use best practices, and automate all possible processes.