Tips for Effective Product Localization

Localization is the embodiment of the principle of user friendliness: approximately 75% of people in the world feel more free and confident when using products in their native language, rather than in English.

Localization shouldn’t be the last thing – it should be an integral part of the development process. Therefore, embedding localization strategy in development planning and development cycles is critical. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the solutions and share some best practices.

Difficulties of localization at the interface with development

Companies that do not pay enough attention to localization planning often make mistakes that could have been avoided. The main problem arises from a misplaced relationship between developers, localization managers and translators. Texts submitted for translation (usually the user interface) and localized versions are not updated synchronously. For example, code for certain text areas may not be aware that some languages ​​need more space — and this must be corrected manually.

This is not the only nuisance: it may also happen that the launch will have to be postponed in new geographic regions. Often, managers are late in learning that not everything has been translated or that the developed product is not fully adapted to local standards. And in order to be in time, you have to rush – and rush reduces quality.

The right approach from the start

Taking into account the need for localization from the very beginning of development and choosing the right software and localization specialists, translations can be automated and accelerated at a technical level. In this case, translators will be able to provide a better and more contextual result.

Translation companies can often advise on processes and user-friendly translation management tools for a specific task. For example, we are in Alconost, we often develop our own connectors for integrating content management systems, which allows us to achieve a high degree of automation.

Stages of product localization and recommendations

Well-established processes and specific instructions are important in a localization strategy to ensure effective localization in digital product development.

The localization process can be broken down into five phases that combine elements of linguistics, development, and product management.

Stage 1. Verification of sources

After adding the source texts in the original version of the product and before submitting them for translation, they must be proofread. Proofreading can take place at several levels, either in the source file or in translation management software. After eliminating grammatical and spelling errors, you can proceed to the next stage. Delaying proofreading tends to increase the workload as errors affect the target languages ​​as well: source and localized versions of the product have to be rewritten and corrected.

In addition, the source material must be culturally, technically and linguistically assessed (this can be done by a localization company).

Stage 2. Testing localization (pseudo-localization)

The next step is usually to launch a pilot (non-English) language to see if the stable version of the product is ready for localization. By testing the ability to localize in one language, you can identify problem areas in the development and design of interface elements.

Feedback is collected from users of the respective region and testers, as well as from third-party specialists. After fixing all the problems, you can start translating into other languages.

Stage 3. Working with a third-party localization company

At this point, it is a good idea to stop the UI changes, block the content, and push the updates to a future sprint. The translation company needs to provide all the necessary materials and information, including the tools and software used for translation (cloud platforms, CRM, CMS and other translation tools). Translation management platforms are often used to automate and optimize the quality of translations (for example, Crowdin), in which all parties work, including localization agencies.

We recommend giving localizers access to the working version of the product so that they can understand the context. Localization instructions, style guides and glossaries should also be provided.

Regular communication within the translation platform, organizational call to launch localization and weekly follow-up calls help to achieve a good result.

Stage 4. Assessment of translation quality

After the translator has completed the work, usually another third-party linguist is involved to assess the quality of the localized product and proofread the text. In addition, style, grammar and spelling are checked against rules, glossaries and guidelines. At this stage, you can see if there are any untranslated lines left for some reason.

Stage 5. Correction of the interface and translation of other texts

After the translation has been completed, the interface can, if necessary, be further adapted: localize elements such as graphics, fonts, colors, and so on.

Problems and solutions in continuous localization

The next step in your localization strategy is to establish an effective continuous localization process to ensure that texts, code, product changes, and new messages in your application are up to date.

In terms of scope and scope of work, this process differs from launching a new language: new lines for translation appear more often, but usually in less volume. Developers, product managers, and the selected localization service provider must work together to establish an automated and efficient process. Continuous localization requires operating procedures, glossaries and style guides to be followed.

Regular translations that are small in volume are often better done using professional software (without resorting to machine translation). For example, using our text translation service Nitro you can get a professional translation within a few hours.

Integration of translation management software

A key, company-friendly solution is the use of translation software that localization specialists work with. Such software usually integrates with websites and company platforms via API or CLI.

And on such platforms, product managers, localization specialists and translators receive notifications when a new line (word, phrase, paragraph) needs to be translated. And then they either immediately start translating (if there is such an agreement), or wait for the assignment to be assigned.

If the integration is configured, the translated strings appear immediately in the product, and you do not need to send and receive files every time. Continuous localization can occur in daily or weekly cycles, or as part of a sprint. After product changes or company rebranding, glossaries and style guides may also need to be updated.

Quality control

Finally, frequent quality checks can be implemented in the form of linguistic testing, which will improve the product and its user experience.

Linguistic testing is when a localization specialist tests a build on the appropriate local OS version. At the same time, screenshots of problems are taken (untranslated text, strings that do not fit into the screen, incorrect encoding, text direction or context) and, with the help of developers, changes are made to resource files.

So, initial and subsequent continuous localization is an integral part of new product development. Therefore, when introducing a product to the global market, it is very important to have a localization strategy, use best practices and automate all possible processes.

Need help with localization / translation? – We at Alconost are always happy to help!

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Alconost professionally deals with localization of games, applications and sites in over 70 languages. Linguistic testing, cloud platform with API, continuous localization, 24/7 project management, any format of string resources.
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