EVERYTHING THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LOCALIZATION
Global expansion is when a fast-growing business enters lucrative international markets. Companies seeking to reach the next level of growth can achieve that by establishing a presence in a targeted foreign country.
Suppose you are working for a company looking for international growth or you are a business owner. In that case, you will sooner or later deal with the question of what Localization is and whether localizing your products is essential or not for your international success. In this article, we will arm you with the fundamentals of Localization to prepare you for any future localization plan.
1. What is Localization
Localization refers to the process of adapting a product, service, or content to make it suitable and relevant for a specific target audience or market in a different geographic or cultural region. Localization aims to ensure that the product or content appears as if it were initially created for that particular audience, considering their language, cultural norms, preferences, and regulatory requirements.
2. The Differences Between Localization And Translation
Localization and translation are related but distinct processes for adapting content for different languages and cultures. Here are the key differences between them regarding:
Translation: Translation refers to converting text or content from one language to another while preserving the original meaning and intent. It focuses primarily on linguistic accuracy.
Localization: Localization goes beyond translation. It involves adapting not only the language but also the content, design, and functionality of a product or service to make it culturally relevant and suitable for a specific target audience.
Translation: Translation aims to convey the same message in another language without necessarily considering cultural nuances, idioms, or local references.
Localization: Localization takes into account cultural differences, such as idiomatic expressions, local customs, holidays, symbols, and imagery. It ensures that the content is relatable and resonates with the target audience.
Translation: Translators primarily focus on changing words from one language to another while maintaining the original structure and format of the content.
Localization: In Localization, content may be modified to align with local norms and preferences. This can include altering images, changing color schemes, or adjusting text length to fit the design layout.
Translation: The target audience for translated content is often broader, as it is meant to be understood by speakers of the target language regardless of their location.
Localization: Localization targets a specific cultural or regional audience, tailoring content to their specific needs and expectations.
Translation: Translators focus on linguistic context, grammar, and vocabulary to ensure accurate communication.
Localization: Localization considers the broader cultural and social context in which the content will be used, taking into account factors like local laws, market trends, and cultural sensitivities.
Tools and Expertise:
Translation: Translators require strong language skills and often use translation tools and dictionaries to assist in their work.
Localization: Localization experts, in addition to language skills, possess cultural knowledge and may work with software engineers, designers, and marketing specialists to ensure a comprehensive adaptation.
Translation: Translating a user manual from English to Spanish.
Localization: Adapting a website for a Japanese audience, which includes changing not only the text but also the date format, currency symbols, and images to align with Japanese customs.
In summary, while translation is a crucial component of Localization, Localization encompasses a broader set of considerations, including cultural adaptation, content modification, and context-aware adjustments, to create a more culturally and regionally relevant experience for the target audience.
3. The Importance Of Localization For Businesses
To stay relevant on a global scale you have to be able to understand your target audiences thoroughly. If you prepare to take your company international, Localization will play a key role in its success.
Here are some of the benefits of Localization:
Enhance Customer Satisfaction
Localization is much more than just direct translation. It is about carefully refining and adapting content to resonate with the specific culture and meet local peculiarities. Companies usually spend millions of dollars crafting global campaigns only to find that their new slogan translates into something that isn’t in a correct way in their target market.
Localization will help to hinder you from falling head over heels into pitfalls like these. It will help you to support a more appealing user experience for your diversifying clientele and in doing so, increase your overall customer conversions.
Grow Your Customer Base
The ability to expand a company’s potential customer base is essential in today’s globalized world. Launching existing products to new markets through translation and localization management is necessary for international growth. Localization helps to reduce the barrier for new potential consumers, as localized products suit local market conditions better and decrease cultural boundaries.
Allow You To Enter New Markets More Promptly
The localization process can speed up the time it takes to enter new markets as localized products help overcome cultural barriers, then consumers are more likely to talk about the product. Companies that localize content tend to see an increase in engagement and market share from diverse clientele.
4. How To Succeed With Your Localization Project
In most cases, the ultimate costs regarding the Localization of your software or website will be less than the returns from the opportunities it brings. If you’ve decided to localize your product or service, make sure to verify whether it’s even localization-ready and choose the right tools to ceaselessly link Localization into your processes.
So, where to start? With so many factors associated with a skillfully conducted localization project, this can be a frightening task. Like most aspects of business, if you want to get the results, success often lies in the planning steps. Take a look at six steps in preparing your localization strategy.
Plan and Research
Try to determine the specific foreign markets where you have a decent chance of success, and analyze your website traffic visitors and software users. Do you get a lot of visits from Eastern Europe? How similar is the cultural aspect? What about their legislation? Do you have any local resources on the ground that you can achieve? There are more than 4 billion internet connections around the globe. However, that doesn’t mean they will all be keen on your product. Reduce your focus through substantial research and planning in the first place.
During your planning and research stage, you will need to make sure to consider essential elements, including your software design layout. Languages account for different amounts of space. The last thing you want is to bring a beautifully functioning product when translated into French, German, or Arabic is different from its previous layout design. Don’t even think about taking hard-coded design elements, as you’re going to be having problems.
Develop Your Team
Prospect localization needs a rock-solid team. One of the hardest things to do is putting your teams together. You have to ensure that you possess the right skill sets and talents and that each team member can be associated with the other, which means a lot to have a smooth collaboration. More than likely, the majority of your team will be working far away, in different parts of the globe. You’ll need native translators who can transcreate if necessary. They’ll need to understand local slang and vocabulary and catch the tone and voice of local customers.
However, they will need to grasp some elementary technical skills as well. Start to discuss HTML and strings with a person who hardly knows how to use a computer. As a result, the conversation will not go very far. That is the reason why you will need professional software developers who understand how to operate Unicode and employ internationalization techniques. They will have to develop an understanding of translators’ work. Instead of passing them random strings to translate, they should know how important the context is.
Choose The Right Tool
Applying the right Translation Management Software (TMS) will make or break your software localization project. One suitable TMS will bring many essential features that will allow you to continuously guide your team and ensure that team members are on the same page. Check out a web-based platform that will help you manage your global team more productively with improved outcomes and reduced costs.
Be sure that API will make your automation simple. An in-built API will allow your programmers to integrate with your current tools and workflow. Being able to import locale files promptly and accessibly is vital. Especially if you want to localize into a wide range of languages or work with clients for more software localization projects. The TMS should support your team members to cooperate collaboratively and leave messages for each other, upload screenshots, tag people, leave feedback, and generally make the project more accessible. You can even improve your workflow and decrease the technical training involved by translating directly onto your software or website.
There is no need for localizing with spreadsheets or spreading long emails and scrolling through your inbox trying to find out what you’re searching for as well. You will also get to establish a translation memory that will help you to accomplish projects faster. It will save frequently used terms in the language you’re working in and allow your translators to proceed more quickly through the task.
Prepare Your Software Solutions
In many circumstances, Localization is considered unnecessary and too time-consuming, so many companies don’t pay more attention until the damage is already done. You might find yourself having to completely rebuild your entire project to support other languages because your developers did not care about other languages, international formats, or other necessary localization attributes when they wrote the code.
All it takes is a tiny mistake to send everything careening off a cliff. Errors in content can be replicated and amplified in various language versions if they’re not filtered carefully beforehand. You had better internationalize your software from the very first place if you don’t want to spend months fixing localization bugs after translation. That means you’ll be able to add new languages to your software with greater ease and reduced effort.
Your developers will use Unicode (UTF-8) throughout your software to standardize encoding between languages. It maintains an instinct symbol for all characters and can be affected by almost every language in the world. Your programmers will also separate the source code from the translated strings and save it for future goals, and then, you can adjust the data to each new language, which means you won’t have to break the strings when you want to convert it into a new language. The internationalization of software will also help you set codes for local preferences, which makes changing number formats, dates, times, measurements, and currencies easier.
Website localization and Localization of your marketing elements can incredibly enhance your SEO. And if you’re talking about your company’s mobile app or app version of your software, your ASO strategy is equally essential. Therefore, once your software localization is successful, you will need to ensure that your SEO strategy is consistent. Even though many people consider this approach as the end of the project, your SEO/ASO strategy is better prepared from the first stage. You will need your foreign-language content converted and optimized with the right keywords and search terms used by browsers on the web and the app store.
You will need to establish links to your website from local sites that achieve your business or pass on relevant PR and link juice. If all your third-party website links are linking to your English site version, you will have a competitive battle when it comes to local SEO. Search is increasingly local, and consumers will be shown the most relevant results that are nearest to them. Localizing your website by adding local phone numbers, pages, etc. will help your SERP ranking. It’s very similar to the app store. If you have a great app localized into French, it will not do you any good unless you have the right keywords. You just cannot be seen among the competitors.
Also, spend time to find out the most popular search engines and app stores in the market you want to expand. In China, people are interested in using Baidu. In Russia, they are familiar with Yandex. There are also hundreds of different app stores in China and a notable absence of Google Play. Get your strategy geared up for the wrong channels and you will fail to get your software localization project known. Or worse, you will be expelled from a market for not following the rules.
Linguistic Testing and Localization Services
There is one essential step that can’t be missing. You need to factor both Localization and linguistic testing into your software localization strategy. Find local testers to make sure that your message is meaningful, grammatically correct, and appealing to users. Programmers who can replicate the user experience across various operating systems and platforms. Localization testing will make sure that your software works well and at optimal speed. That there are no broken translations, forms, or code. You will also re-check that the images, symbols, and icons you’ve used are culturally applicable. If you feel confident that your product is not at fault, you can bet your customers will. It’s much better to delay your launch a few more days than deal with customer complaints or bad reviews.
5. Final thoughts
It is certainly true that for some, business localization is often easier said than done. Since proper processes and responsibilities need building up – that does not mean that it requires some challenges. By properly localizing your content, you can considerably reduce your time to market by optimizing the efficiency of localized software. Using the right tools and streamlining the localization process can eliminate irrelevant and repeated manual work.
Now, you can break your business localization project into a measurable bite-sized project. You must ensure that you invest adequate time in the planning step to align with what’s performed above. Establish a team that works well together, and make sure that you use the correct translation management tool. Internationalize your software from the very outset and work on your ASO/SEO strategies well in advance. Once you’ve completed all these tasks and your process gets going, you need to measure your return on investment.