Software localization works to adapt software to the target market’s cultural, technical and linguistic requirements. The process is highly labor intensive and must be completed by experts in localization to work properly. Professional teams work together to ensure a seamless transition to the target market.
Why Choose Localization Over Traditional Translation
Traditional translation only considers the language of the software where localization looks at the big picture. It ensures that all cultural norms are also addressed so that those using the software are comfortable with all aspects of it. Translation of your software is part of the localization process and it typically occurs following the finalization of the source document.
Standard Process for Software Localization
When software is properly localized, the final product will feel and look like software that was initially designed and written for the market you are trying to target. For example, if you have software from Germany localized to China, the final product will feel and look like you originally created it with the China market in mind and no one will ever know that it was originally created for the German market and simply adapted to the China market.
In addition to the language, many things need to be changed to work for your target market, including:
- Measuring units
- Address formats
- Paper sizes
- Default font selection
- Character sets
- Word separation and hyphenation
- Copyright issues
- Payment methods
- Number formats
- Time and date formats
- Case differences
- Local regulations
- Data protection
- Currency conversion
There are specific steps involved in the standard localization process. How a company approaches this differs from company to company, but these basic steps are almost always involved in the process. Once these steps are complete, software has been completely localized to your target market. The following are basic steps in the software localization process.
- Analyzing the materials the company receives and figuring out which resources and tools will be necessary to complete the localization process.
- Assessment of the technical, cultural and linguistic requirements for the localization process.
- Create all necessary terminology glossaries and work to maintain them.
- Determine the target language and completely translate the software to that language.
- Adapt the user interface for the target market, including resizing all of the necessary dialogs and forms.
- Localizing the scripts, graphics and other associated media that contains things like symbols and visible text.
- Build and compile all localized files so that they can be fully tested.
- Perform quality assurance on the functional and linguistic aspects of the software.
- Deliver the fully localized software to the client.
How long the process takes ultimately depends on the type of software being localized and its overall size and complexity. Companies will give you a time estimate prior to starting the process.
It is imperative that you only work with experts in software localization when bringing software to a new market. This ensures that everything is properly adapted and translated for the target market. There are many small tasks that result in optimal localization so that your software is useful for the global market.