While in process of validating new international markets, and in an effort to reduce new market entry costs, many software publishers delegate the localization of their product to a distributor or a value added reseller (VAR). The VAR, to minimize overhead, attempts to sell the software in English, but soon finds out that market potential is very limited when the product does not speak the client’s language. Hastily, they attempt user interface localization. They apply machine translation or assign the localization task to a field engineer to complete over a weekend or two.
With the software User Interface (UI) “localized”, the VAR can now tick the language support checkbox during product evaluations hoping to sell the product in this newly created market.
Localization Drives Sales
Encouraged by the prospects of rising sales, corporate decides to invest further into that newly developed market and takes over the localization effort for that region and language. With the UI allegedly “localized”, they decide to augment the offering by localizing the help and manuals.
Ignorant about the horrific quality the localized UI is in, orders come from upper management to the localization group to adopt the localized UI and proceed with the localization of the help and manuals. When the localization group sees the horrors in the “localized” UI, it objects to the quality. But they are sneered at stating that the UI is fine and that the product is already selling as is. “Just do what you’re told and localize the manuals!”
Failed Localization Attempt
The localization team takes the marching orders in stride and proceeds to localize the help and manuals making it consistent to the appalling terminology used in the UI, trying hard to work it out. But the further they proceed into their work, the more obvious it becomes that none of it will hold once complete. The only recourse is to completely redo the UI and then thoroughly edit the translations that have taken place.
Aghast at the costs and delays involved in correcting, not just the UI, but also the voluminous help and manuals, management points the finger and its recently engaged localization team!
User Interface Localization
You see, you cannot build a software product on inaccurate user interface localization. UI elements, such as menu items, tool tips, dialog boxes and error messages are referenced throughout the entire help and manuals. They have to be accurate and consistent for the product to be useful to its users and for the help to have a chance to do what it is supposed to do—help! The UI is the foundation of the product. Building a localized product on a crooked foundation will lead to the collapse of the entire product. If for a miraculous reason it does not collapse, it will remain forever as vacant as the leaning Pisa Tower!
It pays to have your user interface professionally localized. The UI typically is not very verbose which makes it harder, but not as costly as help and manuals to localize. Take care of your product’s foundation and the localized help and manuals, the training and tutorials, the website and the sales collateral, will all fall nicely in place!
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