Quality software localization and localization updates are tremendously important if you want your translated software to reach worldwide audiences intact. Here are 8 reasons why (along with a few tips) software developers should rely on seasoned, professional translation and localization services when trying to increase their international digital footprint.
1. Plan for Software Localization and Localization Updates Ahead of Time
Software localization services and the software companies they support can avoid a panicked rush at the end of a project, or when localized software updates roll out, by committing to a localization schedule at the beginning of a project. A detailed schedule of when a software platform or a website need to be localized for international markets will help keep developers from having to dive into a mad localization dash that can lead to translation mistakes and poor end user experiences.
2. Invest in Pseudo-Localization
Pseudo-localization, also called pseudo-translation, is a method for testing software (and websites) before plunging into the full localization process. Pseudo-localization tools are a great way for software localization services to work out technical kinks or glitches before going all in, which should save time and money down the road. By setting up a localization practice run, your translation team can sift through what’s likely to work, and identify problems that might pop up at the same time, such as issues with font glyphs, text length, language direction or character sets.
3. Test Your (Software) Brains Out
As a general rule, professional translation and localization services should always meticulously test out localized software and localized software updates. Pseudo-localization, as discussed, is a great way to test the waters before jumping into the localization process. But once a project is more or less complete, test your (software) brains out by searching for problems with icons, text expansion and contraction, mistranslated vocabulary, snags with strings, plus a host of other localization issues that may arise. Test and retest to ensure a quality localized product.
4. Use Translation Memory
If you want to save time and lower translation costs, get to know, and rely upon translation memory. Translation memory (TM) is a database that stores source and translated segments (texts chunks and phrases), which then allows identical or similar (fuzzy matches) translated materials to be easily reused (and not discarded), as well as updated on the fly. TM helps increase the pace of translation and localization, while simultaneously decreasing costs by reducing a translator’s overall workload. Translation memory, along with a great translation management system (connecting clients and translation professionals), are powerful tools that should be utilized whenever possible.
5. Avoid Machine Translated Graphical User Interface Updates
Avoid software localization services that rely upon machine translations when in a rush to knock out graphical user interface (GUI) updates. Often, when a GUI localization update is rushed, errors and inconsistencies creep in, compromising the very foundations of the software application. While machine translation might seem like an easy choice when short on time, machine translation can actually get a good deal wrong, or come up with intelligible, but unnatural-sounding phrasing, which can mess up the entire localization process. Use skilled human translation talent, which will help ensure a software developer’s translation efforts don’t fall victim to sloppy machine translation errors.
6. Save Costs, But Don’t Cut Corners for Translated Software Manuals
These days, with the shift to Agile software development, software companies publish frequent software updates online. As developers move away from printed manuals to cheaper, faster releases of online help, translation quality often drops off. And while online updates lead to lower translation costs when compared to pricey printed materials, it’s important to remember that translated software manuals and troubleshooting guides fall into the document translations category (regardless if print or digital), which should always be proofed for errors or careless mistakes that occur when updates are hastily prepared. Use the savings that you achieve in eliminating print and shipping costs of manuals to improve your bottom line or to localize into additional languages; but keep the quality of the translation where it ought to be with international users’ expectations!
7. Handling Expanded and Contracting Text Strings
Always leave space for expanded text strings, and be prepared to deal with contracting text as well. Failing to do either is a rookie localization mistake. Many languages take up more space than English in written (text) form, such as French or German. On the other hand, languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean often take up less space (text contraction), which is something to be aware of when working with English Asian translations. Changing text sizes need to be dealt with when planning out the design aesthetics of localized software or websites, to avoid an end product that looks too crowded (with text), or too sparse, depending on the languages being used.
8. Always Stick with UTF-8 Encoding
Unicode Transformation Format 8-bit (UTF-8) encoding, in most translation and localization cases, is the encoding format your translation provider should stick with. Translation and localization services, whether working with English Chinese translations, or English Russian translations, or any other set of languages, can rely on UTF-8 (UTF-8 opens in a new window encodes all Unicode characters) to do the heavy lifting when it comes to localizing and encoding. UTF-8 lets your team translate and localize globally, while making the coding process easier to track, which in turn frees up time for other tasks, like pseudo-localization, software testing, and of course rolling out great localized software updates.
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