The Importance of Software Localization for International Businesses

Turn Software Localization from Threat to Opportunity

Software Localization ServicesIn 2015, the United States Census Bureau revealed that over 350 languages are spoken in American homes. The majority of the population speaks English, but in places like the New York metro area, 1/3 of people speak a language other than English at home.

We are living in a global market even at home. Competing requires localized marketing and localized products, even when software development is involved. Instead of local or “multinational” companies, we now have “global” companies.

The difference between the two is the standardization of processes. Where multinationals adapted to new marketing, global businesses work from a different model. That model is localization and translation.

Software development has become ubiquitous. Regardless of your industry, the trend towards digitization and digital transformation has pushed many companies to rely extensively on developing their own software applications for in-company use, or to enable their clients to access their products and services online.

Even if you were to only sell to customers in the U.S., you could miss some markets if you don’t translate that software. If you’re attempting to sell software or other products to an international market, you will be doing your customers a disservice by engaging with them in only one language.

Software localization is an important strategy for businesses attempting to reach international markets. If you want to know what localization could mean for your business, the answers are below.

What Is Software Localization?

Software localization is the adaptation of software to meet the requirements of a specific language or culture. It’s also known as L10N. Software localization is different from software internationalization, also known as I18N.

Internationalization is the development of a product in a way to enable and facilitate localization. It may help with localization, but they are separate.

While internationalization is part of product development, it’s best to view localization as an extension of product development. If you plan to sell software to an international market, link the localization steps to your development.

Too often, localization is sought after software development is complete. This creates more pronounced problems when Agile software development is the framework applied. The development and commercial sides of your business work in tandem, not separate. Through incremental sprints, engineering and your localization service provider can work together to release localized content throughout all software updates.

There are five key steps to software localization:

  • Identify resource files to translate creating a localization kit
  • Translate content (using native translators)
  • Review translations for errors
  • Place translated files into your code structure
  • Resize dialog boxes as needed
  • Build, compile and test resulting software for all target markets

The processes of localization also involve localizing error strings and messages, online help, EULA and other assets, all with global markets in mind.

Why Is Software Localization Important For International Businesses?

Without localization, it’s impossible to have a truly global software market. Many businesses sell products to international markets. Those who don’t adhere to the cultural and linguistic norms of their target customers risk losing their customers’ trust.

Many start-ups emerged during the age of globalization. They have an understanding of the global marketplace. Start-ups need localization and translation services to reach a variety of markets.

But localization is important for businesses of all sizes. Focusing only on English-speaking markets neglects a sizable chunk of the world population.

Consider this: There are over 7,000 living languages in the world. Native English speakers only represent 4.83% of the world population. Even in single-language countries, many potential customers may speak a different language. Even if your market is bilingual, some may be more comfortable with one language over the other.

For example, Spanish website translation and localization in the U.S. is necessary. The country has a booming Hispanic population. 13.3% of the U.S. population, aged 5 and older, speaks Spanish.

Rates of English-speaking people are high in the United States’ Hispanic population. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t localize your software for Spanish speakers. Failing to do so could mean missed opportunities.

Here are three reasons why software localization is important for international businesses:

Reach New Markets Fast

Incorporate internationalization and localization into your software’s development early on. That way, you’ll be ready to deploy to more markets once your product is ready. It’s a much more expensive and time-consuming process to localize software after the fact.

Before engaging in a localization effort, identify the most promising markets for your product. You can use this information to determine where to start your campaign.

Agile software development helps you deploy your products even faster. Doing a complete overhaul of your product is too expensive. Thus, you should use a team of linguists, translators, engineers, and developers to deliver results in sprints.

Expand Your Customer Base

Your customer base represents repeat customers who renew and keep using your product. Localization ensures your customers enjoy your product and share their experience with others. As new customers become repeat customers, you’ll create more reliable revenue streams.

If your software is accessible to those communities, you’ll see more benefits. Word-of-mouth marketing and social media chatter can help you boost your customer base.

Improve the User Experience

In software, user experience (UX) is more important than any other feature. Every dollar invested in UX returns $10 to $100 to your company. By localizing your software, you are significantly enhancing user experiences all over the world.

Localize your software for target markets from the start. This will help you bring in more revenue and avoid costly corrections down the road. But it is never too late to start localization.

UX localization goes beyond language translation. You need to understand the cultural context and special locale requirements.

For example, in China, Taiwan and the rest of the islands, it is easy to say that everyone speaks “Chinese,” but “Chinese” refers to several branches of one core language. The majority of the country speaks Mandarin Chinese, but specific localities may prefer Min, Wu, Jin, and other dialect groups. Also, you need to know the difference between Simplified and Traditional Chinese.

If you intend to market to these customers, both your UX design and your translations matter. They should conform to the cultural norms and linguistic trends of their localities.

Get the Right Software Localization Services

Making software accessible and practical in another language is no simple task. Don’t assume you can start the process once your software hits the market.

Localization requires years of experience in translation and an understanding of app and software development.

GlobalVision International, Inc. provides businesses around the world with translation and software localization services. We translate from and into over 100 different languages.

We can convert your products into new languages and localize them for use by new customers. Our focus is on quality, service, and innovation. Our goal is that both you and your end-users thrive and become successful.

Whether you need a simple translation or an overhaul of your user interface, GlobalVision works to understand your goals and help you develop a plan for localization.


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