The world runs on software. Everything from our telephones to our homes run on software. If your software is to be used by individuals or companies, you need to have it made local so that everyone who uses it feels right at home.
What is localization?
Localization is the concept of converting a piece of software from one language and region to another.
Wikipedia defines it this way, “In computing, internationalization and localization are means of adapting computer software to different languages, regional differences and technical requirements of a target market (locale).”
his definition speaks to the importance of adapting your software to each new language. It’s more than just language though. There is also culture and tone. These might seem like minor shifts, they are important if you’re the person receiving the software.
One of the most obvious examples is the difference between American English and British English. If you tell an American to put the box in the lorrey they will stand and stare at you. In the US, they are known as trucks.
A machine translation might or might not spot these differences, but a native speaker will spot them a kilometer (or kilometre or mile) away.
Finding the right localization team
There are several steps to finding the right localization team:
- Look for experience – Every day, a new company enters the field. They come in two types: The kind trying to make quick money and the kind that are made up of professionals. Look for the team that has experience, regardless of the age of the firm that they work for.
- A technical team – You will want a company that has a technical team that can understand all of the ins and outs of your software. They need to be able to find everything, from the main page to the error pages to the smallest page in your help files.
- Native translators – Native translators are the people who make sure that your software “goes native”. They can make sure that your software looks like it was written next door not on the other side of the country.
What to expect
The most important person for your needs is the project manager. This is a person who will assemble and guide the team that is localizing your software. They should speak both languages and understand the process. They don’t need to be programmers, but they should have a really clear sense of what your software does and what changes will need to be made.
The next thing you need is a plan. The company should provide you with a step-by-step plan. This will be the guide for what to expect.
Finally, expect to be a bit flexible. Nothing ever goes perfectly, so plan accordingly. Make sure, especially if your software is your ‘baby’ that you understand this simple idea. Otherwise, you might find the entire process far more stressful than you need it to be.