To localize or not to localize? That is quite a common question for software publishers and developers. Offering a software product in one version is no longer a default choice to reach out to international users or to ensure user-friendliness. Even if your target users have a perfect command of the English language in everyday communication, chances are they might be confused once they have to deal with highly specialized or technical phrases displayed in your software.
Sure, many non-native speakers would easily decipher the meaning of simple commands such as ‘Close’ or ‘Save’, however, the vast majority of inexperienced users would probably struggle with more complicated notifications such as ‘Failed to enumerate SSL bindings’ or ‘String or binary data would be truncated’. Making your message clear is not the only reason why investing in software localization may turn out to be a great idea. There’s much more you and your users can gain with software localization:
1. Increased market share and international sales
Once your software is localized and available in several languages, it becomes much easier to enter a new market. More localized versions mean more products that you can sell to users across the world. This in turn can increase your profit and strengthen your company’s position in the local and global market.
2. Reaching out to new users and customers
There are many marketing strategies for increasing the number of your software users. Localization, if done correctly, makes your software available and understandable to a wider audience. There is only a limited number of customers that could benefit from your software if it’s available in one language or in one region. By adding more locales to your product you’ll be able to expand your group of potential buyers and convince them to use your software in their native language.
3. Ensuring a better understanding of product functionalities
If your customers can fully understand and interact with the text displayed in your software, they will also be able to use the product correctly and learn about its functionalities. Only if all buttons, menu lists, commands, messages and notifications are clear, your customers will be able to recognize all advantages of using your application. In this way, no language barriers will stand in their way to exploit the full potential of your product.
4. Reducing support costs
Correct software localization which ensures readability and preserves the original functionality will help your users understand your product, which in turn ensures better customer experience. In this way, you can reduce the number of potential queries about your product and ease the workload of your service desk. As a result, the support costs can be lowered and your company can invest in other activities.
5. Gaining competitive advantage
In a time of severe competition, offering a product in several languages may be a way to differentiate your brand from other providers. You’ll be able to enter markets that are still unattainable to your competitors because of the language barrier. If your competitors already sell localized software and you don’t follow this trend, you might be losing potential customers who are more likely to purchase products in their native language.
Software localization is a good strategy to build a strong, international brand and gain the trust and loyalty of your potential customers. This, however, can be only achieved if your product is localized correctly and contains no functionality bugs or readability issues such as untranslated strings, spelling or grammar errors, cut-off texts or small font sizes, and unclear abbreviations used to fit the strings to the limited space. After all, what is the point of localizing your products if you can’t ensure good quality and meet the expectations of your users? So, double-check with your linguists and testers to make sure that your localized software is fully functional and that all bugs have been repaired. Only then you’ll be able to enjoy the business benefits that go together with software localization.
Dorota blogs about software and website localization. You can access her blog here.