What is software localization?

Software localization is the process of adapting software to both the culture and language of an end user. Companies localize software to overcome cultural barriers and ensure their products reach a much larger target audience.

A software product that has been localized properly has the look and feel of a product originally written and designed for the target market. Imagine trying to set up a new TV, laptop or phone in a language you do not understand – it is likely to be time-consuming, frustrating, and even impossible. Although changing the language of a product’s user interface is crucial to ensuring electronic devices are usable, software localization goes beyond this. It also involves changes to visual layout and design elements to make software look and feel natural to the target user.

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More about software localization

How does software localization differ from traditional document translation?
Software localization is the translation and adaptation of a software or web product, including the software itself and all related product documentation.
Traditional translation is typically performed after the source document has been finalized, while software localization projects often run in parallel with the development of the source product to enable simultaneous shipment of all language versions. For example, the translation of software strings may start while the software product is still in the beta phase.
Translation is only one of the activities in a localization project – there are other tasks involved such as internationalization, project management, software engineering, testing, quality assurance and desktop publishing.
What is the standard software localization process?
The standard localization process includes the following basic steps:
  • Analysis of the material received, and evaluation of the tools and resources required for localization
  • Cultural, technical and linguistic assessment
  • Creation and maintenance of terminology glossaries
  • Translation into the target language
  • Adaptation of the user interface, including resizing of forms and dialog boxes, as required
  • Localization of graphics, scripts or other media containing visible text, symbols, etc
  • Compilation and build of the localized files for testing
  • Linguistic and functional quality assurance
  • Project delivery
What are the key benefits of a software localization tool?
With a software localization tool you can:
  • Work together effectively and use fewer development resources by connecting everyone in the translation process
  • Eliminate disjointed processes and save time for project managers with simple handling of projects in fewer manual steps and control over the whole process
  • Increase translation quality with built-in quality assurance (QA) checks to ensure quality remains high, and leverage terminology resources to increase consistency
  • Enable quicker time to market with support for agile development processes to easily manage more frequent and smaller content handoffs
  • Meet all your translation needs with all language versions of software shipped simultaneously
What elements need to be considered during software localization?
In the process of effectively localizing a software product or website, numerous factors beyond language must be considered, such as the placement of visual elements, text size, units of measurement, number formats, address formats, time and date formats (both long and short), paper sizes, fonts, default font selection, case differences, character sets, sorting, word separation, hyphenation, local regulations, copyright issues, data protection, payment methods, currency conversion and taxes.