Localization strategy

Everything You Need to Know About Software Translation

Software translation increases the usability of a product by making it accessible to users worldwide in their native language. Here's how it works.
Localization strategy blog category featured image | Phrase

So you’ve developed your software and now you’re ready to capture the attention of a broader audience. But potential clients keep asking how many languages your software is available in. Isn’t it about time you thought about software translation? Here, you’ll find everything you need to know: from why you need software translation and localization to how to do it – and when you can start measuring ROI!

Software Translation Is Essential for Global Businesses

Globalization has opened local markets to all companies. They are now operating in multiple countries with multinational teams and a global working environment.

Even if English is still the language for business, most local software users may not have the language skills needed to operate your product efficiently. Especially if you sell software used in manufacturing or pharma, for example.

Companies that use automation to streamline workflow can’t afford errors due to misunderstandings, so they use translated software instead. One that workers can understand and work with easily, to increase productivity.

If your software doesn’t “speak” local languages like a native, it isn’t suitable for specific local markets. And that means you risk losing business opportunities.

When your software is available in multiple languages, you can sell anywhere in the world. The internet has removed all borders, enabling companies to achieve consistent growth through global sales.

Software Translation vs. Software Localization

However, plain software translation may not be enough to impress potential clients. Companies need tools that can be easily integrated into local cultures for increased efficiency. This means that your software must meet local needs while keeping a global feel.

Software localization is about more than having translators rewrite your content and knowledge base into local languages, though. Software localization means adapting your product to a local market, not only by adopting the language but also by understanding the local culture and constraints.

IT is a specialized industry, and many people struggle to understand many concepts. Imagine how a clumsy word-to-word translation could make things even more difficult for employees with no technical skills--which makes up the majority of users of any software.

When you localize your software, you increase its usability. You add value to your clients and differentiate your brand from competitors. It’s not an easy process, but it will pay off in the long run with increased sales, market share, and growing brand recognition.

Software Internationalization

Now that you understand why software translation and localization are so important for your future in the software market, you need to start planning a cohesive global strategy.

You can’t carry out software localization overnight. First, you need to internationalize your software, which means preparing it to be translated and localized for multiple languages and dialects.

You need to separate strings from code, never concatenate strings, and build a flexible code that can operate with different text lengths.

This means ensuring that you have enough space to accommodate different languages. For instance, “repeat password” turns into “Passwort wiederholen” in German or “επανάληψη κωδικού πρόσβασης” in Greek.

You should prepare your software for all contingencies. Some languages use a different alphabet or read from right to left. And in other countries, people use periods instead of commas to denominate large numbers.

When you write the code, make sure that your software can support all locales, to make localization easy.

Software Localization Requires Diligent Research

Next, you need to decide which languages to localize into. The software localization checklist is long and can be expensive. Since you’ll want to minimize your costs, be sure to analyze the strength of the business opportunity before hiring translators.

A successful software localization project starts with market research. Examine all elements, such as potential companies that could benefit from implementing your software, local competitors, global software providers that already have a solid local presence, and whether your niche is a growing market in the region.

You also need to consider the additional costs of entering the market. These include, among other things, corporate and legal expenses, sales and marketing, and investment in infrastructure and customer support.

All these details are crucial clues as to whether the market is worth spending on software localization or not. Otherwise, you risk investing in the wrong markets, and won’t see a return on your efforts.

You Need Software to Do Software Localization

A complicated process, software localization becomes impossible without a localization tool. As a software developer, you’ll understand better than anyone the impact of automation during a localization project.

A software localization tool enables collaboration between programmers, localization engineers, translators, project managers, and other specialists involved. It allows you to keep all the data in one place, giving instant access to information at all times. And allows you to keep track of your team’s progress.

Automated processes give you complete control over the way you use your resources. Its ability to measure efforts and results can also provide you with useful insights for scaling future localization projects. At the same time, the collected data and metrics are valuable when you need to calculate software localization ROI.

Software Translation and Localization Pay Off

Software localization ROI is hard to calculate, as revenues also depend on sales, marketing, and infrastructure. However, a study by the Localization Industry Standards Association revealed that the 20 largest IT companies that invested in localization saw an ROI increase of over 1,000 percent!

Software localization should be at the core of your global strategy. But you should note that consistent sales and revenue come when you’re compliant with local laws, implement a localized marketing strategy, and invest in active local customer support--just as you do for the English version of your software.