Localization strategy

3 Key Complexity Levels in Localization to Be Aware Of

Localization increases in complexity with team size and the number of projects/languages: Here's how to keep control in all three dimensions.
Localization strategy blog category featured image | Phrase

Localization is the process of adaptation that makes your product accessible to global audiences. It goes much beyond the mere translation of texts and often involves meticulous planning and coordinated teamwork.

Localization scenarios differ in three ways: the size of your team, the number of your projects, and the number of target languages. The increase in complexity in each dimension calls for technological assistance.

Simple Beginnings

If you are just starting out, you may have a team with people you can count on one hand and you localize for a small number of target markets. A blissful state. With such a limited scope, you probably do not worry too much about keeping things organized. All you need is to set up some standard localization libraries (e.g., i18next and gettext) and hire a dedicated translator team that can become familiar with your product.

Your localization process may be limited to three steps: file preparation, translation, and quality assurance. This means that you externalize your user interface strings into resource files and you hand these files over to the translator(s). Once they return translated resources to you, you integrate them into your system and test your software to ensure that the localized versions work as expected.

With a small team, you can still use normal communication means to keep everybody in the loop. If terminology questions arise, you simply cc the team and let all developers and translators know about possible issues and solutions.

As your team grows, your projects proliferate, your target markets expand, and complexity increases...

1. From small to large teams

A large development team is an indication of a large codebase, and as you add more people, you also have more frequent updates that will require translation. Cc’ing dozens of people is impractical – not only because of the mere size of the Cc list. You also want to avoid sending lots of emails to everybody that are only relevant to a small group. At the same time, you want to give people the opportunity to inspect issues when needed. As it becomes increasingly difficult to track the progress of translations, you would want a more centralized system.

With a translation management system (TMS), such as Phrase, you can simplify communications among your localization team members. The system sends notifications to translators when a translation project is set up – and when the translation is done, it will alert your developers or localization managers.

The TMS serves as a single point of truth for translation issues. Its glossary function allows you to define your terminology, and the translation memory becomes a living record of prior translations. The TMS helps the translators consult existing knowledge and reuse approved translations. This increases consistency and speeds up the process. Comments can be attached to individual translation segments or the project as a whole that are prominently visible to other project participants.

2. From few to many languages

You are expanding your global marketing strategy and aim to release your product in multiple regions or countries. Keeping track of translation statuses across dozens of languages is a real challenge without a good TMS. In Phrase, you can use your dashboard to gain a quick overview. You can see which languages are lagging behind with their translations and where you may have open issues.

Your developers are working hard adding new features to your product. You do not want them to be distracted by translation questions that do not directly pertain to them. Phrase offers fine-grained notifications that alert only the people who need to know based on their role in the process and the access granted to them. Furthermore, when team members insert a comment into a project, they can use the familiar “mention” feature to speak to a specific individual.

3. From few to many projects

Suppose you are developing and maintaining a web service with frequent software updates. Given the size of this service, you want to divide translation pushes into small, easy-to-maintain localization projects. Having dashboard and notification functions is great, but you want to automate your projects further. Here, Phrase’s integrations play a vital role. For example, you can hook up with your software repository – such as Bitbucket or GitHub – this way, your developers can initiate projects directly from the repository by pushing files to Phrase.

Translation management systems control complexity

Thus, as the complexity of your localization efforts increases, you will appreciate the automation functionality offered by Phrase. Instead of digging through your email inbox, you have a look at unread comments. Instead of maintaining spreadsheets by hand, you just glance at your dashboard. Instead of sending informational updates to multiple people and hoping for the best, you use a central translation repository as a single point of truth.