Localization strategy

SaaS Localization: Your Ultimate Checklist for Success

Follow these SaaS localization best practices to adapt your software, website, or app to international markets in an easy-to-manage way.
Localization strategy blog category featured image | Phrase

In a typical setting, a SaaS application is more than just a website. It’s a product that aims to capture all the user needs and demands in a convenient way – including presenting information that is relatively easy to grasp and use. This is where the importance of SaaS localization is critical to understand.

Setting the Right Priorities for SaaS Localization

Drawing up a list of priorities is the first critical step towards successful localization of your SaaS product. Here are the most urgent ones...

Choosing the Right Locales

You need to offer the right translations to the right audience, and that includes a careful selection of specific locales and translated text. For instance, if you have a big market in China or Japan, then it makes sense to prioritize the translation of Chinese and Japanese to gain them. You need to maintain the list of available locales small but relevant to be more maintainable. Later on, you can expand the list with locales that could help increase the user base, but in the beginning, you need to rationalize.

Translation Coverage

Make sure you take care of as many translation strings as possible. It wouldn't be credible to have half-baked translations or missing translations in a lot of places, for example, buttons, labels or modal messages. A Translation Management System can help here to keep track of missing messages. It will also help with reusing translation strings across projects and keeping things up to date.

Investing in Automation

The SaaS model of agile application includes lots of automation and continuous delivery. If you want to be agile, you also need to automate your translation pipeline to add tasks and events that aid in the successful delivery of the end product. Things like version control, git-ops, chat-ops, or webhooks can make an enormous difference in getting ahead of the competition. The more you invest in automation, the easier it gets to add new functionality and promote the business.

Investing in Localization Software

Last but not least, at some point, another SaaS vendor can help you with your localization needs. This means that you can invest in specialized software to scale up the localization process and cover your needs as you go. For example, in the beginning, you might have a limited plan only with a few tasks. As you grow, you may need to upgrade the plan to include project management, external integration, translation memory, etc. It makes sense to include it at the earlier stages of the product to make you and your team familiar working with it and mastering along the way. It will also help you find the right translators that will perform the localization.

The SaaS Localization Workflow Process

Now that you have your priority list and want to move forward to performing the actual translation, some preparation is needed. Here are the essential steps for achieving that goal...

Choosing the target media

First, you need to decide what to translate and how. For instance, text remain’s the first choice, but you could also localize images or videos. This would give you a considerable advantage as it will indicate you've got a unified approach to localization. If you offer the service as a dynamically generated content retrieved from an API, the process of updating the translations will be more comfortable. However, if you are precompiling the messages beforehand, you will need to cater for maintenance releases to update them in the production site. It’s critical to weigh the risks and benefits of each approach.

Organizing Teams

All stakeholders involved in the localization process should in-sync and in tune with each other. For example, you need a localization manager that is in charge and has the last word on software requirements and technology decisions. He or she needs to help the teams coordinate with each other to achieve consensus and task estimation. Communication is critical here, so teams should agree on their preferred ways of exchanging information.

Manage and Prioritize Tasks

All localization tasks need to be recorded in individual tickets. Thereby, you should differentiate between evergreen, standard tasks, and more refined, platform-specific issues. Spend some time with your team to discuss the best ways to complete all the tasks beforehand. The reasons for that are obvious: Adding localization to any software system should be a “fire-and-forget” solution. People expect to provide translations to an application ... and when it works – it works. We don’t go back every now and then to fix anything unless it’s proven it’s better.

Perform Translations

Keep your translators happy and give them all the required context that they need to perform well. If they have a particular software they prefer, then provide it. If they need pictures or designs, make sure that the UX team can deliver that. Use translation management software to monitor and record all the translation strings in a translation memory for subsequent reference.

Test Translations

Have a team of testers perform automated and manual localization testing to make sure everything is well on track. Instruct them to check for edge cases when the text is excessively long, contains special characters, the right locale is detected, and the images load correctly. Check for delays in the displaying of the text, flickering issues, currency, or number formats are for the target region. They need to provide a report of all the relevant test cases for auditing.


Everything changes – so do languages. From time to time, see changes are needed to be done, maybe using different wording or expressions, or there are some missing translation tasks in the backlog. It’s significant to be on top of those things – consistently perform maintenance checks and get regular feedback from users on the proper use of the language. The image of your SaaS platform should be a priority all the time to prevent any misunderstandings.

Wrapping It Up

As SaaS companies work effectively without borders, they need to be approachable by everyone on the planet. A key differentiator between companies that provide localization with the ones that don’t is the lack of strategic vision for unified accessibility against their user-base. This is more prevalent for critical services where the choice of wording matters depending on the region. Offering your users content that is more relatable to their needs gives your SaaS platform a significant competitive advantage and stronger credibility.