Despite localization playing a more prominent role in software development planning, software localization sometimes is postponed as other project considerations are prioritized. This period can be a great time to gather the information and project files that are needed when ready to begin in earnest.
With over 35 years of experience in software localization services and helping customers bring products to market, this scenario is nothing new to SimulTrans. While we appreciate that other tasks must sometimes come first, we also know that these delays do not necessarily have to stall your translation efforts.
Now, here are ten actions that our clients have found most effective while waiting for the green light to start their software localization project:
1. Select Languages for Translation
Review which countries your company is targeting and create a list of the most commonly spoken languages in those areas. Use this information to determine which languages you should prioritize for translation.
Be sure to verify whether multiple countries with the same language needs have additional localization needs. For instance, a Spanish translation meant for users from Spain cannot also be used to accommodate users in Latin America. Although both groups speak Spanish, there are significant differences in their vocabulary and expressions that must be accounted for in any professionally translated text.
2. Identify Key Terminology
Start by gathering a list of key terminology and words that should not be translated. Then, use this information to create an Excel file to import into a Translation Management System. This list will facilitate the translator's work and ensure that key terms remain in their original form in the translated text.
3. Record a Product Demo
Record a short product demo for translators before localization begins. If you already have a demo available, you can use that clip instead. This product overview will help translators better understand what they are translating, especially when they are working with documentation for complex products or out-of-context software strings. The additional context will improve translation quality and reduce the number of questions you will receive from your translation partner.
4. Gather Assets for Localization
Determine which files need localization and which do not. Then, gather copies of the ones that do into a folder for easy reference later on.
During this process, check-in with your stakeholders to see if they have any localization priorities they would like you to focus on. For instance, your product manager might need your software translated first, but your marketing manager might need some microsites translated quickly to gauge product interest in other markets. Knowing which assets need to be translated first will help you communicate this information to your translation partner.
5. Test File Formats
Run a test to ensure you can export localization-ready files and import translated files back into your system. Most translations are done using files in the XLIFF format (XML Localization Interchange File Format). Determine in advance the amount of engineering effort required to fix any localization-specific issues by doing a free pseudo translation. This is a localization technique that can help you spot a host of potential problems on your user interface localization files before you decide to start localizing your product
6. Plan Translation Reviews
If you would like the translated product or website to be reviewed internally by some of your colleagues, confirm this with your project manager early on, so this review phase can be built into the project schedule from the start. Also, ensure that the team members who will be reviewing the project are available at the scheduled time and can complete their review in the assigned time frame. This will help you avoid preventable delays during this phase.
7. Create Standards for Feedback
Settle on one uniform method of reviewing and collecting translation feedback from your team. Select just one reviewer per language or product to avoid conflicting instructions. Avoid handwritten corrections, as these are inefficient and extremely time-consuming to implement.
8. Save Sample Data
Save any sample data used to create screen captures for your product documentation. When testing a product, localization engineers will use this data to recreate the same screen captures in the localized versions of the software. Reusing data this way will save time and speed up this project phase.
9. Provide Fonts, Logos, Trademarks, & Part Numbers
Gather specific company fonts (typefaces), product trademarks, company logos, and any other symbols used throughout your content. These symbols will be used in the localized versions of your content. If your translated product must include a unique part number for each localized version, start creating these ahead of time as well. Provide these elements to your translation partner in advance to speed up your project's completion.
10. Keep Localization on Track
Above all, ensure that your company's C-suite maintains continued buy-in for your localization project. Verify that the project still appears on all business plans, especially in budgets. If it has disappeared, you may need to raise the issue and remind your senior executives why the project is so important.
By preparing while you wait, you should be able to get your localization project off to a fast start when you finally receive permission to begin work. This will help your product make a swift debut in international markets and drive it toward global success.