There are very few businesses, if any, that don’t rely on software of one form or another. If you create a software product and you’re thinking of moving into a new market, you should localize your product.
If there’s a barrier to localization for some reason, then at the very least, it needs to be translated.
Software translation comes with its own challenges because there is a mix of technical language behind the scenes and media-rich content on the front end that needs to appeal to your customers.
At LinguaLinx, as a Language Services Provider (LSP), we know that, ultimately, your customers need to feel like your software was created directly for them. We also know that nailing this can seem like a difficult task. But it doesn’t have to be.
Let’s take a look at the top things you need to consider when translating your software from one language to another.
Consider Your Tech Stack And Get The Plan Right
Looking at the workflow and considering the other programs that your software will interact with will save you headaches and costs down the line. Look at how the translated software will be affected, or will affect, the other digital tools and platforms it will be in an ecosystem with.
Will the translation be dependent on other third-party software? Do these need to be translated? Is the tech stack likely to change? Are you relying on different tech in different countries? Suppose your shop window or comms are through Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp and you're heading into China. In that case, you're going to need to do a rethink.
These are all questions just to get the ball rolling during planning and definitely need to be addressed before any translation occurs.
What Forms Of Content Make Up Your Software?
Software covers the full range of media. It houses and acts as the delivery mechanism for everything that you use to run your systems and communicate with employees, partners, and customers.
Depending on the software's complexity, your LSP is going to have to draw on a wide range of resources to address every form of media. Here are the main ones:
What is the market you’re going into? Is your training for a Muslim region where you’d have to make sure that any imagery within the software is appropriate to their customs on showing skin? Even if it’s not this cultural inappropriateness, the more your imagery reflects the world of the user, the more you’re demonstrating that your brand cares about their culture.
Video will need to be adapted to the new language. Is it best to use sub-titles, voice over, redub the lines with actors that speak in the target language or reshoot the content completely? There’s pros and cons for each method.
Broadly put, reshooting is expensive (but shows you care and could be most accurate) and sub-titles can be done fairly inexpensively (but if your work force has literacy difficulties the message could be ineffective).
Faces the same challenges as video. Do you use voice over, redub lines or recreate everything from scratch?
Each of the options has a different price tag which could well determine the route forward.
Design and User Interface (UI)
How is the UI going to be affected by the new language? Are you moving from English to Korean, Japanese or a Chinese language? These are read vertically and require redesigning the UI to accommodate it. The same goes for languages that read right to left like Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi or Urdu.
Who’s Doing The Translation?
Who are the linguists working on the project? What’s their background? It’s a bona fide question that you should ask any LSP you work with. Of course, they have to know the source and target languages, but they should also have experience in your industry. And, it goes without saying, that the translators working on your project should know about software translation.
Software, like most industries, has its own demi-language which is rife with jargon. And jargon rarely translates well verbatim. After all, when you’re talking about debugging, cookies and the cloud in software, it’s unlikely you’ll want the translation being about pest control, baking and the weather.
Go Deeper, Maximize Engagement And Localize
We touched on it at the beginning - wherever and whenever possible, you should be looking to go past translation and localize your content. What’s the difference? Translation is accurately taking something from English into Portuguese to get traction in Brazil.
Localization is taking something from English into Brasiliense, a local dialect spoken in the capital of Brasilia (where you’re really targeting), and even making sure all images, audio and video in your software are authentic to the man-made city.
Simply put, localization is all about the detail in understanding the country, community and culture you’re heading into.
Think Ahead - Prepare For Multiple Languages
As an LSP, we’re not just a translation company for our clients, we’re a business partner. It’s our job to deal with the present and keep an eye on the future. Software translation can take a considerable investment, so if any costs can be offset against a wider roll out, then we’re here to flag them up.
Work with your LSP to look at your short, medium and long-term goals. With software, it may be that there are assets that are developed, or processes put in place, in an initial project that will help with future translation needs.
Take It Step By Step
Software is built through developing computer-based programs one step at a time. By testing them, fixing issues and re-testing. It’s a methodical process and translating your software products shouldn’t be any different. Successful translation or localization comes with knowing your audience, understanding how tech will influence your decisions and people will interact with the end results.
With an eye on the future and the right LSP partner to lead you through the process, you’ll have no problem adapting your products to new markets through new languages.
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At LinguaLinx, we ensure your message remains intact across languages. Rest easy knowing we're both ISO 17100 and ISO 9001 certified, bring two decades of expert translation to the table, and are a trusted partner to global organizations.
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