6 Software Localization Practices for Successful Launch in a Foreign Market

Thousands of dollars and man-hours have been spent researching, developing, strategizing, prototyping, testing, and tweaking the software, and it has successfully launched in the local market. Having assessed the potential returns on investment, your company is ready to transition to the global market.

Anyone who has ever tried to assemble a piece of furniture set up electronic equipment or read the label on an imported food product has encountered some of the issues that can arise when transitioning a product or service from one market to another. This can be attributed to persons having a different set of choices in different locations. When buying an electronic device from Europe, the plug will be different from buying the same product in America. 

With only one chance to make a first impression, now is not the time to lose focus and deceive yourself into believing that less effort will be required to successfully launch in new markets. 

What are the software localization practices to consider for launching your software in a foreign market?

1. Plan, perform and check all aspects of software localization Practices

Most companies unwittingly underestimate this area despite its focal importance to the success of the software launch. Rushing a new software to market is an inevitable path to failure. 

The same precision with scoping, scheduling, and testing applied to the native product should be applied to its localized version.

For better software localization practices, testing should be done at every stage of the process: 

  • Engineering the code.
  • Testing the UI.
  • Analyzing the language.
  • Checking the accuracy.
  • Assessing functionality and usability.

software localization practices

Additionally, visuals and layouts should be examined to ensure the software is “speaking” and “behaving” as intended with the localized market’s operating systems and applications. Non-textual materials like colors, logos, and images will be evaluated for linguistic, cultural, and ergonomic lapses.

It is worth emphasizing that this is one area in which companies cannot afford to fail. The damage to the brand can be insurmountable in the long run. Not to mention the cost of cleanup and the amount of time needed to start over leads up to definite ruination. 

When designing an optimal user experience, it is essential to get it right the first time around. The new market only gives you one opportunity to impress. If the software is not up to scratch, then that might be the end of your stint in the foreign market.

2. Maintaining consistent translation of terms across products and documentation

The software localization package usually includes the following components:

  • Resource bundles.
  • Installation manuals.
  • Online help content.
  • User forums.
  • Legal notices.
  • Warranties.
  • Privacy policies.
  • Any other files that the end-user may encounter to ensure a seamless user experience when using the product.

It would be confusing if a user consulted a help manual or warranty and found inconsistency in translation between a current document and a past translation. 

This is usually a result of poor terminology management during translation. 

Statistics show that inconsistencies in terminology is the number one reason that translations needed to be redone therefore delaying the release.

“Managing terminology improves consistency, and that means the quality of your product and the quality of your customers’ experience of your product. It can have an immediate impact on the success of your product or services in the marketplace.”

Uwe Muegge, Head of Terminology, Global Marketing at Facebook

The best software localization practices emphasize maintaining records of both the source and target languages. This way consistency is upheld throughout the various modules of software and its peripheral components. With properly managed terminology specific to your industry and organization during the translation process, time and cost are optimized by reusing the translation for subsequent releases and applying the same translation of terminology throughout all components of your software.

3. Being ready for technical layout production challenges 

We can all tell the difference between something written in our native language and something that has been “adapted” to our native language. Most often than not, the adaptation does not look right. 

When layouts are adjusted without engineering changes to their programming logic, it will lead to many unfortunate consequences during localization.

In localization, one size does not fit all. Many specifics should be taken into consideration during the localization process

“Placeholders” are often used in the programming process, but many languages such as German, for example, are made up of words much longer than those found in English. 

Some Asian languages may be written vertically, Hebrew and Arabic run from right to left, and Romance languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian tend to be wordier than English which leads to text expansion during translation. 

Concatenated strings and multiple context strings which work well in programming in English will simply not work for Russian with its complex grammatical structure. 

A feature of layout production beyond primary data is a complex functionality that also addresses language and country-specific formats for the dates, currencies, time, address, to name a few.

It is not enough to patch up your software along the way; internationalization must be carried out at the source ensuring further proper software localization practices. When done correctly, it will save you a lot of time, money, and frustration in a long run.

4. Legal obligations vary from country to country

Another consideration for good software localization practices is compliance with local laws, regulations, and standard business practices. Adherence to legal obligations in another country is a fundamental core that cannot be ignored.

Before launching your software, you must familiarize yourself with the laws and legal practices of the foreign market and make sure to comply with them when drafting your terms and conditions. 

For example, the Toubon Law in France guarantees citizens the right to conduct day-to-day French activities. It stipulates the use of French in advertisements, marketing collateral, and instructional documentation, both in hard copy and in software, screen display, sound messages, operating systems, and applications.

Organizations are expected to know their legal obligations and adhere to them. Failure to do so can have severe consequences.

5. Culture of the people in the foreign market

The world is not only multilingual but also multicultural. Many cultures differ significantly from the English-speaking world, and even English-speaking countries vary in their cultural specifics.

When developing software to be launched in foreign markets, do not assume that it will work there just because it does in Canada or the US. Because it will not! 

It is crucial for software localization practices to have a founded consideration of your target markets’ cultural attributes and religious diversity. This ensures not only the usability of your software in those markets but also its cultural relevance. 

For the successful launch of the software in the new market, it is important to conduct proper due diligence of that market, its culture, taboo topics, perception of colours, images, etc.

6. Marketing materials that build trust and confidence

For good software localization practices, all materials should be seamlessly localized. Users will have greater trust and confidence in a localized product, as they will see it as evidence of a business’ caring about the local consumer.

In North America, it is the norm to print letters, brochures, and other print materials on 8.5″x11″ paper. Europeans, on the other hand, use A4. By continuing to use the North American standard, a company immediately identifies itself as foreign and may not communicate the quality assurance they want to be associated with the brand.

Colours, fonts, graphics, images, and text placement need to be evaluated to suit linguistic, cultural, and societal customs. Cultural knowledge and sensitivity are insufficient for reaching a foreign audience if a product’s message is misunderstood, misleading, irreverent, or inappropriate.

Even companies with large departments dedicated to this type of research have found themselves embarrassed when their product is launched. In Africa, Gerber baby food jars landed on the shelf with their standard packaging, “the Gerber baby” beaming out to consumers. 

What their research had not uncovered was that it was common practice in less literate parts of Africa to use pictures on labels to indicate what is contained inside—in this case, babies. No matter how big the department is or how much a local culture is studied, there is no substitute for in-country familiarity and personal experience with local customs. 

Bringing new software to a foreign market is a complex and multi-faceted process. 

Partnering with an expert localization provider with proven software localization practices in place simplifies planning that journey and keeps things on track. Entrusting localization tasks to professionals makes all the difference in successful software localization. 

We would love to be that partner and help you successfully launch your software in foreign markets.

Art One Translations ensures that proper software localization practices are in place, it maximizes and leverages the latest tools, standards, and practices in combination with intelligent effort and skillful execution in bringing together a team of localization experts who speak to customers on a deeper level. 

With our proven methodology and a three-step quality assurance process, we guarantee accuracy and consistency. Using the latest Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, we create Translation Memories, glossaries, and style guides that help get a product to market on time and on budget.

Remember, there is only one chance to make a first impression. 

Contact us today to have our expert team help you with software localization.


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