If the only thing you do toward making your software accessible to customers who speak another language is run your text through Google Translate or some budget translation service, you are missing one of the best opportunities to grab market share.
All too often, software development teams make the mistake of thinking text translation is all they need to do to make their package useful in other countries. Far from it. Localization is the key to making your product stand out from the competition missing this step.
Localization is about much more than text translation.
- Sure, your basic readable text must be translated, but also consider button labels, filenames, and other places words are seen. This is just the beginning.
- Text must also conform to local grammar standards. No doubt you have seen obvious errors in this regard when apps and websites are translated into English.
Sometimes the lack of clarity is so glaring as to make the product unusable, especially when it comes to support or documentation. Would you want that to be said of your software by someone abroad?
Differences in currency is another obvious change to be considered for localization accuracy.
Other changes include:
- Measurement standards, such as metric conversions
- Text input string or button text length, for instances where certain languages use longer words (e.g. Russian or German)
- Number standards, such as comma versus decimal usage
- Accented letters in words and names
- Alignment and layout for right-to-left languages (e.g. Hebrew and Arabic)
- Shortcut and hotkey changes for different keyboard layouts
There are many other localization considerations, all of which vary between languages and cultures. This is not something to be left to simple translation services. Just as it is in the U.S., make sure your product is as easily usable in every place you intend to make it available.