Most road maps for software development include a marketing plan that will expand the audience for the app, but few include a strategy for localization. Localization moves beyond simple translation, and results in an app that can be used seamlessly by a native speaker. It also expands the software’s audience by opening up markets in other locations. Though translators and developers often share a common goal, their processes can be at odds leading to a rocky localization process. We spoke with Antonio J Espinosa, chief operations officer of Transifex, to get an overview of localization from a company on the front lines of localization, and to get his suggestions on creating a smoother localization process for everyone.
Getting Started with Localization
Localization begins with translation. There are plenty of good translation tools out there, but many of them cannot deduce the meaning of homonyms or provide the syntax of a native speaker. "A successful localization project will result in a piece of software that is native to the location in both its language and operability,” said Espinosa.
There are three approaches to localization: manual, automated and hybrid. Manual localization means an actual team of people will localize the app. This process will produce a very accurate app, but can be slow and expensive. The automated process utilizes computer software to translate but it can be imprecise and will not fully reflect the native language. A hybrid solution, such as the one Transifex offers, incorporates the best of both manual and automated localization, which can provide accurate translations in less time.
Building Your Localization Strategy
“Ideally businesses and developers will integrate localization into the initial planning of the software, but localization can occur at any time with planning,” said Espinosa. According to the “Getting Stared with Localization” white paper by Transifex, a comprehensive localization strategy will incorporate the following characteristics: Transparency, seamless integration, efficiency, agility, security and privacy and intuition.
“A localized app should be both native to the market in which it’s introduced, and remain true to the original vision of the software itself. Developers and localization managers should provide oversight of the project. The localization system must remain nimble and react to requested changes quickly and efficiently.”
Continuous Localization with Transifex
Transifex is a continuous localization platform for the software industry. “It was built for developers by developers,” said Espinosa. When the founder of Tranisfex was a student in England, he wanted to localize his software, but found that the process was slow and inefficient. He then built an open source localization, which was very successful.
“The localization process must be made as painless as possible,” said Espinosa. “Developers want to continue moving forward and building and updating software. Localization can feel like a step back in the development process. Transifex makes localization easier for developers by integrating with the most prevalent file formats and it adapts to the production flows for each team.”
“Because the software industry has expanded to all corners of the globe, localization is a requirement,” said Espinosa. Planning for localization should happen early in the development process, but it can occur at any time. When creating a localization strategy and finding tools to manage the process, creating an app that appears native to the location and maintaining the original spirit of the app must be a priority. When done successfully, localization can expand a software’s reach and audience and lead to more sales and recognition of an app.