Coding can be a lonely job. You’re up late trying to find that bug that will surely make or break your software. You sacrifice sleep and who knows what else because you know your work will catapult your product onto the most downloaded lists. Most companies have that hyper focus on creating excellent, solid software, but still so many of these startups never make it much past the initial launch, let alone onto the devices of the millions of people all over the world who use apps. So what makes some startups succeed and join the ranks of the elite, global software companies, while others simply fizzle out?
“Global success won’t happen without localization, but successful localization depends on a company operating globally,” said Antonio J Espinosa, chief operating officer at Transifex. Many successful startups not only build great software but they also meet and exceed both potential customer and industry expectations, which provides a solid foundation to building a global company using a comprehensive localization strategy.
Giving Your Customers What They Want
You build software that you believe your customers want. The only way to confirm your hunch is to release the software, but customers have been very clear about what they want from all software. Consider these four customers:
- A simple user experience
Software is built by highly technological people, but the people who use it are often at the other end of the tech-savvy spectrum. The app’s design and usability should be built not with other developers in mind, but with the comfort level of the audience in mind.
- The clear solution to a clear problem
State the problem that your software is solving and the ways in which the software is solving it. Remove marketing and developer jargon and use the language your customers are using. As we said, your customers are less tech savvy than developers and they are also wary of marketing double-speak. Use concrete language to describe your software.
- Plenty of promotion
If your potential customers are not tech savvy, chances are they aren’t keeping track of the latest apps in the industry media. Make sure your promotion extends to the media that your customers are using, not just the sources you read. Your customers should be able to find you as well. Be sure to include strategic SEO keywords on your website, and in the app descriptions in the marketplace.
- Availability across devices
Customers are more mobile than ever, so your software (and website) should be available on mobile devices and on desktops. Customers expect that their data is saved in the cloud so their work and information is saved and is accessible no matter what device they’re using.
Meeting Industry Expectations
Startups are known for their culture of nonconformity, but conforming to industry standards and expectations can provide a solid foundation for success. When creating your software, be aware of these industry expectations:
- Understand intellectual property protections
In the past, intellectual property covered just the inner workings of a piece of software. Now intellectual property might cover design and branding as well. Seek legal advice on your intellectual property and make sure your software is protected and not infringing on other companies.
- Bake analytics in
Analytics are a key component in most any software offered, especially software geared toward the enterprise. The analytics should provide real-time data that can be easily analyzed for possible solutions.
- Nimble response to feedback
Feedback comes in from all sides at all hours thanks to social media. A successful software company responds to feedback and improvises solutions quickly. Tracking where your feedback comes from can provide insight into which regions would be smart for a localized product.
- Internationalize from the beginning
When a piece of software is internationalized from the beginning, the process of localization becomes more efficient. Start with internationalization with an eye toward localization when building your initial software.
“A localized software must be supported by a flexible, responsive company. Customers in localized markets expect that they are just as important as the customers in the company’s original geo. It requires a commitment and meeting standards set by the industry and by users,” said Espinosa.
Going global depends on an efficient localization strategy, but a company must have a solid foundation. Looking to customers and the software industry can provide solid guidelines for global companies.