All You Need to Know About Software Localization

Posted by
Elmira in ClickHelp Features on 9/15/20216 min read

people communicating smiling

It is a well-known fact that English is the dominant language on a stage of global e-commerce, but this is not the case when one size fits all. It can be challenging for a company to launch its product or service to an international market dominated by local competitors. So software localization can help to crack this problem. This is a key to shaping a genuine customer experience and establishing the credibility of a brand that will really speak to the language and culture of your target market.

What is Software Localization?

Software localization (often abbreviated as L10n) is the process of adapting a product from a source language into a country-specific language, culture, and legal requirements. Software localization ensures the expansion of your product around the world. A properly localized product looks and feels like it was developed for the user in a specific region.

Does Your Company Need Localization?

The age of globalization opened business opportunities to a lot of start-ups. Such companies realize the importance of localization to reach a variety of markets. Enterprises that don’t keep up to their target customers' linguistic and cultural norms risk losing their trust. Concentrating only on English-speaking markets denies the opportunity to profit from a significant part of the world’s market.

There are approximately 7.6 billion people worldwide, 75% of which do not speak English at all.

Only about 380 million people have English as their native language. Moreover, most of the world’s English-speaking population is more comfortable working with other languages. And if your target market is bilingual, some may be more comfortable with one language over the other.

For instance, it is necessary to translate your website to Spanish in the US because more than 13% of the US population speaks Spanish.

Localization is essential not only for large companies but for businesses of all sizes. Here are the reasons why software localization is vital for international companies:

  • Customer satisfaction. Localization ensures your customers appreciate your product and share their experiences with others. If your software is accessible to different communities, you’ll see more benefits.
  • Customer base increase. Proficient localization helps remove the block for new potential customers, as localized products better fit local market conditions and lower cultural barriers.
  • Reach new frontiers. The localization process can speed up the time it takes to enter new markets as localized products help overcome cultural barriers. But before engaging in a localization effort, identify the most promising markets for your product.
  • Brand awareness. Brand awareness is complicated without localization. Strong brand awareness means you spend less on advertising costs, making your product attractive to potential customers and investors.

person with laptop another with iphone

Software Localization Best Practices

Localization means working with many people from different cultural backgrounds and time zones, making software localization management a hard task. Don’t assume you can start the process the moment your software enters the market. Here are the Top 9 software localization best practices:

  1. Plan and research. Schedule sufficient time for the localization process during the software development stage to avoid a last-minute rush.
  2. Keep in mind localization when designing. Develop a localization-friendly design from the start. Your design should feature source code and structure that helps prevent common localization and translation errors.
  3. Remember about text expansion. Different languages take up different amounts of space on a page. So, you should always assume that text will grow or shrink - plan for 30% text expansion at a minimum.
  4. Use images and symbols prudently. Not all symbols are universal or neutral. For example, in the US, the waving hand emoji is a way to say hello. But in Mainland China, that symbol means breaking off a friendship — the opposite of what you are intending! You’ll want to make sure the images you’re choosing to include are inclusive and appropriate for each of your target markets.
  5. Test your software’s localizability. Localizability testing technique called pseudo-localization. It replaces localizable text with automatically generated “dummy” translations. This helps to reveal potential problems before you invest in translation services.
  6. Ask an expert. Your localization service provider should be local so that he/she could provide you with insights that will save you time, money, and rework. Reach out with questions early in the process to ensure your development is localization-ready.
  7. Create a style guide. Creating a style guide and maintaining a glossary will allow your linguists to work fast while maintaining quality. Make sure to include branding, tone, audience information, and grammar.
  8. Apply single-sourcing for localization. It’s crucial to ensure that you can deliver content for multiple languages without losing the efficiency that single-sourcing enables. In this article, we wrote about single-sourced content localization.
  9. Use a software localization tool. Using a software localization tool or translation management system (TMS) can help you easily implement some of the important guidelines in this list.

Software Localization Tools and Services

First, let’s find out what a translation management system (TMS) is and what it can do for you.

  • Workflow automation tools
  • Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools
  • Project/team management and reporting

Basically, localization tools help translators work faster and achieve greater consistency in their projects. It’s important to deliver excellent results in the best possible timeframe. That’s what the right localization tool can help to deliver. Some help authoring tools can also add to the localization process.

In this paragraph, we gathered the best localization tools according to different ratings:

  • Transifex. This is a SaaS-based translation and localization platform that offers one solution for websites and another for apps and other digital content. It’s fully featured, delivering an agile, effective localization process. A free 15-day trial can help you decide whether Transifex is for you.
  • Lokalise. The translation management system with a 14-day trial is targeted at agile teams looking to embrace automation, workflow transparency, and fast project delivery. Key features include collaborative translation, localization workflow management, localization process automation, translation quality assurance, in-context editing, delivery to end-users, support ticket translation, and, of course, translation services.
  • Smartcat. This localization tool is simple yet powerful, combining translation automation technologies with communication capabilities. This is a free-to-use tool, so ideal for those on a budget!
  • Phrase. Has a very user-friendly interface. Its API has been designed to fit all software localization processes, delivering maximum flexibility for localization teams and streamlined working. And you can also try it for free for two weeks.
  • POEditor. This flexible platform allows you to work on games, themes, apps, websites, and more, either individually or through a collaborative team approach. It integrates with everything from GitHub and Azure DevOps to Slack and offers a range of translation options. Use a free trial to test your desired localization workflow.
  • MemoQ. Fully-fledged localization platform, including a slick translation management system that is easy to tailor to your individual needs in order to streamline the translation and localization process.
  • LingoHub. A translation management software that helps to create texts and translation projects in one place. The intelligent system detects all text changes made in the project, makes sure translation is up to your personalized quality checks and takes care of all technical issues. Free trial is also 14-days long.
  • EasyTranslate. Capability to integrate with your website design makes the process of executing updates across languages much easier with this app. There is a diverse range of languages and a choice of translators available.
  • Localazy. Is a localization automation platform built for all digital product makers. The interface is clear and clean, messages are easy to understand. It only charges you by the words you are using, not a subscription.

international business сoncept


It is doubtful that every person on Earth will be able to master English anytime soon. For this reason, software localization will remain a necessary tool in the fast-paced changes. By taking into account the preferences of a specific locale, translators can help in-demand software reach such options where they can use it without worry. Technical writers also play their role in the process of localization. There’s much to look forward to as the tools become smarter, easier to use, and more available.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices


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