GTE Localize

Top 10 Software Localization Best Practices

Posted by Chloe G. on April 20, 2023.

Adopting software localization best practices is essential for businesses expanding into new markets.

Software localization is the process of adapting software products and applications to meet the language, culture, and other specific requirements of a particular market. Localizing software can help businesses reach new audiences, improve customer satisfaction, and increase sales revenue. However, localizing software can be a complex process that requires a systematic approach to ensure its effectiveness. 

In this article, we will explore the top 10 software localization best practices that businesses can follow to successfully localize your software products for a global audience.

#1. Analyze the situation and plan ahead


Analyzing the situation and planning ahead is a critical step in the software localization process. This involves evaluating the target market, its cultural nuances, and linguistic requirements. By understanding cultural differences, businesses can ensure that the localized software meets the expectations of the target audience. It is also crucial to set specific goals for the localization process, such as the desired level of language proficiency, cultural adaptation, or user experience. This can help businesses track progress and ensure that the localization process meets their expectations.

Involving localization experts in the planning phase is essential to ensure that the localization strategy aligns with the market requirements. These experts can provide insights into cultural and linguistic differences, best practices, and potential challenges that may arise during the localization process. They can also help develop a localization plan that is cost-effective, efficient, and delivers the desired results. Otherwise, the best to do list app also can be one of the helpful assisted apps to help you manage everything in order. 

A well-planned localization strategy can help businesses save time and resources in the long run. By analyzing the situation and planning ahead, businesses can ensure that their localized software meets the needs of their target audience, increasing customer satisfaction, and ultimately driving revenue growth.


#2. Software localization best practices: Externalize all translatable content

To ensure a successful software localization process, businesses must externalize all translatable content from the software’s source code. This means separating the user interface (UI) and user assistance (UA) content from the software’s code and storing it in separate files.

Externalizing the translatable content makes it easier to manage the localization process by facilitating the translation and update of the localized content without affecting the software’s source code. It also enables developers to focus on the software’s functionality while localization experts work on the localized content.

Moreover, externalizing the translatable content also makes it easier to reuse the translated content in future updates or different software products, thus increasing efficiency and consistency across products. It is also essential to ensure that the localization files support the required character encoding and language-specific formatting.


#3. Invest in a style guide and glossary


Investing in a style guide and glossary is one of the key software localization best practices, which helps maintain consistency in the software’s language and terminology across all localized versions. A style guide provides guidelines on grammar, tone, and style to ensure that the software’s language and tone resonate with the target audience.

A glossary, on the other hand, lists the technical terms and their translations, ensuring that the software’s terminology is consistent across all languages. Both a style guide and a glossary help improve the accuracy of the localized software, ultimately leading to a better customer experience.

Having a well-defined style guide and glossary can also reduce the localization process’s overall cost and turnaround time. Localization experts can reference the style guide and glossary during the translation process, resulting in faster translation times and reducing the need for additional quality assurance checks.


#4. Software localization best practices: Understand translation tools

Understanding the translation tools available is critical for streamlining the localization process and improving the quality of the localized software. Translation tools such as Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, Translation Memory (TM), and Terminology Management Systems (TMS) can significantly improve the translation process’s efficiency and consistency.

CAT tools, for example, can automate repetitive translation tasks, such as sentence structure and grammar, increasing the speed of the translation process. TMs store previously translated content, enabling businesses to reuse and leverage the content, reducing costs and increasing consistency.

TMS, on the other hand, enables businesses to manage terminology across multiple languages, ensuring consistent terminology usage throughout the localization process. By understanding the translation tools available, businesses can select the most appropriate tools for their localization needs and improve the efficiency of the localization process.


#5. Provide room for text expansion


When localizing software, it is essential to consider that some languages may require more space to convey the same message. For example, the same sentence in English may be shorter than the equivalent sentence in German or French. Let’s consider the English sentence “Welcome to our website!” which consists of only 3 words. However, in German, the equivalent translation is “Willkommen auf unserer Webseite!”, which has 5 words. This means that the German translation of the sentence is longer than the original English sentence. If the software’s user interface is not designed with text expansion in mind, the German translation may overlap or truncate, resulting in a poor user experience. Therefore, it is crucial to provide room for text expansion in the software’s user interface.

To ensure that the user interface accommodates different language lengths, businesses should design the interface with text expansion in mind. This means allowing for more space in the user interface elements such as buttons, menus, and dialogue boxes.

By providing enough space for text expansion, businesses can ensure that the localized software maintains its functionality and usability. It also ensures that the localized software looks professional and avoids any user confusion resulting from text overlap or truncation.


#6. Software localization best practices: Use Unicode/UTF-8 encoding of strings

Unicode and UTF-8 are standards for encoding characters in software, and they are crucial for successful software localization. These encoding standards allow the software to display text in different languages and scripts accurately.

By using Unicode/UTF-8 encoding, businesses can support various languages without requiring separate software versions for each language. This approach makes the software more accessible to users from different regions.

Additionally, Unicode/UTF-8 encoding is compatible with most operating systems, browsers, and devices, making it easier to develop and deploy localized software across different platforms.


#7. Avoid concatenation and overuse of single strings


Concatenation is the process of joining two or more strings to form a single string. While concatenation may be useful for displaying a simple message, it can cause problems during software localization.

When localizing software, it is best to avoid concatenation wherever possible. Concatenated strings can result in text overlap or truncation, making it difficult for users to understand the text.

Similarly, overusing a single string in different contexts can also create problems during localization. The same string may have different translations in different contexts, and using a single string for multiple purposes can result in incorrect translations and confusing user interface elements.

To avoid these issues, businesses should design the software’s user interface to avoid concatenation where possible and use unique strings for each context. This approach ensures that the localized software looks professional and functions correctly, improving the user experience.


#8. Software localization best practices: Internationalize dates/ numbers, etc.

In software, dates, times, numbers, and other non-textual elements are critical components that users rely on to understand and interact with the software. However, the way these elements are formatted and displayed can vary between different regions and cultures.

To ensure that the localized software is accurate and easy to use, businesses should internationalize these elements. Internationalization involves separating these elements from the software’s code and making them customizable for different regions and cultures.

For example, in the United States, dates are typically formatted as month/day/year, while in Europe, they are formatted as day/month/year. By internationalizing the software, businesses can allow users to choose their preferred date format, making the software more accessible and user-friendly.

Similarly, numbers, currencies, and other non-textual elements can also vary between regions and cultures. By internationalizing these elements, businesses can ensure that the localized software is accurate and easy to use for its target audience.


#9. Localize help (UA) and software (UI) at the same time


When localizing software, it is important to localize both the user interface (UI) and help content (UA) simultaneously. The UI is the visual aspect of the software, while the UA is the documentation or support material that accompanies the software.

By localizing the UI and UA at the same time, businesses can ensure that the localized software is consistent and provides a seamless user experience. This approach also allows businesses to catch any discrepancies or errors between the UI and UA during the localization process, reducing the risk of confusion or frustration for the user.

Furthermore, localizing the UA alongside the UI ensures that users have access to support and documentation in their preferred language. This can improve user satisfaction and reduce the need for customer support, ultimately reducing costs and improving efficiency.


#10. Software localization best practices: Test your software

Testing is a crucial step in the software localization process. Once the software has been localized, it is essential to test it thoroughly to ensure that it functions correctly and is free of errors or issues.

During testing, businesses should pay close attention to the localized content, including the UI, UA, and non-textual elements such as dates and numbers. They should also test the software in the target language and culture to ensure that it works seamlessly for its intended audience.

Businesses can conduct testing in-house or outsource it to a professional localization testing service. This step can help catch any issues that may have been missed during the localization process, improving the overall quality of the localized software.


Work with a comprehensive software translation provider

Working with a professional software translation services provider is among the highly-recommended software localization best practices to ensure accurate and efficient localization. A comprehensive software translation provider will have the expertise and resources to handle all aspects of the localization process, from content translation to software engineering and testing.

A good software translation services provider will also have experience in localization project management and can provide guidance on best practices and potential issues during the process. They can help businesses navigate the complexities of software localization and ensure that the final product meets the highest quality standards.

Furthermore, working with a comprehensive software translation provider can help businesses save time and money in the long run by streamlining the localization process and avoiding costly errors or delays.

When looking for a reliable provider for your software localization needs, GTE Localize, one of the best translation agencies on GoodFirms, should be a top consideration. 


Here are some of the reasons why GTE Localize is a great choice:

  • 100% Native Translators: With a team of over 1200 experienced and certified native translators from various industries, we offer high-quality software localization services.
  • Lifetime Warranty Policy: This lifetime warranty policy, made possible by our team’s expertise and the latest technology in the localization industry, guarantees the quality of all localized content. 
  • Cost-effective Services: By utilizing technology like Translation Memory and CAT tools, we smooth out our work processes and reduce costs for clients.
  • No hidden fee: All fees are clearly stated upfront, with no hidden charges added later. 

Contact us today for a free consultation, a 300-word test, and a quote for your software localization project. 

If you are interested in SME localization strategies, you can download our white paper for more information.