Software Localization

What is Software Localization (L10n)?

Software localization is the process of adapting software applications or products to make them linguistically and culturally suitable for a specific target market or locale.
Software localization goes beyond mere translation of text and involves translating and adapting the user interface, content, and functionality to cater to the linguistic, cultural, and technical requirements of the target audience.

The main components of software localization

Software localization – focuses adapting the following elements of user experience within an app or website.

User Interface (UI) Translation: The translation of user interface elements such as menus, buttons, labels, dialogue boxes, and error messages into the target language. This ensures that users can interact with the software in their preferred language.

Content: The translation of textual content within the software, including help files, documentation, tutorials, and other textual resources. Adapting content to the target language so users understand the software’s features, functionality, and usage is essential for acquiring and retaining customers.

Large language models are increasingly used for localization, though not without human post-editing.

Date, Time & Number Formats: Localization includes adapting date, time, and number formats to align with the conventions and preferences of the target locale. This will involve modifying the order of date elements, selecting appropriate separators, and adjusting numeric representations according to regional norms.

Currency & Units: Software localization ensures that monetary values and measurements are displayed in a way that is familiar and relevant to the local audience. The process requires converting currency symbols, formats, and units of measurement to match the target market. 

Cultural Adaptation: A key aspect of L10n is adapting the software to the cultural nuances and sensitivities of the target market. This may involve modifying images, colors, icons, and graphical elements to align with local customs, traditions, and visual preferences.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Software localization extends to ensuring compliance with relevant legal and regulatory requirements of the target market, designed to protect the end user. 

This includes adhering to privacy laws, data protection regulations, labelling requirements, and any other applicable laws governing software usage in the relevant region.

Three examples of software localization

In a global market, software providers that don’t localize their products are leaving money on the table, which is why leading software brands prioritise L10n. 

Here are three examples of tech companies that have successfully embraced software localization:

Adobe Creative Cloud: Adobe offers its Creative Cloud suite, including applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, in multiple languages with localized versions. This allows users worldwide to access and utilize the software in their preferred languages without any loss of experience or functionality.

WordPress: It is estimated that 43% of all websites are built using WordPress, in part because the popular content management system provides localization support. WordPress enables users to create websites and manage content in their local languages, offering a wide range of free language packs and translation plugins.

Video Games: Many video game developers localize their games to reach a global audience. For example, popular game titles like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Final Fantasy” series have been localized into multiple languages, including UI elements, dialogues, and subtitles. More recently, Roblox introduced live in-game chat translation in 16 languages.

Lingoport has helped numerous major software companies, like Upwork, Snap and Workday, improve their software localization.

“Globalyzer has been at the core of our success and has helped us not only with i18n refactoring but also provided the visibility we needed to manage the i18n project at the company level.” Upwork describing working with Lingoport 

Learn more about Lingport software localization success stories

Software localization vs software internationalization

To maximize localization (L10n), it’s essential to also focus on internal processes affecting the code. While these processes are invisible to the user, they are crucial for ensuring an optimal experience. This specific task of preparing code for localization is called software internationalization (i18n)

Software internationalization is the process of designing and developing software in a way that enables easy adaptation and localization for different languages, regions, and cultures. 

i18n involves making the software flexible and adaptable to handle various language-related aspects, including text rendering, character encoding, date and time formats, numeric formats, currency symbols, and other cultural conventions.

➡️Learn how Lingoport’s Globalyzer and Localyzer can help with software localization. Book a call with our i18n experts. 

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