5 Crucial Planning Steps for Product Globalization
Startups are in the unique position to plan for localization early so it can work hand-in-hand with product development for the best all-around results.
They’ve already got a great product to take to global audiences. They haven’t established an in-house localization process that’s sapping their resources. And they have the funding to invest in whichever solution is best. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place to learn more.
But before you start evaluating localization tools, we recommend taking a moment to review the foundational elements that make sleek globalization possible:
1. Pause to consider all the global implications.
Successful localization begins with big-picture thinking. Before you start talking about tools and integrations and translators, you need to take three steps back and consider all the implications of going global with your product. Take this opportunity to ask questions like:
- How effective will our product be in the global marketplace?
- What are the inherent logistical challenges our product will face in other locales?
- Which support systems are necessary for our product to function internationally?
- How can we optimize the reception of our product in other markets?
You’ve spent how long now so completely focused on your product? Strategizing beyond the product itself can be a challenge when you’re so deep in it. But by thinking critically about the broader issues of globalization, you can bring even more value to your startup by building a solid localization strategy. In the long run, your product will absolutely benefit from this wider view.
2. Get your engineers on board with internationalization.
Next, you need to make sure your product can function internationally from a technical perspective. Many companies design software systems and mobile and web applications with future localization in mind—but not all of them do. Some products will require extensive retrofitting in order to function internationally.
Take the time now to figure out if it’s feasible to create localized versions of your software. Do you have all content extracted to a resource file that can be easily translated? Has your team tested the UI in languages that will increase string length? Have you ensured that your app can toggle between LTR and RTL depending on the localized version? Are you ready to support locale-specific data formats for contact information? Do you know how your international users expect to pay? If not, this is your opportunity to figure out how much it will cost (and how long it will take) to make necessary adjustments before going any further. Better yet, if you’re still in the design phase, you’re in the very best position to be thinking about localization proactively.
3. Budget carefully for ongoing localization.
Well-funded startups sometimes forget to consider expenses before embarking on large-scale localization. This mindset can be dangerous because hyperlocalization can be so tempting. An eager startup could easily sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into translation costs for too many international markets too fast. It isn’t always necessary.
When you set a reasonable budget, you’ll realize that it’s not worth the cost (or the time) to localize everywhere all at once. For example, you don’t necessarily need a fully localized version of your app in both Austrian German and Swiss German when a version in standard German will do. Or you might not need to translate every aspect of the content into all your target languages. A simple overlay tutorial in Italian might be enough for users to understand and use your English app interface.
Avoiding hyperlocalization with a careful strategy can help to control costs and position your product for a higher return on your investment. Eventually, you can expand further with a step-by-step approach that prioritizes the most rewarding markets.
4. Consult the data before deciding on a strategy.
We know how much you love your product. It’s easy to imagine that users all around the globe will love it as much as you do. But the truth is that there are probably some locales in which your product will thrive more than in others. When you can identify those successful target markets, you want to prioritize them. Don’t throw your money around on the rest just yet.
The easiest way to identify your localization sweet spots is to examine existing data. Market research is the name of the game. We encourage our clients to take a deep dive into their Google Analytics or their app store data to see where they’re already getting the highest traffic and downloads in international markets. Plan to localize in these select areas first. Then use A/B testing to selectively localize elsewhere and judge carefully whether those efforts were worth the spend before you line up even more markets.
5. Identify the best localization tool for your startup.
Now it’s time to choose a content localization management system—one of the best product globalization solutions you could employ. Unfortunately, choosing a localization partner involves taking a big leap of faith. There’s really no way to test their process until you bite the bullet and sign a contract. You need to know who you can trust, who’s going to care about your product almost as much as you do.
When evaluating localization services, don’t just choose the company with the flashiest marketing or the most Google ads. Instead, ask important questions about what their localization platform can do, where they source their translations, and how their pricing structure works.
Important note: You should be very wary of any technology vendor who charges you based on the volume of work you’re doing in their system. Translation itself is a word-by-word cost—but your use of a software platform should not be. Some very prominent players in the localization industry are trying to take advantage of startups with false expectations and predatory pricing mechanisms. A trustworthy localization partner will operate honestly, without hidden fees, and help you achieve a high ROI by streamlining your localization needs.
Investing in the Best Product Globalization Solutions
It’s time to shatter the status quo of the localization industry. A fully-automated localization platform involves all the custom integrations you need, and a good company isn’t going to overwhelm you (or distract you) with tech you don’t need. Instead, you can expect to be guided through the strategizing, implementation, and maintenance phases of ongoing localization with a consistent focus on streamlining costs and achieving a high ROI.
Localization doesn’t have to be a distraction from product management. When you hire the right localization firm, you can relax knowing you’ve partnered with a team that can automate localization, control quality, and advise you as to the best way to reach your globalization goals.
Bureau Works is a localization platform with powerful back-end services that lets you sit back and focus on product development instead of localization management. We’re changing the localization game with one of the best product globalization solutions on the market. Contact our team today to make your dream of automated continuous localization a reality.
Written by Henrique Cabral
Henrique is a partner at Bureau Works as well as the CTO. He also speaks code and loves racing cars.