Product localization is what prepares your offering to enter a new market in a different language. We mostly see it in connection with apps or software, but really, it can be anything at all. Even non-software projects will require support in the form of user manuals, customer service platforms, and educational materials.
Product localization is unique because it requires a continuous process. Most programs will be updated hundreds of times per year or month–this is not something that a manual translation strategy can support. However, it’s possible to establish an automatic translation program with the right tools and platform.
A Brief Introduction to Product Localization Strategy
A product localization strategy is the process you follow to get your product ready for new markets. Most people approach it very simply in the beginning–they export their app strings, send them off to a translation agency and then re-upload them in a new language. This low initial barrier to entry makes most people believe that it should be an easy process, but it gets much more complex over time.
When you only have a few updates, it’s very easy to manage them, but as your business grows, so will the number of updates. The more markets you add, the more features you include, the more challenging localization becomes. You’ll have to continuously download your strings, establish jobs, follow up on them, receive them, and re-upload them into a new language–an extensive and hard-to-manage process.
If your app is big enough to explore new markets, you have to consider a continuous plan. With one, a scrawler monitors your program for changes, triggers a job when one is found, and immediately assigns a linguist. The returned content is automatically uploaded to the product with minimal manual back and forth. This is the best product localization process as it ensures a consistently up-to-date app with minimal oversight.
How to Build Continuous Product Localization
Since products have continuous updates, you’re faced with the challenge of controlling this while leveraging everything you’ve used before–and users only get more demanding over time as your product gains traction. If you’re going to support continuous localization, there are a few tools you’ll need to leverage.
- Glossaries: You’ve probably burned through a lot of money on your search engine optimization (SEO) methodology to help you raise your profile for explicit key terms. However, you lose this during translation and the only way to get around it is to create a glossary of your critical phrases that are tokenized. These vital words are evaluated to find their perfect equivalent in a foreign language. This glossary is going to power the next necessary tool: the translation memory.
- Translation memory: This tool stores all your changes and updates across languages. Over time, it will learn the cultural vernacular of your organization to ensure all content meets your very specific needs. The TM is where you store the nuance that supports your product.
- Connectors: The connectors you use are your funnel from one program to another. They allow you to monitor changes seamlessly and update content without sending files back and forth. The connectors will facilitate file transfers without manual intervention.
- File structuring: Your treatment of variables, regular expressions, and other content needs to be consistent across sites. A good strategy will ensure that these crucial parts of your code remain intact across languages.
- Machine translation: In many instances, the content you write will appear over and over again, like the terms of service or legal notice. This content will never change, but machine translation will update this automatically without the need to hire linguists or reinvent content.
- AI assignments: Hiring linguists is one of the most time-consuming parts of a translation job because you have to review resumes, vet credentials, and conduct interviews. Meanwhile, you’re dealing with content that isn’t in your native language, so there’s no way to tell if this person has the skills you need. A good AI program can use metrics and previously completed jobs to pinpoint the skills you need and match you with the ideal linguists for your job.
- Integrations: You likely don’t complete all your tasks using a single software. You have many different ones for the product itself, internal communications, customer service, and other needs. Your translation platform should be able to bring all these various programs together into a single space.
Product localization will allow you to reach new markets–but it’s not a one-off task. It’s an ongoing effort that requires a ton of support. By leveraging the right tools, you can develop a strategy that will carry you through any market.