4 Key Tips for Simplifying the Localization Process

If you’re like many people we talk to, the company you work for is probably feeling the squeeze of the current economic downturn, and has been for a while. In tough times expansion is often put on the back burner and localization projects are left behind. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that localization is a luxury that an international business can do without. In fact, if you’re cutting back on product launches and market expansion this leaves an opportunity to improve or expand the languages you already support, increasing engagement in existing markets and improving sales.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that localization is just a fancy word for translation, when in reality it covers everything from letters to layout, color to cultural suitability, style, tone, meaning, message and everything in between. The Localization process is a much more broad and comprehensive endeavor,  interdependent and layered, and when done right, can lead to excellent results.

Here are 4 areas that are key to ensuring your localization project goes without a hitch.

1. Preparation & Work Flow
The complexities of the localization process can be greatly reduced with proper preparation, in order to avoid backtracking, redundancies and excessive amount of version control. The benefits of setting up a tailored work flow will determine not only the turnaround time and productivity level, but quality as well. Quality Assurance procedures are often multi-staged, and should not only happen at the end of the project as this has a much bigger impact that correcting errors early on.

Providing clear project milestones to your localization vendor will ensure that the work flow is designed to achieve these goals and QA can be introduced at each step to ensure the project is kept on track. This also helps reduce the amount of input required from the localization vendor as expectations of quality and turnaround are set at the beginning rather than being arrived upon once translation is complete. Outlining and tailoring well defined work flows prior to localization can help when new requirements need to be dealt with, since a clearly defined project should allow time and cost margins to account for changes.

2. Terminology
Terminology lists and glossaries are the cornerstones of any localization process.  Even the smallest of localization tasks will experience the advantages of having both set up. A properly built terms base that is domain and client specific ensures that your message is consistent and uses proper language. Terminology should precede translation while terminology augmentation can be involved in a later stage.

3. Style Guide
A good terms base should be focused on domain or company specific language and doesn’t need to act as a comprehensive guideline for all localization-related events. A style guide can easily fill in these gaps that your term base has. The style guide should cover instructions on grammar and style, and also any other language preferences as well. This will render the localization process simpler since an approved and verified result can more easily be achieved from pre-determined specifications than by implementing queries and changes at a later stage.

4. File Format Specification
It goes without saying that any formatting of files should be sound and intact and any required file structure and formats should be fully documented. It’s always worthwhile to do a pseudo-translation of any material before embarking on the full-fledged localization effort so the output can be assessed and any modifications can be made. Stay away from modifying file structures “on-the-fly” to accommodate the implementation of new features, for example, comments, meta-data, change tracking, etc. It creates much more work so specify and implement the requirements prior to translation.

Source: Milengo.com

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