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The Localization Mistakes You Can Avoid

May 2, '19 by Aaron Schliem

Localization mistakes are easy to make, but they are not inevitableLocalization can be a minefield. With one misstep you can end up with a catastrophic cost explosion. Another misstep may put you on a disorganized path with poor-quality results. So, how can you avoid such dangerous pitfalls?

Localization mistakes are easy to make, but they are not inevitable. Keep an eye out for some of the common stumbling blocks startups encounter. With the right localization tools and best practices, you can launch without making these costly mistakes. And a smooth start will help you achieve faster and greater success.

 

Localization Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make

Even if you are new to localization, you don’t have to stumble through the weeds and learn the hard way. Let’s take time out to visualize some of the common localization mistakes, so you can learn the easy way how to avoid them:

 

Taking the slow boat to China

You send an exported resource file to your project manager for translation. They find it in their inbox bright and early the next morning and send it off to the translation vendor. Little do you know that the translators are actually asleep on the other side of the world. A few days later, at best, you get a translated file in return. It may or may not be what you need; you don’t speak Korean.

Do you really have all that time—or all that patience for a questionable product?

You can get to market faster by building API integrations that automate workflow to the translator. New generation localization platforms use AI to match knowledgeable linguists to your projects, and these same platforms equip them with translation memories, term bases, and style guides to ensure consistency. Jobs are created automatically as soon as the platform recognizes updates to your product. In the time it takes for linguists to complete their careful translations and for in-market reviewers to sign off, sophisticated machine translations can temporarily fill the gaps in your content updates.

The time savings will be dramatic in comparison, and most importantly, your content will get to market much sooner.

 

Squandering your human resources

There are lots of places to look for time and resource drains.

Are you spending your developer resources on building proprietary localization tools? There is no need to waste time and resources reinventing the wheel when it’s already out there and ready for you to simply integrate your product, your collaborators, and your brand guidelines.

Are you wasting time and effort nagging in-market reviewers to sign off on translated content? You can preserve your time and theirs by plugging them into a centralized platform with the tools to complete review efficiently, as well as the tools to maintain consistency with local terminology and the overarching brand identity. In fact, it’s possible for you to step back from managing this process altogether when a localization management tool can accomplish the organization and back and forth efforts with greater ease.

Optimize the scope and cost of your project management overall by tightly integrating your CMS and code repository with a localization automation hub.

 

Hiding an excellent product behind poor-quality localization

Your excellent product does not automatically guarantee excellent translation for all target markets. Without a robust suite of localization tools, you may face incomplete or out-of-touch translations, brand distortion, inconsistencies in terminology, and even liability issues. It may even be that your product just never gets into the hands of international audiences because localization efforts fall short.

It’s important to strategize and mobilize your technology right at the very beginning in order to be prepared for the functional and market-related challenges of localization. Otherwise, you may have to redo work you’ve already paid for or interrupt your own product development to get it straightened out.

Your terminology and style guidelines shouldn’t depend on the spreadsheet solution that is circulated and updated haphazardly. These critical elements of consistency and quality assurance should be integrated into a centralized localization platform. From this dynamic repository, your managers, linguists, and in-country reviewers can all buy into the localization best practices and be held accountable to quality that continues to improve.

 

Spending like there’s no tomorrow

Avoid having to defend your vastly underestimated spending to the people in charge when tomorrow does come.

Too often, companies are in such a rush to move into new markets that they integrate every code repository and content system, and then they realize months later that their estimate for the amount of content was way low. By then, it’s too late to think critically about whether they really needed to translate everything and whether they really needed to commit to so many languages so soon. Instead, they are floundering the explain the bill to the VP.

Here is where it really helps to have an expert localization partner in your corner. They can help you stop to consider how to maximize your localization ROI from the start—how to prioritize your markets and your content systems. Maybe, for example, you need separate Portuguese translations for Portugal and Brazil but only one German translation for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It’s worth a lot to follow through with this planning step. You can consider the user experience, as well as market data, to build a smart step-by-step strategy that can scale with your budget over time.

 

Not bothering to test the translated product

After you have gone through the trouble and expense of translating your app or website or learning module, you should definitely give it a test run, rather than simply cross your fingers and hope the translation will deliver a positive return on your investment. The truth is that it is not a huge additional cost to follow through with quality testing.

You could even have a linguist run the app as if they were a user to evaluate the experience and make sure everything is functioning as planned. When translators work out of the context of the product, it gives rise to unanticipated linguistic issues, as well as functional issues such as character limits. This points to ways that you can tighten up the translators’ preparedness and resources. But you should still circle back around following translation to ensure that your content is flawlessly localized and ready to launch.

 

The Right Localization Platform Puts You on the Road to Success

You can avoid a lot of localization mistakes by partnering with an experienced localization management service. For every point on our list of common mistakes, the value of experience and centralized management is clear. By automating wherever possible, you save time and effort while optimizing localization management and quality through the use of sophisticated AI and translation memories. By planning carefully from the start and following through with on-going quality assurance, you make sure that all of your efforts are worth the spend.

 

Bureau Works provides a full spectrum of localization and internationalization services, along with translation and quality assurance to a wide range of clients in various industries. Its platform can integrate with any operating system for the continuous provision and management of localization services. Contact our team today to begin the localization process with confidence.

 

 

Aaron Schliem

Written by Aaron Schliem

Aaron is the chief marketing officer for Bureau Works. He also loves to tickle the ivories and is a wiz at designing cocktails.

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