Localization Tips for Software Apps and Games
Our increasingly multicultural world with enhanced interconnectivity afforded by the world wide web, means the demand for software localization, particularly for apps and games, is at an all time high. Efficient localization allows each of your target markets to connect with your software, fully immersing themselves in a user experience that feels personally tailored to both their linguistic and cultural expectations.
Localization will require editing many components of the software structure including all user facing components. So, what can you do to make the software localization process go as smoothly and efficiently as possible for your product, to be primed for international success?
Plan Ahead: As Early as Product Development Stage.
It may seem like we’re told to ‘plan ahead’ for everything these days, and while it is true that localization of software can occur after initial development has been completed, this is far from an ideal situation. Keeping in mind the aspects of your program that may need localization, can be immeasurably beneficial. Always avoid hard coding any language or culture specific features, but rather leave room for localization by taking into consideration the variations of space needed for different languages.
Notably, German is up to 30% longer than English, while Japanese words have been known to take up much less space than their English equivalents. Leaving room for the longest possible linguistic form will be invaluable for smooth integration of each new language when it comes time for localization.
Consistency is Key
Keeping terminology consistent throughout, will save you both time and money during the localization process. It may seem innocuous to use both of the phrases ‘OK’ or ‘Click Here’ interchangeably throughout your software program, but these variations in word choice for the same function or meaning can result in confusion in other languages, especially if these are localized by different translators.
Keep Cultural References to a Minimum
Some cultural references are unavoidable in any kind software development, especially when it comes to user interface and storylines. However, avoiding any cultural references that may be difficult if not impossible to translate into another language effectively is always a good rule to stick to.
Likewise, remain cognisant of the strict regulations placed on games in varying countries. If your gameplay is too culturally nuanced, it will likely require extensive localization at a later stage. Dependant on how difficult the source content is to localize, the end product could require so many changes that the localized versions barely resemble the original. This is far from ideal when attempting to reach your global market. Brand recognition plays an important role in fostering consumer loyalty. While this guideline may seem restrictive, it will help to limit issues later on, while ensuring consistency of user experience for all of your consumers.
Strings make up much of what software developers focus on, so it makes sense to internationalize your software from the beginning by externalizing any localizable strings so that your source code will never have to be changed during the localization process. By segregating all language or regionally affected elements into separate files, you significantly speed up the localization of your software into many new languages, as well as, protect your source code from any unwanted or difficult changes once development is complete.
Translation and Localization
Investing in good quality, experienced linguists to help you achieve the most desirable localization results for your software is possibly the most important tip for success. Native speaking, industry specialized translators offer unparalleled insight into what changes need to be made to ensure your software resonates properly with your new language market, in a way that they can relate to and will pique their interest.
Your translation team will not only translate any text and audio appearing in your game or app, they also seamlessly implement these changes so that the user experience remains unchanged. Sometimes, entire sections of gameplay, storylines or aspects of app design need to be removed or replaced ahead of release in regions with specific cultural sensitivities. This is to align the end product properly with the societal values of the new market.
Professional translators are vastly experienced in seeking out and dealing with potential issues while maintaining both game and app quality. Understandably, consumers and gamers worldwide have come to expect the same experience and high standards regardless of language.
The final, yet vital step on any localization journey, is to get target market feedback for your product in each new language region. This offers you the chance to tweak any aspects of the software that your reviewers find hard to engage with; be that layout, word choices to cultural relevance and respectfulness. From the very first development stages to the final product launch in new markets across the globe, software localization is your stepping stone from your local market to the world stage. So, it’s well worth taking the time to get right.