The Difference between a Localization Tool and a Localization Platform

You’re prepping for a localization project. You’re using localization tools here and there but the whole effort is not synchronized or centrally managed. You’re having to fill in a lot of gaps manually and this affects quality and speed.

Many marketers find themselves in this situation and this is largely because they’re using tools and not a full-fledged localization platform. So, what’s the difference between a tool and a platform? Read on.

Tool Operator

“Tool” is the keyword here: localization tools are designed to perform a single task or set of tasks that help to streamline the process of translation. Think of it in terms of a simple building tool — the hammer. This tool has a limited scope of work. Ideally, you’re using it to drive nails to subtly shift larger objects. You might also use it to pull nails or pry other materials, but straying any further from its intended purpose means you could probably do the same work in less time with a different tool. So it is with localization tools, which might be glossary items or style guides designed to give users a shortcut when it comes to creating great content. They’re ideal when used for their intended purpose, but struggle when taken away from it.

Translation tools are also designed for specific users, like translators and project managers. Tools for translators are complicated, specific, and have limited transferability, and they aid their work highly. Project managers have to handle varied tasks like prepping a project, managing the translation and review processes, and invoicing and payments. Hence, their tools are different, but also need to be connected to each other.

Platform Priorities

Translation platforms, on the other hand, are designed to provide large-scale functionality and serve a variety of interests. Although specific toolsets may be included, those tools are interdependent and allow business users with differing roles to each find something of value. Consider a translation software program with a proxy tool. Developers benefit from the automated workflows of this tool because they remove the need to re-code databases and websites to make room for translated website content or Unicode values, reducing project timelines as a result. Translators receive access to the glossary and style guide, which give them critical insight into your brand voice, tone, and any subjects that are off-limits. Meanwhile, marketers can access the translation workflow at any time to see what’s been changed, what’s on the docket, and how the new version of a company’s website or e-commerce tool compares to the original.

And the use of translation memory tools within the platform means every completed translation and successful localization adds to the list of often-used content, further streamlining the process of replacing identical strings of data — or those that are “close” without being exact. Translation memory gives human translators an ideal starting point.

One or Many?

The bottom line for a website or app localization tool? It’s meant for an individual with a specialized job to complete a single task. It can be used again for the same purpose by someone with the same qualifications but is otherwise limited by bounds of function and form. Localization platforms, however, are designed for teams and allow multiple users to drive the success of a localization project, each according to their expertise. In addition, platforms provide an overarching view of the translation process, giving marketers and executives the ability to track progress step-by-step.

Image source: BigStock

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About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is a freelance technology writer with a passion for telling great stories about unique brands. For the past five years, he's covered everything from cloud computing to home automation and IT security. He speaks some French, is fluent in Ancient Greek and a master of Canadian English — and yes, colour needs a 'u'.