Step 1: Define the Scope of Your Localization Project
Before you start a web localization project, you need to define the project’s influence on your business model. What do you need to translate so your customers can enjoy a localized user experience no matter where they’re located? Other key decisions include how many languages you need to support, which ones they’ll be, and whether or not localization is just for your website or for the mobile app, too. Along with needing to translate website copy, you may also need to translate some documents.
The more granular you get in defining the project scope, including the number of pages or words that need to be translated, the easier it will be to figure out how to accomplish your localization project while preserving quality, accuracy, speed, and cost efficiency.
Step 2: Avoid the Internationalization Delay
Internationalization can be a time-consuming process—traditionally taking up to 18 months—that creates a serious bottleneck when localizing a website. Why? Developers need to go through your app or website to find all of the translatable text and code and extract this into what is called a strings file. Even a website that is light on front-facing content has more of it in menus, error messages, download buttons, and images that include superimposed text.
For many websites that weren’t built with internationalization in mind, the code has to be re-built. One way to speed up the process is to use a translation proxy, which is the translation equivalent of a content delivery network. The tool automatically extracts code, text, images, and everything else that needs to be translated from the website, requests translation, and when the translated content is ready, inserts it into the appropriate country or regional website. Human involvement is nil or very low in translation management when a proxy tool is used.
Step 3: Guide Translators
To ensure a consistent global presence, create a style guide and glossary for your translators before you even begin the website localization project.
Your style guide will establish format and tone for the translator, as well as spelling conventions, grammar, and syntax. It will also guide the translator through brand voice and specific standards relating to the languages and cultural norms you’re targeting. The glossary will help your translation team understand key business terminology in your industry and how you want this to be translated for your new audiences. You can use translation software in creating a glossary. You’ll need to upload the source text. The software will detect terms that are often repeated and suggest them for inclusion in the glossary.
Step 4: Get Expert Feedback
Even if you’re a seasoned linguist, you probably won’t speak all the target languages yourself. This makes it difficult to check the quality of work provided by your translation provider is. The best way to do this is to find experts in your business, products, market, and niche—those who speak the target language so they can review translated content and make sure it is consistent in style, tone, and brand voice and takes full account of any cultural conventions local to your new users. Native speakers of the language are essential for this, sometimes they may even be living in the target market. This process is called an ‘in-country review’. It is an important step that ensures you don’t make any major translation errors or step on any toes. Many companies hire another translation company to do the linguistic review.
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