What is Localization Software? / Localization Software 101

Localization software helps you reach more markets faster and with greater accuracy. Find out how to communicate with your target audience like a native.


How localization software helps you achieve global success

Every company can agree that effective localization can help you reach new markets and grow your online presence worldwide. But knowing and executing good localization are two different things.

Someone can prepare to win a NASCAR race with all the training in the world, but they need a racecar to drive. It's the same with localization software. Companies require the right tools to connect with different cultures, regions, and native languages at scale.

The localization process can be a tedious task. It would take thousands of hours (or maybe years) to translate every piece of content your brand has. The costs would be even more troubling. And that's just translation—plenty more comes into play with localization, like formatting, images, and other cultural needs.

Localization software throws many of these obstacles out the window. The process becomes affordable and scalable, and more importantly, it can connect with audiences on a native level.

First, we'll learn what localization software is and how it can benefit your strategy. Then, we'll discuss the tools and methods you can adopt to implement better localization today.

How is localization different from translation?

When you hear the word “localization,” translation might be the first thing you think of. Many might think that straight translation is all you need to connect with a non-English audience, such as Japanese, Arabic, or Spanish speakers. But these translations could harm your market strategy if not done correctly.

Translation is only one part of the localization process. This method focuses on translating content word-for-word into another language. It also includes grammar and syntax rules to convey the text's meaning accurately. This step is only the start. You can translate something so that it is technically accurate, but it may end up with a totally different meaning. Or the translation could be excellent, but the images, web experience, and formatting may still feel foreign to a local user.

Even the colors you use could mean something totally different than you intend. Green, for example, indicates growth and happiness in some Western cultures, but in Indonesia, it symbolizes religious and legal connotations. You don’t necessarily want to take customers to court when you’re trying to sell them a product.

Localization, on the other hand, helps to solve technical and cultural nuances. It focuses on transforming a company's content for a new audience. In essence, localization gives a translation a more native feel.

What is localization software, and how does it work?

Localization software helps you adapt your business to the local market by transforming your website, content, and brand positioning to fit your audience’s culture and language. This tool aims to automate the localization process to make it highly accurate.

Companies can better connect with multilingual audiences when they adopt effective software. They can then expand their reach and enter new target markets with a scalable localization process.

traditional vs localization software
Companies can leverage localization software to exponentially increase new market launches.

Additionally, localization software helps businesses uniquely represent their brand identities and products. If a business launches a new product or publishes daily social media posts and website content, it can streamline translations and represent its brand to all target audiences. Companies can also publish content and projects as fast as they would with their native audience.

What is content localization?

While localization focuses on adapting your brand, customer support, and client-facing materials to a local audience, content localization represents a specific facet of the process.

Content localization involves converting source text and media for a local audience. It focuses on transforming text translations, videos, images, and materials to communicate with the audience.

One example is localizing American content for a British audience. A localization team would change certain American English spellings, terms, and contexts to better reach the audience.

Another example would be entering the Latin American market for the first time. A company would want to ensure that the translators relate to the audience and that translations consider any nuances and context. The localization team should review images and ensure that they represent Latin demographics, apparel styles, and body language. The team would also include localized videos using actors or presenters from the local audience.

The issues with content localization are the speed, cost, and accuracy required to execute and maintain the strategy. It's challenging enough with only one local market—but imagine localizing content for dozens of markets. Because of this, companies need a platform to make the localization process more efficient.

Localization software provides the power to scale multilingual audience growth efficiently and affordably.

Who needs localization software?

Businesses that want to expand into new markets or better connect with current multilingual audiences should adopt localization software. Companies can use localization software to improve, modernize, and prepare their website and materials for a global economy. Doing so allows them to reach each audience on a personal level—and communicate like native speakers.

The benefits of localization software

Using software to manage your localization needs puts you in control of your translation workflows and processes.

If you hope to expand into new global markets and sustainably scale your translation and localization efforts, consider adopting localization software.

You can expect many benefits, such as:

  • Automated and easily customizable workflows
  • Easy access to your linguistic assets, such as translation memories, style guides, and glossaries, as well as search functions
  • Visual context for better translations and formatting
  • Minimized human error due to quality checks
  • Efficient communication between localization project managers and linguists on the same platform

Taking advantage of these benefits helps businesses and translators reduce the time they spend on repetitive, manual tasks, accelerating the translation process and boosting quality.

What content should you use localization software to translate?

The short answer: anything and everything.

While website, software, and mobile app localization needs may be the first that come to mind, those are just the tip of the iceberg. Businesses interact with customers through diverse channels and have a wide variety of content—from product packaging and marketing materials to emails and social media posts. Businesses need to localize all of these so they can connect with new markets.

Content localization platforms can help businesses seamlessly manage the translation process for each content type at scale. How to choose a localization software

How to choose a localization software

Your continuous localization strategy will heavily rely on the tool you use. Without the right platform, you will face obstacles and inefficiencies that slow your ability to communicate with audiences like a native.

You can review the following two categories to decide if a localization platform has what you need:

Software capabilities

Review the platform's features and abilities to ensure that they fit your needs well. Use this checklist to identify the top software features:

  1. Translation management system (TMS): A TMS helps you efficiently manage all of your translation projects in one place with the ability to automate various processes.
  2. Automation: You can deploy new, higher-quality content faster with the use of AI-enabled translation workflows and automation tools.
  3. Translation proxy: A translation proxy is the fastest, most cost-effective way to deploy multilingual websites and requires nearly zero IT involvement.
  4. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool: A decent CAT tool should provide a translation interface with visual context, translation memory, and linguistic assets to assist the translator and reduce the post-editing work.
  5. Transcreation tool: Transcreation tools translate the source text's meaning, style, and tone rather than just the words. The result is content that carries the same emotional impact as the source text.
  6. Translation analytics: Dashboard analysis and downloadable data allow you to measure and manage workflow efficiencies, translation quality, and cost.
  7. Integration capabilities: A good localization software company will provide integrations for popular ecommerce platforms, content management systems, help desk portals, marketing hubs, and repositories to make localization effortless.

Dynamic content

Localization often requires the order of words, phrases, or information to change within content. That means that dynamic content—content that changes based on data and the individual user—needs to change, too, even if doing so doesn’t require translation work. Choose a translation and localization software with a feature that handles this requirement.

For example, Smartling's solution transforms dynamic content into placeholders: "Welcome %{username}, you have $%{balance} in your account." The translator can then move those placeholders wherever they need them in the translated string without any coding. They can represent HTML and formatting tags, such as bolded text or line breaks, cleanly so that developers can insert them into the target text with no fuss. Dynamic workflows also reduce the risk of technical or rendering issues during content publication.

The Smartling difference in software localization

Smartling offers the solution for all your needs with its proprietary localization technologies. Below are a few of its localization solutions that top brands take advantage of to achieve the best translation results:

1. LanguageAI

Hundreds of companies utilize Smartling's proprietary LanguageAI technology to automate and create multilingual websites, campaigns, online products, and customer experiences. You can use AI to translate quickly, reduce costs, and improve quality with predictive technology and automated quality checks.

*Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about LanguageAI. *

2. The Global Delivery Network

Smartling’s Global Delivery Network (GDN), a translation proxy, is the fastest, most cost-effective way to deploy your web experience. The GDN ingests newly published content, and once it translates the content and sends it through the proper approval workflows to publish, the end-user will be able to visit a localized version of your website and find instant results in their native language (with 99.99% uptime guaranteed).

The GDN provides instant, personal web experiences and SEO compatibility, and it detects and rewrites links so users stay on the correct version.

3. The Neural Machine Translation Hub

Smartling's Neural Machine Translation (NMT) Hub uses AI to deliver the highest quality translations anytime and anywhere.

The NMT Hub uses AI to select the most appropriate machine translation engine for your content (see a full list of available engines here). Then, it gives you the highest quality translations, at scale, in milliseconds.

Smartling: Premium localization software

With Smartling, you get an all-in-one platform that can help your team scale your localization strategy so you can grow and reach more customers around the world.

Localization software can empower and increase your entire expansion strategy. Smartling has the localization tools you need to take your strategy to the next level.

Watch our five-minute demo to see how Smartling can provide the best software for your strategy to help you reach more customers and scale your business.