What is Content Localization Software? Localization 101

What is content localization? What solutions are available to help businesses manage their translation and localization needs? These questions and more are answered here.


What Is Content Localization?

Content localization is the process of adapting and ultimately transforming content so that it resonates in another country or locale. While it often involves translating text from one language to another, it doesn’t have to. Its focus is much broader.

With localization, content is made to feel “local” — that is, the cultural and country-specific aspects are addressed. That can include making changes to:

  • Spelling — For example, changing “localization” to “localisation” when localizing content for an audience in the United Kingdom.
  • Phrasing — This is especially critical with content that may be considered culturally insensitive or could seem out of place to the intended audience.
  • Time and date formatting — Is it MM/DD/YYY or DD/MM/YYYY, for instance?
  • Measurements — Should it be miles or kilometers (or kilometres)?
  • Hyperlinks — Finding source material to link to in the target audience’s native language.
  • Images — Swapping out locale- or culture-specific images with others that speak to the new audience.
  • Emojis — Different cultures use emojis differently.
  • Right-to-left formatting — If localizing for Arabic and Hebrew, for instance.

How Is That Different Than Translation?

In short, translation is one part of the localization process.

Most translators will consider localization issues when translating a text. But they are bound by the text. That is, their focus is on converting the words on the page into another language — always respecting the target language’s grammar rules and syntax — and faithfully conveying the meaning of the original text.

Localization helps to solve the technical and cultural issues around transforming a company’s content for a new audience. In essence, localization makes it possible for a translation to have a native feel.

What Is Content Localization Software?

Content localization software supports the translation process by automating workflows and centralizing the translation process. Businesses rely on these software solutions to seamlessly scale their translation and localization management efforts as they expand into new markets. And linguists look to them to handle the manual and technical aspects of language localization so that they are free to concentrate on what they do best: translating a company’s words.

Word Order: An Example of a Common Web Localization Challenge

Localization often requires the order of words, phrases, or content to change within the sentence. That means that dynamic content — content that changes based on data and the individual user — needs to be moved around, too, even if it shouldn’t be translated.

Smartling’s translation and localization software transforms that dynamic content into placeholders:

Welcome %{username}, you have $%{balance} in your account.

The translator can then move those placeholders to wherever they’re needed in the translated string without having to deal with any coding themselves.

HTML and formatting tags, such as bolded text or line breaks, can also be represented simply and cleanly so that they can be inserted with no fuss in the target text. This reduces the risk of technical or rendering issues when a company’s localized content is published.

Other Benefits of Using a Localization Content Management System

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

  • Workflows are automated and easily customizable
  • Linguistic assets, such as your translation memories, style guides, and glossaries, are easily accessible and searchable
  • Visual context is provided directly within the localization software
  • Quality checks minimize the risk of human error
  • Communication between project managers and linguists is kept within the platform

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

What Content Should You Use Localization Software To Translate?

The short answer is everything and anything.

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 via a diverse selection of channels and have a wide array of content — from product packaging and marketing materials to emails and social media outreach. They all need to be localized so that businesses can connect with new markets.

Content localization software can help businesses seamlessly manage the translation process for each of these content types at scale.

About Smartling

Smartling’s website translation software has a range of utilities to aid in your localization efforts. Our translation software has native integrations for the most popular eCommerce platforms, content management systems, help desk portals, marketing hubs, and repositories to make localization effortless. And we have a team of talented translators from all over the world to provide accurate translation in any language.

Ready to learn more? Contact us to get started.

Looking to do more research? Download our Sample Translation RFP to organize your search.