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Continuous Localization for Software Development Companies

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Continuous Localization for Software Development Companies

Check out how continuous localization helps keep customers happy through delivering localized products while keeping the development process going.

· Agile Zone ·
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globalization

Globalization is nothing new these days and development companies need to adapt to the growing need for localizing their products. Developers have to face the challenge that these days every customer group expects to receive a high-performing and localized product on-time.

Continuous localization is a way to keep customers happy by delivering localized products in shorter times while keeping the development process going. But since localization is different from the software development process, its transition to agile methods comes with certain pitfalls and challenges. Let’s have a look at continuous localization and the best ways to optimize the process inside your company.

What Exactly Is Continuous Localization?

Before getting to a definition here, a brief history lesson on the “old-school” of localization is in order. 

Software localization means adapting it to the many different cultures of your users.  Contrary to what many people think, this isn’t simply a matter of translating text, but also digging down into things as nuanced as directional references (right and left vs East and West) to common things such as correct formats of date and time, formatting, weight, and height, for example.

When the waterfall approach was the most common development method, localization was performed using the linear method inherent in the waterfall. As soon as a job was done, managers would pass it to translators and agencies for localization. Of course, such an approach involved quite a few pitfalls: it took too much time, required developers to rework code when changes were needed, and, most importantly, the customers had to wait.

So, when agile methodology became popular, localization naturally had to keep up with the times, and companies had to change the way they localized their products. This led to the appearance of continuous localization –  ongoing localization of software following the agile development methodology.

While continuous localization demands more investment of time and resources than the classic model, this localization type has several important advantages to consider:

  • Customer satisfaction: with continuous localization, the product is delivered to the users much faster and this way they can enjoy full program functionality without the need to wait.
  • Smoother development process: continuous localization implies the ongoing localization process, which, in turn, includes the option of immediately changing certain strings if needed so the developer will not have to go over the whole thing in the end.
  • Transparency of processes: continuous localization often implies the use of a specific tool where developers, translators, managers, and other team members work together.

But how do you implement continuous localization in your company’s processes? Here are a few tips to consider.

Use Automation Platforms

As Gary Lefman, Cisco’s Internationalization Architect, recalls, when he was looking for ways to implement continuous localization, he needed a tool that would automate the process. Developers constantly use automation tools to facilitate their work – so if you want your team to accept and adopt localization, you will need a user-friendly tool.

Today there are many available localization platforms that will help you automate, optimize, and streamline your localization processes. These platforms usually notify translators and agencies as soon as new strings for translation appear and add the translated strings back to a repository. This type of approach saves hours of manual work and makes the whole process much faster and more efficient.

A good example is the strategic partnership between Alconost and Crowdin. Crowdin is a cloud management platform that streamlines all localization-related processes. Alconost offers its professional team of translators, editors, and managers to work on the content that is uploaded to Crowdin. Once the translation is completed, users can export the files either manually or automatically (via an API) and let the testers check quality. This approach allows us to offer continuous localization services to our clients and help them get their products translated in a smooth and high-quality manner.

Involve Community

The quality of your content will heavily depend on the translators that you choose. However, if you have a massive amount of content and a tight deadline or restricted budget, it might be a good idea to involve your community to help you.

For brands like Reddit, community engagement with processes can greatly boost users’ loyalty and, at the same time, provide high-quality content since the translators will be native speakers. But for companies with specific content (healthcare, for example), it would be better to reach out to a language service provider for professional services.

Assemble a Localization Team

In order for the localization process to be properly managed and well organized, it is always best to assemble a localization team. A localization team will usually include:

  • A localization engineer: responsible for building and organizing workflows.
  • A project manager: responsible for monitoring project work and deadlines.
  • A QA manager: responsible for the quality of the end localized product.

Even if you’re unable to assemble an entire team, have at least one or two people responsible or consider outstaffing.

Start From “Short-Tail” Languages 

“Short-tail” are the most spoken languages, including English, Russian, German, French, Japanese, Chinese, and French. Therefore, when you plan localization of your services, make sure to start from these “short-tail” languages first.

However, there is one pitfall to keep in mind when it comes to choosing languages for translation. The thing is, the target audience for video games and gaming software is usually in East Asian countries. Therefore, if you work in this industry, think of your target audience first. It might turn out that you actually have to start with languages like Vietnamese or Indonesian and only then continue adapting the services to other markets.

If all this sounds too confusing, don’t worry — we have assembled a small guide on choosing the right languages for localization. There is quite a lot of statistics involved (i.e. ley languages by a number of speakers, key languages by the number of Internet users, etc.) but in order to make a profit, all your business decisions should be data-driven.

A Case Study: The InDriver App

InDriver began as a small startup and ended up being one of the most popular and convenient ride-hailing apps. The main idea of the application is to let passengers set the price they’re willing to pay and drivers decide if they’re willing to take fares at the price.  

As the application grew bigger, the team needed help with localization, and that is where the Alconost team stepped in. Not only did the InDriver app need to be translated into popular languages (i.e. French) but it also had to be localized for the Indonesian and Indian markets as well. An additional challenge was the need to translate the app into specific dialects so the app would enjoy a high level of trust among users.

We managed to find the right specialists and translate the application into all the languages required.  And this is a perfect example of how you should not rely solely on statistics — remember to put the market needs in first place.

Final Word

Even though continuous localization might demand more investment and time than traditional approaches, the outcome will be much better. Think of it as of long-term investment when you are working on gradually improving the user experience. While you might face certain challenges, the result will be a hundred percent worth it.

Topics:
agile development ,continuous delivery ,localization ,localization how-to ,software developent ,software localization

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