The importance of software localization for exportation

July 8, 2024

How a good localization service can help ensure the success of your software in foreign markets

When thinking of exporting software, it initially seems like a simple task: just translating the program’s commands, manuals and terms will suffice, right? In reality, it doesn’t quite work like that.

As we explained on February 29 in “Software localization and the technology industry”, the software exporting process consists of two stages: internationalization and localization. The first aims to make the program “neutral”, or applicable to any target market with few adaptations. After internationalization, the software needs to be characterized and targeted to an audience other than its country of origin. This is localizing software in the market.

More complex than internationalization, localization is a process that entails additional stages and a higher number of translation and IT professionals with specific skills. During the localization process, the team will ensure that the software is fully adapted to its target audience, meeting specific linguistic and usability requirements. All parts of the software are adjusted to the target audience: language, symbols, color palette, organization, execution, functions, and any other aspect that needs adaptation.

The whole adaptation process involved in software localization aims to make the product usable by a specific audience. Targeting is just one of the steps in localization, because even when all linguistic and visual aspects are in accordance with the habits and cultural norms of that population, this doesn’t necessarily create a product that will meet specific demands and needs.

Color is an example of how the user’s perception of software can be influenced. Although some colors carry universal meanings, they take on a specific, singular meaning in each region. Red, for example, aside from meaning love, is also associated with mourning in South Africa and life in Japan. So, deciding to use a certain color to indicate a command, an alert or a configuration may not be that obvious when programming software.

In this case, all the translation and technological work that localization requires must be combined with thorough research on cultural specificities and beliefs. This is not only to understand the adaptation needs, but also to correctly identify all cultural transpositions to be applied. In a software localization project, nothing should be assumed as certain and definitive or used with uncertainty or without proper advance research, because although some characteristics can be universalized, they cannot be taken as application parameter.

At ZAUM, software localization is among our specialized services. In many success stories we have been able to meet client expectations regarding target audience characteristics, generating great satisfaction due to maximum quality in product delivery.

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