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12 Software Localization Tips that Every Startup Should Know About

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The surge in mobile apps has stimulated the need for providing information in a user-friendly language. According to CSA Research:

  • 65% of online shoppers prefer product information in their native language
  • 73% of buyers prefer to go through product reviews in the language they speak
  • 40% won’t buy a product if it’s not in their own language
  • 66% would use translation to understand the product

Customer views on website localisation

Screenshot Source: CSA Research

This means businesses (especially startups) should focus on adapting software for better engagement. Your software needs to be aligned with the user intent, values, and culture. Only then can it penetrate local markets.

Software Localization: Its Importance And Depth

Software encompasses everything from text, symbols, signs, measurement standards, graphics, videos. So, if you’re thinking translating the text in the local language would be enough, you’re not entirely there.

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Software localization is not about changing a few main sections. It’s not right to presume that the user will have enough information to take the desired action. The goal is to attract the user and make them feel at home.

In this context, design and other visual aspects go a long way to make your efforts count.

Software Localization Basics

Instead of simply translating the text and instructions, professional software localization services will dive deeper and do the following tasks:

  • Changing the size and placement of buttons
  • Altering form size (that may involve removing some fields)
  • Modifying images and their placement
  • Choosing readable fonts with proper sizes (for headers, bullets and normal text)
  • Changing the backend codes (for local employees from different regions)
  • Making adjustments in page elements according to the text length

These are some basic-level issues that make software localization a complicated task. This calls for some actionable tips.

Give importance to each element, even if it’s a currency symbol or a system of measurement. When localizing your software, focus on geographical sensitivities for a seamless experience.

Person using a coding interface on a laptop

Image source: Pixnio

Below, we have listed some software localization tips related to the key areas:

  • Text
  • Design
  • User experience

But before that, take a look at the best practices that will apply irrespective of the region.

So, let’s get started!

Software Localization Best Practices

Remember, there is no standard process of software localization. However, an experienced localization service follows these best practices:

Localization isn’t an Isolated Task

Software localization is a part of product development – not basic, but an extension. Therefore, it must be incorporated on an as-needed basis during the development stages. This way you will be able to translate and localize it effortlessly, in any language.

Use of Simple Language

Avoid using industry-specific terms and complicated words. A user interface with simple-to-read source language will appeal to a large customer base. At the same time, it will make localization a touch easier.

Strings On The Page

User-visible strings appear on the web page in the form of texts and labels. When localizing software, these strings are externalized. This simply means saving the strings to a translation file.

For localizable strings, developers create multiple properties files depending on the target languages.

Here’s what developers should do for a seamless and optimized software localization:

Avoid Hard Coding

Use regular expressions instead of hard-coded strings

Don’t Use Concatenation Strings

Concatenated strings are two strings joined together, which must be avoided. They can cause translation errors during the localization phase.

Use Explanatory Comments

Define the context of the string wherever possible. It helps in meeting translation accuracy.

Software Localization Platforms

Different software localization platforms offer the following:

  • Customization with GitHub, Python, and other languages.
  • Integrated translation services to ease up the process.

But that will only be helpful if you’re a developer. If you’re not, consider hiring a professional software localization service.

Tips Related To Text And Writing Systems

Localizing software in Arabic is a lot different than adapting in Hebrew. Other than translation, there are aspects like orientations and character encoding standards. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to address these issues in a better way:

Enter key on a keyboard with the word translate on it

Image source: Pixabay

Localize Elements Beyond Text Fields

Other than the text fields, you need to also focus on resource files. These include:

From Passion To Profit
  • Dialogue boxes
  • Action buttons
  • Menus and tabs

Similarly, you might have to change the user interface files, including localizable strings.

Review Changes and Make Adjustments

Observe how new changes reflect on the screen – desktop and mobiles. At times, fonts appear differently on these screens.

Does the font size impact page alignment on different screens? If this happens, try other fonts or sizes.

Next, see how the new implementations are impacting software functions. You might need to modify the backend codes to ensure all text fields appear properly on the screen.

Know the User Intent

Needless to say, user intent is the basis of optimization. You need to know what type of information users find attracted to. Therefore, dig deeper and find out what excites native language speakers.

  • Do they need more information to reach the decision?
  • Is a single-line sentence, phrase, or heading enough?

Graphic Design (Symbols, Pictures, Colors)

User interface comprises linguistic and non-linguistic elements, and localization lets you adapt both. You need to examine images and symbols clinically. The purpose is to ensure:

  • These elements are not offensive to anyone
  • Your target audience can relate to them

Follow these tips to optimize your software’s design.

Pick the Icons and Symbols Carefully

This aspect needs in-depth research and understanding of the local audience’s perception. Symbols can confuse people. For example:

  • For the US audience, a red flag on the mailbox means new messages. But that can confuse European or Asian people.
  • A hand gesture where your thumb and forefinger touch each other to make an “O” is common in the US. However, this symbol can be offensive for non-US audiences.

Avoid Controversial Images

Just like symbols and signs, be very careful in picking the right images. That’s because the same image can be perceived differently by two different sets of audiences.

For example, an image of an owl depicts learning and intelligence in the US. However, Asian countries perceive it as a symbol of foolishness.

Make sure that the images don’t give rise to social or religious hatred.

This is the reason why Red Cross uses the red crescent symbol in many Muslim countries.

Photo editing software with a colour picker on screen

Image source: MaxPixel

Localize Graphics Not Relevant To Your Target Audience

Pay attention to the graphics that don’t relate to the audience you’re targeting. To understand the impact of offensive images, here’s an example.

In 2017, Nivea launched an ad saying, White is Purity. It received a massive backlash that prompted an apology from the manufacturers.

So, conduct in-depth research and test your software for any sensitive graphics. Localize ones that contradict the people’s beliefs or make them feel inferior.

User Experience (UX)

Finally, focus on giving the best user experience. Here are some helpful tips:

Conduct User Research

Like any other product, software localization also requires extensive user research. It’ll help you come up with a design that resonates with the local audience. Not only that, but it will also make your software attractive.

Data Collection

Collect samples of similar (successful) applications. Also, engage with your target audience to learn about their preferences.

Examining The Data

Since it’s a software you’re localizing, focus on these elements:

  • Action buttons and their placement
  • Form fills
  • Amount of text
  • How information is organized
  • Sections/groups of information pieces on the page

Analyze Device-Specific Data

Ideally, you’d go for both mobile and desktop applications. So, your research should consider both.

Organize Information According To The Local Audience

Experienced software localization services would ideally research deeper to find out:

  • How much information they should offer, and
  • How to organize it for different audiences.

This requires knowledge about the local culture.

Suppose you’re localizing software for the Japanese audience, give as much information and options as possible. Use multiple elements on the page, such as:

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  • Information boxes
  • Sidebars
  • External and internal links

The amount of information might not go with your design and theme. But you can always compromise to get more conversion.


Software localization is gaining importance, and rightly so. It helps in targeting the local audience in a better way. That said, it’s not just about translating some sections and leaving it on the user to decide. It requires in-depth research, analysis, and proper implementation.

We hope, the above tips will help localize your software for your target audience. For better results, you can hire a professional software localization service.

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