What Is Software Localization?

Software localization goes beyond simply translating a program for a different market. It involves changing the user interface and process to meet the nuances of the cultural, regional, and linguistic needs of that market.

Find out more about what software localization is and why global brands need to master.

Why Is Software Localization Important? 

Software localization is more than translation. Translation is a great first step, but it doesn’t take into account the cultural or regional understandings of the user. Localization takes translation a step further and makes sure that not only is the text of software updated to a new language but that the content is relevant and meaningful to local users while still retaining the initial value of the software. 

For example, software written in the United States often records measurements using imperial units, like inches and miles. However, when localizing the software, you would convert feet to meters to match the target market.  

Measuring tape a meter ruler, and another ruleThat same process would also address communicating idioms and phrases from one language to another. A great way to see the difference between translation and localization is to look at idioms. Idioms are phrases that have a unique meaning that isn’t understandable from the context. For example, in English we have idioms like “over the moon,” “on the tip of my tongue,” or “bite the bullet.” 
 

For example, it makes sense in German to say “Ich habe Hummeln im Hintern” to say you’re feeling anxious or nervous. However, the literal translation means, “I have bumblebees up my butt.” 

Localization focuses on cultural translation while still retaining the initial meaning of the idiom. Rather than using the literal translation, the localized phrase would be: “I have ants in my pants.” This would match an idiom about feeling nervous with an idiom about feeling nervous. While the words may be different, the meaning stays the same.  

A woman biting on a pencil while looking at a laptop, working on software localization

Localization also focuses on making software socially and culturally acceptable. Just because an idea, image, or content is acceptable in one market does not mean it is in every market. For example, in Japan, the number four is considered unlucky because one translation of it sounds like shi (死) or death. It’s such a common superstition that buildings will skip having a fourth floor. 

 

Software translations would translate the number without any understanding of the local superstition, while localizations would be cautious about using the number four and, if absolutely necessary, would use the alternate reading yon for the number four. 

 

Who Uses Software Localization 

Software localization is used by any software producer or manufacturer who wants to distribute their product in more than one country. Every product that is released on the global market should go through localization.  

Two hands typing on a laptop, working on software localization

Why Is Localization Necessary?  

There’s a growing assumption, and even an expectation in some industries, that users are bilingual and fluent in English. If the user reads and understands English, is it really necessary to localize software? 
 

Yes. It is still a great idea to localize software even if the majority of the users do not need the localized version of the software. Software that is accommodating for all users broadens the potential market where it can be used and increases customer satisfaction.  

 

Localization can play an important role in the success of your software. With localization, you can:  

  • Enter new markets easily 
  • Improve brand loyalty 
  • Create a competitive edge against local and global businesses 
  • Increase your revenue 

 

SYSTRAN Makes Localization Easy 

Traditionally, localization would require a team of translators and native speakers working together to create the new product. Each asset and line of content had to be inspected, interpreted, and localized, which would take a lot of time and money. 
 

SYSTRAN is one of the best software localization tools. We use open-source Neural Machine translation technology that offers 55 languages and hundreds of domain models created to cater to a wide range of markets. We provide a secure and accurate translation and localization that happens in seconds, not weeks or months.  

 

Request a demo to find out how SYSTRAN can help your company, no matter if it is a small startup or a large corporation, better reach a global market. We even offer a partnership program where we come together to build a custom solution for your unique needs.