What is it about human nature that makes us put things off until the last minute?
Pretty much everyone is guilty of it at some point in their lives. When it comes to trivial things, it’s not so important - putting off joining the gym 🏋️ or cutting the grass 🍃, for example.
But there are some things that are just too important to put off — getting your car serviced 🔧 or going to the doctor 👩⚕️ for a check-up, for instance.
It just so happens that, when it comes to software products, localization is one of those things that is just too important to put off. As you’ll see in this article - delaying localization is a big mistake, and it can be very costly.
🤔 Why do software development teams delay localization? 🔗
Before we dive in and examine why delaying localization is such a big mistake, let’s first take a look at a few reasons why teams end up doing it.
- 👓 Lack of vision - Sometimes, it’s a simple case of a software team not planning ahead or believing that they won’t want to expand into new territories in the future.
- 😑 Ignorance - It may be the case that they simply don’t know that even within a single country of operation, there may be multiple languages spoken.
- 🔬 Single focus - This could also be described as being “blinkered.” In other words, the team is so focused on developing the functionality or features of the software that they neglect other important considerations, such as localization.
- 🧯 Too busy - Maybe the team has a backlog of work to clear from other projects, as well as developing the current one, and they simply don’t feel like they have the time to devote to localization.
- 🏰 Too old-school - Perhaps they are used to the traditional translation process - find an agency or freelancer and spend ages messaging or calling back and forth to get the work done. They see this as a big “time suck” and prefer to put it off until they have a “final” version and deal with it then.
Needless to say, all of these approaches are big mistakes. Why? Because they can lead to delays with the rollout of the product in lucrative overseas markets. In other words, by neglecting to give localization the attention it deserves, you may be leaving money on the table.
A good example is the mobile app Floating Apps which managed to grow to 7 million downloads once they translated and localized their content using Localazy.
⏰ Why should you start localization early? 🔗
The simple answer to this question is that localization is too important to leave it as an afterthought. But you probably want more information than that, right?! So, here are some more reasons to start localization early:
- ⏱️ Save time. Preparing for i18n early will help you to avoid the time-consuming task of post-string externalization and all the testing that goes with it. Strings evolve over time, and you never reach a “final state,” so the earlier you start, the less work you will have to do later on.
- 🔮 Market changes. Over time, potential foreign markets that are small now may grow. In other words, it may become profitable to sell products in an area with a different language. If you have prepared yourself for the possibility of localization early on, it will be easier to pivot your marketing efforts in a different direction.
- 🧘 Save effort. Applying a TMS like Localazy can save you a lot of hassle, and you can automate the process of translation delivery. However, it’s best to use a TMS early on in the development of your project, as it can be applied during the design stage to optimize your layouts and content for localization.
Learn how to incorporate localization in the design stage with the Localazy Figma plugin.
🕹️ How to get started with localization 🔗
OK, so now you know that it’s important to start planning and implementing localization early on in the project. The next question is how to go about doing it.
To help you in this area, we’ve put together a series of questions that you should answer and tasks to carry out to help you build a localization strategy that works.
1. Decide which countries to target first 🔗
The first step is to do some research and find out which countries and regions will be the most profitable places to focus your initial efforts.
Begin by analyzing any available data. Google Analytics, or your preferred website analytics platform, is the best place to start. Check out where most of your traffic is coming from and list the most popular ones.
To decide the order in which to target countries, you should look for those with the biggest audience or potential market, as these will be the most profitable. Also, if you sell physical products, then neighboring countries are best as the shipping costs will be lower.
2. Do you need to localize everything at once? 🔗
The next step is to decide on a roadmap or plan of action. In general, you will want to localize three main things - your product, your website, and your marketing materials. But most companies don’t have the time or budget to localize everything all at once unless you’re already a big, well-established brand.
Doing it gradually may be the best approach for you. Agile localization could be the key to success, which involves starting with translating the most important content (usually the product or website) then taking incremental steps to localize the rest.
3. Use custom landing pages that are localized 🔗
An agile localization approach could include the use of special landing pages rather than overhauling your entire website.
For instance, if you want to sell a product in France, but your website is in English, you can set up a single landing page for that specific product that is in French and aimed at the French market. You can set up paid ads that are also in French to drive traffic to that landing page.
4. Identify any risks associated with localization 🔗
Although localization can be highly profitable when done right, there are some risks that can arise in the process. The main downside of the risks are cost-related - in other words, you may end up spending money on localization that doesn’t work out as planned.
An example of a potential risk could be failed i18n support from the design and development side of your website (e.g. neglecting to carry out string externalization). Another example could be flawed market research and the potential market is not as big as expected.
5. Apply a comprehensive localization strategy 🔗
At this point, you may be tempted to think that localization is expensive, so why not just pour your budget into a machine translation engine and be done with it? This is a big mistake as quality matters - a lot. In fact, poorly executed localization can actually damage your sales.
6. Iron out all the technical details of localization 🔗
You need to get all the technical requirements in place, such as i18n preparations. This is highly specialist work, so your best bet is to enlist the services of localization experts such as Localazy.
A good approach is to think about the localization, and its technicalities, during the design stage. With Localazy, you can get a Figma plugin to help you with this and prepare everything you need for i18n. We also have a handy checklist to help you along the way.
Then all you need to do is choose a suitable integration and connect your project with Localazy to get the best possible localization results.
🚩 Why choose Localazy? 🔗
Localazy is the leading translation management system and localization service in one package available right now.
Localazy helps with localization by:
- Saving time
- Automating tasks with CI/CD tools
- Easily integrating with your software - CLI, API
- Making it easy to translate as you add new text or edit existing text
- Allowing an unlimited number of contributors, languages, and integrations
With Localazy’s pay-as-you-grow model, you can grow as slowly or rapidly as you like and still localize effectively. You can also order translations directly from the Continuous Localization Team at Localazy, enabling you to add languages iteratively as different markets present themselves.
One of the best things about Localazy is that you can get translation on autopilot. In other words, as you add or change the text in your app, our professional translators leap into action to translate it into the specified languages as quickly as possible. You can also get your marketing materials, app store descriptions, and meta content translated at the same time. The possibilities are endless.
Read our Getting Started Guide
✔️ Conclusion 🔗
To sum up - Localazy is a comprehensive localization and translation tool and service that makes it easy to prioritize localization without adding any extra work to your plate.