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Everything Product Managers Need to Know About Localization

Imagine developing an app that you think would become the next top-selling app on the market. The excitement overwhelms you as you rejoice in the completion of your app. But then you’re hit with a sudden realization: your app is only accessible for speakers of a certain language, which means that people who don’t speak the language will have no use for your app at all, and you’re missing out on a huge market share.

Localization means making your product available for a specific language, region, or culture by modifying and adapting certain aspects of your product to make it accessible internationally. Language is one of the biggest barriers for some people. Countries rely heavily on their native languages to communicate on a daily basis. But localization isn’t just about translations; it also includes the currencies, measurements, and conversions of numerical and date and time formats.

To make your product available internationally, you may work with your team and collaborate to come up with the best practices to localize your product. Before you proceed though, here are the things you and your product managers must know about localization:

Translation And Localization Are Different

These two nouns are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. The translation is only a single element in the localization process. System-generated translators may easily translate some words, but they may not always be accurate.

A bad translation is bad for business. You have probably seen articles about mistranslated signs in other countries, some of which are funny, while others make no sense at all. This is why businesses need to hire professionals for business translations as they have the skills and experience to accurately translate text from one language into another. They are aware of local customs and culture that may impact how a message is received.

A proper way of getting more accurate translations is through the use of a localization and translation management tool such as Lokalise. Tools like these enhance the translation process by taking into account the context, as opposed to focusing solely on a word, and having translators to assure the quality of translations.

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Build A Reliable Team

While you may think being your own team is enough, having a team you can rely on is more feasible, especially if you plan to localize your product. An ideal team for localization includes the developers, product managers, translators, and reviewers. Having a team coupled with a localization and translation management tool is sure to give you the best results.

Before fully releasing the product to the market, the product manager designates tasks to the team—including the translators. Once the translators provide the necessary translations, a reviewer criticizes the translations’ quality to see if native speakers can understand it. The reviewed translations are then sent back to the developer to incorporate the translations to the product.

As with any team, it’s best to work in harmony and communicate effectively. If you are working with a translator who works remotely, you need to have a communication tool that helps everyone understand their tasks and shows them updates on the latest version of the product.

Sensitivity To Cultural Requirements

People have different beliefs, and while something may be a normal activity to you, it could be a forbidden act to others. Just like how translations should fit the context in order to relay the intended information, your product should also be sensitive to a particular group’s beliefs. For example, one of your target markets does not allow women to show too much skin. To make your target audience feel respected, you have to make sure the designs, icons, texts, and other factors fit their culture while effectively showcasing your intended meaning.

If you can pull this off, the international market may applaud your product’s inclusivity and generate good reviews.

Flexibility Of Product Design

When you are considering localizing your product, you should be open to possible changes to your product’s design. Since texts will be translated for a wider reach, they often take up more space in the design. This is because some words or sentences can be about 30% longer when translated into another language.

You may also want to prevent putting texts on images, as this can be harder to translate. Using overlays is a much better choice. It’s also important to keep the source design assets so you can easily track and make changes if needed.

Another important thing to consider in the product design is local information. This includes the format used for the date, time, currencies, addresses, measurement systems, titles, and other noteworthy differences. You have to be aware of these differences and incorporate them into your product to apply it to the correct market.

Incorporate Localization During The Development Of Your Product

Some developers and product managers tend to finish the product first and think about localization as an afterthought. A better and more effective approach would be including localization while your product is being developed. Doing so helps you see the growth of your product in the international market better, compared to missing out on potential growth due to the lack of accessibility for other markets.

Releasing a localized product can also provide you with earlier feedback from certain markets on what they think you can add or improve on. This is beneficial as it gives you and your team an idea of what you can change for the betterment of the product.

Final Thoughts

Localization plays an important part in making your product an international success. It’s not enough for your product to be released solely in a language like English, as people around the world will favor products that appeal to their language and culture. Making consumers feel that a product is specifically tailored for their needs is a quality of a successfully localized product.

Once your product becomes available internationally, there’s a higher chance for people to purchase your product, leading to better sales. While the process of localization is long and quite costly, you are sure to get a good return of investment with a localized product. Your product becomes available internationally, and at the same time, if you get positive reviews on your product, your brand becomes more recognized. It’s hitting two birds with one stone!