How to create content for multilingual software

CEO and founder of Lingohub. Envisioning a multilingual digital world. Email me if you have questions about how Lingohub can help you take your products global.

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7 Tips on how to create Content for multilingual Software

English has long been the single most widely used language in the digital world. Yet almost 54% of all online content is written in English, but it’s about to change. More and more companies realize the potential of localization and localized products are on the rise. One major pain point that still keeps business off localization is that translating content can be time consuming and costly. This is why I came with these 7 tips on content creation to accelerate time-to-market and reduce overhead.

How to create content for multilingual software

 

#1 Include Localization in the Content Creation Process from the very Beginning

Keep localization in mind from the very beginning of the content creation process. Low quality source texts are a common reason for poor translations which lead to higher costs as translations due to revision. Make sure to write global-ready content that is easy to translate into any language you want to support now or in the future:

  • Avoid long sentences. They are hard to understand for your target audience and translators too. Use short and catchy sentences with less than 30 words. They are more engaging!
  • Keep a wary eye on the tone of voice. Maintain your company’s tone of voice but don’t write in a chummy and casual tone because it’s mostly grammatically incorrect. Use clear language that avoids slang and focus on grammatically correct texts.

#2 Review your current Source Texts

Proofread existing and newly created content before you pass it on to your translator. Content review checks your source text for mistakes and typos. Otherwise mistakes will replicated and multiplied through translation, which will end up in poor translations, not satisfactory user experience, a heavy workload and additional costs to revise translations.

#3 Identify promising Languages for Translation

Use all accessible data to determine where your product’s users, website visitors and trial users come from. Identify high potential markets and exclude those that are too difficult to penetrate (because of legal issues or competition). Truly understanding your product, users and market position will help you to discover the language/s(s) relevant for your product.

Google assists you with powerful tools to track user behavior and analyze market potential. Make sure you don’t focus exclusively on these tools. Don’t get me wrong Google’s tools are a great aid, but bear in mind that Google is not that popular in every country. There might be interesting countries (especially in the Eastern world) out there preferring another popular search engine than Google.

Popular search engines by region

 

#4 Provide valuable Context Information

When it comes to localization and translation context is vital. Translators often have to work without assistance of context information. In this case they struggle to identify whether a single word is used as a noun or verb. Context can answer questions like that.

There are different ways to enable your translators to work in context:

  • Add comments, descriptions and screenshots. If you use a translation management tool like LingoHub that supports a comment function use it to provide additional information like explanations and screenshots.
  • Add comments right in your resource file. Developers can save valuable context information directly in the resource file. They can note for example that a specific text is used in a button to make it easier for the translators to choose the right translation. Translation management tools like LingoHub will include comments in resource files upon import to share them with translators.
  • Add terms to your Term Base. If you use specific terms in your corporate communication which are not to be translated or require a specific translation it’s best to add them to your Term Base. Typically a Term Base contains source texts (terms), translations (or a sign that a term shall remain in the source language) and an explanation or definition.

#5 Reuse Translations unless Content is completely new

Translation orders are charged by volume, hence reusing approved translations ultimately cuts translation costs. A translation memory system repurposes previous translations for current texts based on similarity. Exact matches (100% matches) can be reused without further adaption. Fuzzy matches (55% – 99% matches) are a great starting point to work out the final translation.

If content is all new, don’t start from scratch. Machine Translation provides translators with an initial phrase to work out high-quality translations. LingoHub’s Autofill function automates lots of translation work because it automatically fills up empty translations with suggestions from Machine Translators. Your translators then revise and refine these suggestion to create professional translations.

#6 Accelerate Translation with the right Tools

Centralized file management, file structuring, handling dynamic content are the main pain points developers and project managers face. Meanwhile translators aim to work out high-quality translations. Translation management tools like LingoHub come along with the latest tools to accelerate the localization process and minimize overhead.

Translation tools like Translation Memory, Term Base and quality checks are keepers of translations quality. Project managers and translators use them for terminology management and to maintain linguistic consistency.

#7 Test localized Software early and often

Integrating your software development and translation process allows you to share texts immediately and test localized software early and often. Integrate your code host repository and translation management tool to enable automatic text synchronization.

Source texts and final translations can be synchronized once they’re ready to speed up software testing for your localized product.

For the devs!
Helmut has recently published a holistic guide on how to integrate internationalization in GIT/SVN workflows. Give it a read!

Wrapping it up

Sooner or later businesses start to think about expansion and entering new markets. To succeed in today’s globalized world localization is vital. It adapts your product to specific local customer groups and accelerates user experience. These few tips on content creation will help you to save time and costs along the path to your localized product.

Ready to localize your product? Be sure to sign up for your free LingoHub trial and try it out for yourself.

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