When creating an application, you should always adhere to certain industry rules, e.g., the proper use of code documentation, company-specific rules, and many more. But what about rules for localization and writing? Are there any? Do you have a localization handbook, style guide, corporate identity rule book, or editorial guide? There are so many regulations regarding localization and writing that your head might spin. This blog post will introduce ten tips you should adhere to.

10 tips for localization from Lingohub

1. Do not assume localization is just translating your text segments

Keep in mind that localization (l10n) is not the same as translation (t9n). Just as a reminder, translation is the act of transferring text from one language into another. At the same time, localization is adapting a product for different markets to a different locale and cultural context. As a rule of thumb, content created in your native language is usually the easiest to localize, as you naturally and unconsciously enrich it with additional information. Still, you should never assume that everybody who speaks your source and target language can localize your text segments. Instead, ensure the translator knows your target audiences' local customs and traditions. If there are no translators at your company, Lingohub can help you.

You can always hire experts from Lingohub if you need to translate or proofread the project. Our linguists support over 40 languages, including French, German, Telugu, Chinese, etc., and different dialects. Order translations and track a result in the Lingohub UI without any additional tools for communication or payment.

translation order context

No less important is that linguists will get all possible context information from our side - style guides, project/segment description, term base, and quality checks rules so that you can be assured about their involvement in your project.

2. Do not hard-code numbers, dates, times, and currency

Avoid the hard-code for non-static objects like numbers, dates, measurements, currency, etc. Instead, use a library that formats data correctly in the respective target region. This way, your ISO-compliant source will be localized faster, either automatically or by translators. Also, take care of other figures in your content representing cultural nuances like the New Year date, measurement system, and position of signs like currency and separators.

The figures' localization could be challenging without the proper preparation.

3. Do not create images with text in them

Each region has its identity, cultural and traditional norms, and worldview. That's why image adaptation is a common practice during localization. Some signs, gestures, or even emojis can be comprehended in a completely different context from the original idea. In addition to that, remember that text length between your source and target languages can vary, so be sure to provide large enough images, just in case.

Text length also plays a role in other points we will overview below. Coordinate your actions with the team because the entire design concept could be substantially changed during localization - new color pallets, icons, and style.

4. Do not
split strings

Splitting strings can make your translator's job a nightmare. It happens because of the following few reasons: variables and different text styles within the string. With a "torn" text, translators must search for context more often and spend a lot of time understanding what the specific word means. Use placeholders within strings to avoid such ineffective time spending and possible issues with translation quality.

From our side, Lingohub will help your team to keep placeholders for source and target text uniformly. The quality checks features will inform the team that a placeholder is missed and the application will highlight it. Also, Lingohub got you covered for most split strings, though. We have implemented a workflow that groups text segments based on the key to avoid unnecessarily splitting.

quality checks

5. Do not forget to test your GUI, often

Interface testing during localization is critical to the entire process to avoid such situations as the following. You approved and imported your translated text segments. After release, all are shocked because half of the buttons are screwed in the German localization, some parts of the content are clipped, and generally, your product looks amateurish.

As IBM states in their Guidelines to design global solutions, text length can vary drastically, especially for short text segments. The table below illustrates IBM's findings:

No. of characters in English sourceAverage expansion
Up to 10200–300%
Over 70130%

With this information in mind, test the localized versions of your applications early and often. This rule is directly related to a previous suggestion, starting to separate images and texts, alongside remembering to leave enough space for lengthier text segments.

Interface testing could be a tedious and prolonged task. The team should manually transfer the translated segment to the appropriate part of the layout. Then after finding any issues, they should change the design or text and repeat the process. During all this, stakeholders could provide their vision of the product and new changes will cause the next edits, and so on and on. To stop these "circles of hell," the Lingohub team designed the Figma plugin that allows the transfer of text segments between your Lingohub organization and Figma in a few clicks.


Additional tip: for fast checking of the new language fitting, use the prefill function in combination with the Figma plugin. Automatically pre-translate your segments and push them into the layout. It will take minutes, but both the designing and translating teams will see the general situation.

6. Do not forget about right-to-left and top-to-bottom scripts

Right-to-left (RTL) and top-to-bottom (TTB) scripts are widespread worldwide. The audience, which uses RTL or TTB languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Kurdish, simplified and Traditional Chinese, Hangul, etc, is enormous. Creating products for these languages will allow you to enter entirely new markets but will require much effort.

Without proper planning for these languages and their script direction, you might find yourself in a pitfall of localization. It is, therefore, wise to keep RTL- and TTB scripts in mind while creating your application.

7. Do not forget about context, context, context

Translators are often tasked with translating ambiguous text segments. They usually only see text segments isolated and detached from the application. Therefore, it can be a challenge to localize the text segments without further context correctly. The banal word "run" in different contexts can mean managing, executing, operating, competing, etc.

With Lingohub, there are many ways to add context to your text segments:

  • context images,
  • segment descriptions,
  • entries description in the term base.
context image in the editor

Using described possibilities, your team will get all the needed information without additional research.

8. Do not forget about the Hamburg Comprehensibility Concept

Have you ever heard of the Hamburg Comprehensibility Concept? Chances are, you haven't. Hamburg not only features a beautiful view, but it is also where Langer, Schulz von Thun, and Tausch developed their comprehensibility concept*. The concept serves as a framework to assess text comprehensibility. With the Hamburg concept, four main categories are relevant for text comprehensibility:

  • Simplicity: Is the text easy to understand?
  • Structure: Is the text well-structured in arrangement and within the text?
  • Conciseness: Is the text concise enough without leaving facts out?
  • Stimulating additives: Are elements present that encourage the readers?

When looking at these four categories, texts can be graded on a scale from -2 to +2. For simplicity and structure, a +2 is the best score. However, a score between 0 and +1 is best for conciseness and stimulating additives. Short or overly long sentences, or too little or too many additives, are not enhancing the comprehensibility of texts.

If you want to deep-dive into comprehensibility concepts, Göpferich proposed additions to the Hamburg Comprehensibility Concept and published them in the Karlsruhe Comprehensibility Concept, which enhances the previously mentioned framework even further.

9. Do not forget about your target audiences

When creating an application, one is often only focused on all the functions the application must provide. Many details must be remembered and implemented. However, developing an application should always be user-centered. Therefore, make an effort to understand who your customers are.

Create portraits of your audiences and personas. If you are unfamiliar with personas, let us quickly give you a run down. Personas are archetypes of different users in your target audience. They represent multiple customers of yours and their life.

They include detailed descriptions of aspects of their everyday life, what they want to achieve, and how they handle certain situations. With personas, you are more connected to your target audiences. To be sure your conclusions are correct - test them via interviews, focus groups, polls, and A/B tests.

Use the style guide to provide an entire understanding of who your customers are for your team. With Lingohub, you can share all the needed information, like information about your business, the audience description, and the rules for the text (a grammatical person, type of vocabulary, formality, etc.)

10. Do not forget to use all translation tools at your disposal

In this article, we already mentioned the translation tools Lingohub offers. Utilizing them can help you boost your translation drastically, and the best part is these tools are at your disposal right now whether we are talking about the prefill function, fallback languages, or utilizing our professional translators to localize your content to more than 40 languages. Why not head to our blog post or help center to learn more about all available tools? With them, your localization projects will go smoother than ever.

Besides the tools like separate functions, Lingohub offers something much bigger:

  1. The complete overview and management of your localization process, from budgeting to progress tracking.
  2. You can smoothly embed the localization process into your continuous development and automate translation workflows.

Say goodbye to manual translation processes and hello to a more efficient and effective way of translating with Lingohub.

Let's wrap it up

We hope you have already incorporated some of the tips mentioned above into your localization workflow. In addition, these tips may inspire new ideas to improve your workflow. Since there are many potential obstacles in localization, having a dependable translation management system is essential. Have you considered using Lingohub? It's free for 14 days, and you can access all its features during the trial period. Have questions? Book a demo call with our team - we will gladly help you.

*References Langer, Inghard, Friedemann Schulz von Thun and Reinhard Tausch (1993). Sich verständlich ausdrücken. 5th ed. München, Basel: Ernst Reinhardt.

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