When translating software, it is particularly important to pay attention to native language usages. Many linguistic services call this type of service localization or L10n. Mobile and Web-based programs represent some of the newest and most innovative software.
However, in order to compete globally, software vendors need to internationalize products. After all, writing up a beautiful piece of code that is optimized for native English speaking users, automatically removes over 50 percent of the software market from your potential customer base. Those for whom English is a second language have difficulty using software without a native language option. Localization is a necessary part of optimizing the User Experience. The "side effect" of doing so, is maximizing profits.
Why is localization important vs. basic text translation?
Localization takes into account colloquial terminology. Translation is often very literal. In fact, with "machine translation", the results are so literal as to be unusable in many instances. In one example, when a company tried to use machine translation for a restaurant sign, the result was an error message.
Not speaking the target language, the text for the error became the company's translation. Even traditional translation returns results that confuse locals. For example, when translating "Like father, like son," to Chinese, a translator might go literal, however, the more correct phrase would re-translate from Chinese as "Tigers do not breed dogs."
An expert translator who specializes in software localization will use the most correct translation and not a literal transliteration from language to language. A good example of how important that can be, even within the same language, is using 'flat' rather than 'apartment' when marketing real estate management software in the UK. That one word change can make the difference between a first page result on a search engine and a tenth page result.
Offer software in customers' native languages for optimum sales
Maximizing sale potential is all about providing a user-friendly software package that offers value to the customer. If developers do not make the product available in the customers' native language, they are unlikely to buy. Even skilled English speakers have trouble reading the language fluently, particularly if their native language uses a different alphabet.
Customers want easy to use and intuitive products. Software localization is a necessary step to achieve that. If developers don't rise to challenge, they stand to lose out on a huge percentage of the market. English may make up 70 percent of the software market today, but with "developing nations" increasing their Internet penetration every day, that is likely to change in the next years. Go native and deliver that great product your customers deserve.