The general stance of software companies worldwide is not to compromise quality when it comes to their products. This sentiment also applies to language translation services, such as the video translation process, closed captioning, transcriptions, subtitling, dubbing, language translations, and perhaps most relevant, the area of software localization.
It is important to note that this focus on quality must fit within the company’s budget in question, and as always, for them, time is of the essence. As translations can drive sales, the question is then what steps can the company take to uphold its commitment to quality while ensuring that the translations work is done in a timely manner?
If you are reading this, I would assume you have already done the hard work, which is finding a translation partner or vendor to aid you throughout the translation process. This partner should have relevant experience with multimedia translation and transcription services.
You should ensure that your partner has done their due diligence to deliver high-quality translations, whether this diligence is related to finding the best resources or using the latest technology and completing all relevant and adequate process for providing high-quality translation. Even when you have everything in place, several issues can present themselves, such as feedback regarding translation issues with the original language and the product not being well received by native speakers/users.
To avoid some of the more common software localization issues, ensure that you avoid running into problems with the following:
- Internationalization: Internationalization describes designing a product so that it may be readily consumed across multiple countries. Software code not adapted to different languages, region-specific requirements (many software companies do not know about this) can be the main factor for problems.
- Segmentation: Segmentation in translation, is breaking a source text down into smaller units for translation. Incorrect segmentation of code strings can lead to bad translations.
- Terminology: Companies sometimes do not understand the need for correct terminology. Missing glossary or use of incorrect terminology can be an issue here.
- Machine-Translations – Machine Translation (MT) is an automated translation of text performed by a computer. It provides text translations based on computer algorithms without human involvement. This technology is often used to generate video subtitles with translation using machine learning. Companies opt for machine translation due to budget constraints. Unedited machine-translations in the Translation Memory (TM) need human oversight.
- Legacy Translation: A legacy translation can be defined as a previous provider’s translation (not your current partner). Unapproved or incorrect legacy translations can be an issue.
- Build Review: This is a process or meeting during which the translation is examined by project personnel, managers, users, customers, translation partners, or other interested parties for comment or approval. Here it can be that translations are not checked after implementing the software.
Following on from this, these are the best practices for Software Localization:
You first must choose between two approaches, which are localization from scratch or ongoing localization. Once you made your choice, there are several important considerations you must keep in mind.
- Internationalization i18n health check
I18n helps reduce time to market and reduces the need to rework (internationalization includes character sets like accents, regional settings like date, time currency, etc.)
- Terminology Management
Terminology/glossary creation must be the first step in software localization. Add any UI & keywords; get the terminology reviewed and finalized and work with translation partner to make this an ongoing activity, and remember to create a separate terminology database for different software products. Ensure that you maintain terminology master and create a process to mark obsolete or unapproved terms as per the updates in the content
- TM Management
Translations are stored in a database called translation memory which is then used for future translations. Ensure your translation partner creates a new TM for each software product. Keep master TM in an apt repository with proper version control. Create a process to perform TM clean-up as an ongoing activity and perform it at least every quarter.
- Testing of localized build – UI/UA
Good quality translations don’t mean successfully localized software.
Translation does not equal localization, and localization is only complete if the software is tested. (UI elements etc.) A review must be done after the translated text is imported into the software or help files. Translation checks are also required for incorrect/duplicate hotkeys, inconsistent UI, truncation, translations appearing incorrectly (when any content is translated, some issues can be present with the translations giving the end-user a feeling that the software is not developed for their language).
Your partner also needs software access and test plans/screenshots of each screen to test bugs or check and fix any potential issues. They also require access to the test server for cloud-based software and access to software installer or pre-requisite information needed for desktop-based software.
The second approach, ongoing localization, also has many considerations for you to keep in mind when considering software localization. The process here is more or less the same, but the sequence of the actions required has changed.
- Localised Build Review
If the legacy translations are already present, then it is advisable to perform this step. The process here is the same as it is in a new translation.
- Terminology Management
Your translation partner should take these steps. After the build review, you will get a list of inconsistent terminology and some new terms to add to the term list. Identify the terms that have multiple translations and blacklist any obsolete or unapproved terms. Review and finalize the terminology to be used as a master term list for all related projects.
- TM Clean-Up and Management
Implement the findings of the build review in the TMs using the final term list. Review the TMs for inconsistent terminology, inaccurate translations, duplicate translations for the same source, errors in 100% and above segments. Spot check the TM translations for any other issues; it’s an ongoing activity.
To conclude, here are some effective tips and tricks for quality software localization:
Confirm that segments are appearing correctly and not breaking into different segments. In the source text, check that the elements like hyperlinks, icons etc., appear correctly. If your partners or your preference is to use MT due to time and budget constraints, make sure to evaluate the MT output for quality outcomes. To expedite the build testing, we can recommend using tools like JIRA or Prudle’s P-L10N QA.
Watch the related webinar here: https://vimeo.com/522703426
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