Localization as a “red pill": prescription and instructions for use

    So, the product release has taken place: critical bugs have been fixed, useful features have been added, the line to the first thousand users has been overcome. The developer begins to draw up a plan to conquer the world, and immediately confronts the choice: to develop “deep” (add new features) or “breadth” (attract new users)? The second point is not only advertising, but also the translation of the product into foreign languages.

    We will never know about a thousand cool applications and games, because their developers have chosen the “blue pill” - product development. Technology support and product development has already been developed. A “blue pill” is, to one degree or another, a beaten track: just take and do. And when it comes to the “red pill” and, in particular, about localization, it is not clear which side to take on. Misunderstanding breeds rejection. Is it time to remove uncertainty and reduce entropy?

    Usually, before the operation, the doctor tells the patient what will happen while he is under anesthesia: clarity gives confidence. Suppose you took a "red pill" - decided to localize. In this article, we , the Alconost localization company , will tell you what will happen to your body.product in the process of localization, we will answer questions that will certainly arise during localization, and we will go all the way from making a red pill to a decision - the result - a new language version of your application. Neo picks a red pill from the movie The Matrix

    1) When is the release expected?

    This is the first question that needs to be answered when thinking about localization. If you leave localization at the last moment, this may result in inaccuracies in the statement of the problem (some lines will be lost, something will be remembered at the last moment ...). There is another nuance: time limits will limit you in choosing a localization company. You will have to choose according to the criterion "who is faster" and not "who is better".

    It cannot be said that a “quick” result will be guaranteed to be unsatisfactory or that the deadlines will be disrupted. However, the risk of both the first and second when performing localization in emergency mode is much higher than when working at a quiet pace.

    In addition to the translation itself, be sure to consider the time for linguistic testing. This is a procedure in which the translator tests a localized product, corrects an inaccurate translation, reports on page layout errors, encoding problems, too long lines that do not fit in their designated places and other evil that is inevitable in any localization.

    When planning a release date for the new language version, take for granted the fact that some changes, replacement of lines, words change - will. And not because the translator is an idiot, but because the translator is not a telepath. Indeed, in localization, context is of great importance - the situation of the use of a word or phrase. Vocabulary accurate translation of phrases does not guarantee that the translation matches the context exactly. Thanks to linguistic testing, these inaccuracies will be identified and corrected.

    Then the updated lines are integrated into the application and the linguistic testing is repeated until an ideal result is achieved.

    2) What is the amount of work?

    The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems at first glance. The fact is that in addition to the "obvious" texts, a license agreement, instructions, FAQ, a promotional website, and an installation wizard may also need translation.

    You might not have noticed how your product has “grown” with thousands of text characters. Perhaps at the first stage you decide to translate not everything - postponing, for example, the translation of user reviews. In any case, collect all the texts that exist in the product (buttons, functions, error messages ...) and around it (help, FAQ, website ...), calculate their volume in characters with spaces, prioritize and then decide what exactly will be translated first.

    Without doing this work, you can approach localization with an erroneous idea of ​​its volume: “only 10 thousand characters, what to worry about, we will do everything in a week! ". An inaccurate preliminary estimate of the amount of work can knock you out of the schedule and lead to an unexpected budget increase.

    3) What language do you need to translate into?

    If you translate your product into a certain language for personal reasons (love of the language) or due to certain circumstances (a company from a certain country has expressed interest in your product, and you do localization specifically for it) - skip this item.

    If your goal is to make money on a product, it makes sense to think about which language version will bring the greatest return financially. If you yourself have not conducted research on this subject, pay attention to the report “Europeans and their Languages” published by the European Commission in 2012. We translated the most important of them into Russianbut if briefly and in the projection on localization issues, the essence is this: to enter the European market it is advisable to make several language versions in the main European languages ​​and promote them in countries where the largest number of inhabitants speak these languages. It is possible to add localizations to other languages, less popular, later if the economic feasibility of this will be confirmed by statistics and other weighty arguments.

    To enter markets other than European, you can take into account the number of Internet users for whom a particular language is their native language .

    Do not trust theorists? Learn the practical caseabout how the developer of the application for iOS increased the number of installations of his product by 7 times (!), translating keywords into several languages.

    If you ignore all sorts of nuances and give a recommendation to a spherical project in a vacuum, we would advise you to start by localizing the Russian-language product in English. The presence of the English version will simplify translations into other languages, including “exotic”, and will make the product accessible to those who have English as their second native language.

    4) What else, besides texts, needs translation?

    A separate headache for a developer who decides to localize is created by “drawn” texts: slogans on flash banners, inscriptions on illustrations. If your product is a game, then you have 99% of such “hidden texts”: inscriptions on game objects, signs on buildings in the game world, names on game catalogs. This problem is not critical if you foresee ways to solve it. You may need to puzzle the illustrator or animator so that they embed the translated texts in graphic files and ensure that unique graphics are loaded into each localized version.

    If your product is currently under development - make sure that the presence of such texts is documented, or if possible, discard the graphic design of names, inscriptions and slogans. Take note of this also if your product is already ready so that future updates do not complicate localization. And if inscriptions from graphic content need to be translated, be sure to indicate this when setting the task for the translator: make these words yourself in the text package sent to the localizers.

    If your game uses voice acting (voice of the announcer, remarks of characters), you must decide whether it will be translated. Localization of audio and video content is not an easy process. Selection of announcers (especially if you need to make character dubbing), recording, dubbing (if the announcer did not get into the mood and intonation), mixing and mastering - all this requires a lot of time and money.

    With a modest budget, a wise decision would be to refuse to re-sound in favor of subtitles.

    5) How can translators familiarize themselves with the product?

    Suppose you exported all texts from a product to a table or database. But a good translator is a meticulous translator: after all, it is not abstract phrases that are localized, but a specific product - with its own specifics, its color and its context. The simplest example is the word edit: even if you forget about the nuances of meaning (“edit” or “edit”), it is not clear without context whether this word is used as a verb or as a noun.

    The best option is to give translators constant and full access to the product: so that they themselves are users of the program (game, mobile application). If for some reason this is undesirable or impossible, it means providing a complete set of screenshots, and for games - shooting a video with the passage.

    If this is not done, the translator will be forced to blindly translate, which will increase the number of corrections that will need to be made to the translation at the stage of linguistic testing.

    6) How will users of localized versions be supported?

    You won’t believe it, but sometimes they think about it after the localization of the product is completed. Developer’s nightmare: the program was released in Chinese, but before the first payment in RMB, the support mail was flooded with dozens of letters with hieroglyphs. All this suggests that the grandiose plan to conquer the Chinese market did not start slightly the way it was intended.

    In such a situation, the “solve problems as they arise” strategy comes into force. There are always ways out. For example, there is our wonderful Nitro - fast online translationperformed by native speakers (you can translate the question from Chinese into Russian, write an answer in Russian and translate it into Chinese, and all this within a day - or even faster). In the end, there is an automated and free translation, and if you teach a support specialist to use it correctly , it will help to somehow solve the problems of Chinese users (at least you can let them know that their requests are not ignored, and provide support, if not technical, then moral).

    7) How often will the product be updated?

    Additions, improvements, patches - almost any changes in the starting version of the product will contain new lines. It’s best if the translation of both the starting version and the updates is done with the same hands: this will help to maintain uniformity and avoid mistakes (for example, when the same option is called by different names). To localize the product, it is advisable to find a permanent partner who knows how to do this , and who will care.

    I want to do everything myself!

    Turning to specialists is not the only opportunity to localize your product. You can try to translate the product with the help of the online community - that is, by crowdsourcing . An absolute plus of this method is the absence of direct financial investments. The minus follows from the plus: volunteers do not owe you anything. This means that the pace of their work is poorly amenable to adjustment, and a decent level of translation (as well as the fact of its successful completion at least sometime) is not guaranteed.

    If someone in the development team speaks a good enough foreign language and is enthusiastic, he can be visited by the idea to translate on his own. At this point, the project manager is best to direct the energy of the enthusiast in some other direction. Why? Localization by a programmer is the same as writing code by a linguist. Both programming and localization are specific crafts that require specialized education and require knowledge of specific working techniques. A professional localizer keeps in mind a lot of nuances , which not only the developer - just any normal person - would hardly think at all. We live in an age of specialization, and the cook should not rule the state: everyone should do his own thing.

    Alconost localization doctors who have chosen the “red pill” are invited to an appointment .

    About the author

    Alconost localizes applications, games and sites in 60 languages. Native translators, linguistic testing, cloud platform with API, continuous localization, project managers 24/7, any format of string resources.

    We also make advertising and training videos - for sites that sell, image, advertising, training, teasers, expliner, trailers for Google Play and the App Store.

    Read more: https://alconost.com

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