Choosing your preferred translation vendor may seem like an easy task, but how do you know you’re going to get the right value for money? What are competitive rates for translation into Chinese, Japanese or French? How to negotiate volume discounts? Each translation agency is going to promise perfect translation along with proofreading, editing and another layer of review, but is it actually going to happen? How would you know? Among a number of things, you can ensure higher chance of success if translators are native speakers, based in the market you’re planning to expand to, familiar with your product, and with direct line of communication to your PMs or engineers in case they need additional context. You should also always have a “source of truth” to evaluate the quality of translation samples in each language – it could be your internal employees, customers, business partners or even social connections from international markets. Never, ever trust that translations you’re receiving are of great quality. When it comes to translation quality, trust is good, but control is better indispensable…
OK. So you’ve launched your localized software in new markets, but how do you ensure all further product development factors in translation? You definitely don’t want to maintain multiple versions of your product (the international versions lagging behind the English version). Continuous Localization (CL) is your answer. CL is an automated workflow integrated into your usual engineering development cycle, which allows for simultaneous release of all language versions without delays. Imagine your engineers code a new UI feature this week. Each new piece of UI text is automatically sent for translation as soon as the developer checks in the code. The text string travels directly to your translation agency and – without any manual intervention on your side – gets translated and comes back into your code repository within 24 hours. Developers are ready to cut out and release the new feature – in all required languages!
One of the key decisions about going global is choosing a dedicated localization platform – software designed for management and storage of translated content. Some companies decide to build this component on their own, but most mid-market firms are better off going with a ready-made solutions out there, like Smartling or Transifex – offering industry-standard features to handle your English content along with all translations. Tools like Translation Memory, Glossaries, automated translation checks, query channels, Style Guide or built-in Machine Translation greatly increase quality of your translated content, aminimize human errors during translation, and reduce overall translation cost as you keep translating new content.
Taking your product to global markets usually opens the question of support for non-English customers – how to provide a good level of care for your new Spanish or Japanese users without necessarily tripling your Customer Support staff. One way to accomplish that is to invest in a multilingual, self-service Help Center that can handle majority of your international customers’ needs. Similar to your product, an English-only knowledge base can be a part of your localization cycle. However, if your business requires live support, there are still many scalable options to choose from – starting with multilingual chat bots, real-time translations of customer messages, to outsourced multilingual call centers.
An easily overlooked aspect of going global is related to setting up internal processes which allow for automated (or semi-automated) handling of translation-related issues. How to QA all 10 localized versions of your app before each release? How to understand an i18n bug reported by your Chinese customer? What to do with a translation complaint from your Russian customer? How to fix an obvious error in translation spotted by an engineer? There are many potential post-translation issues that need to be addressed and tackling them without a predefined process usually results in increased customer wait-time, issues being dropped due to lack of responsibility, or reduced productivity of your staff trying to find a solution to a standard problem.