Software is typically developed with English-speaking customers mind. However, if you want to reach international audience, your codebase needs to be adjusted to support other languages like Chinese, German, Spanish etc. UI strings need to be extracted into translatable files (YAML, JSON, .strings etc.), hardcoded text moved to bundles, fonts updated to support Asian, Cyrillic or Arabic scripts, date&time pickers coded using standard Unicode libraries, so that Nov 11th 2017 date looks like 2017年11月2日 in China and 11.2017 in Germany. Same goes for foreign currencies, plural forms, alphabetical sorting and many other aspects of internationalization, which are essential to make your product truly local — globally.
Expanding to international markets, you will quickly realize that things are not the same across the globe – ways of addressing users (Hello Tom vs. Dear Sir), appropriate language formality (German du Sie), meaning of colors (red for increasing stock price in China), alphabetical sorting (ABC vs. AĄB in Polish), text flow on the screen (right-to-left in Arabic), user interaction with the UI (hotspots, browsing vs. searching), not to mention cultural references to holidays, sports, food, daily activities, etc. Let’s just say the “casual and friendly” style of your app might simply be “offensive and rude” if you don’t adapt it during localization phase.
Brand & feature names localization
Your brand and feature names are very important for your commercial success and you want to make sure they are preserved in international versions of your product. At the same time, you want your feature names to be meaningful in countries like China or Russia, where users are unlikely to understand what a “Revenue Optimizer” or “SuperSearch” might stand for or what it does in the product… Such challenges are typically dealt with through careful research and development of an international branding strategy for each target market, which serves as guidance for translators when they translate content from your product.
You have probably put a lot of effort into using the right terminology in your product and keeping it consistent throughout all content. If your homepage is called “Overview” you want to refer to it as “overview” at all times. Similarly, when you enter international markets, your terminology needs to be right and it has to be used consistently. Your first step is to carefully compile a list of key product terms, translate it, and then vet with your customers or native speakers from the industry. Once the list (called a “glossary”) is ready, translators can refer to it and make sure international versions of your product are as professional as your English original.