Being local requires competence.

Opening up to new markets requires effectively localising your goods; the investment you spend in developing new country-specific releases will be compensated for many times over by new and returning consumers.

Most people’s first consideration when making a purchase is the product’s quality, which includes both the functionality it delivers and the way that functionality is presented to the user via user interfaces. As a result, nothing is more important than the calibre of the localization specialists engaged when localising your goods.

You should only collaborate with localization teams within the nation. This post explains why we do this and how it will help you.

Why local expertise is important

Let’s begin with an illustration. Would you work with a firm that claimed its “translators are highly seasoned and exceptionally observant of cultural essence” on your localization project? Maybe not.

This poorly worded statement—which is a genuine excerpt from a recent email we received—raises red flags right away. A localization vendor cannot provide high-quality localizations if they are unable to create their own marketing copy in simple English. They are also unlikely to be “perceptive to cultural essence.” In fact, it would be reasonable for you to assume that they are unable to translate your work using the best regional references or idioms. Ironically, our example vendor has acknowledged the necessity but hasn’t complied with it.

Localization teams working in-country are specialists; in addition to translating text into their mother tongue, they can translate idioms, visuals, and ideas into their local counterparts. Their translated sections will seem to be from a text that they are familiar with. To quickly receive the necessary technical knowledge, our local staff members make contact with governmental and other national bodies (such as standards committees).

The job of an expatriate translator, who has moved away from their nation of origin, is considerably unlike this. Such translators quickly get out of touch with emerging vocabulary, idioms, and slang.

Idioms, slang, and ever-evolving languages

Our localization teams can depict allusions or idioms in translation in the best way possible since they are familiar with their language. With the exception of simple step-by-step instructions, direct “word-for-word” translations never work because they lose the subtleties and meanings of the original language.

For instance, the English translation of the German phrase “Vieraugenprinzip” is “four-eyes principle.” However, such an interpretation would be incorrect. When speaking about subtleties, don’t forget that “four eyes” is English slang for people who wear spectacles. IT security experts use this German word to refer to “a degree of protection that needs two people to separately approve an activity.” It is a difficulty for the localizer to find an equivalent in other languages to the German word that reflects the idea of “security needing independent confirmation.” The person in charge of localization would have to be smart enough not to be fooled by how much this phrase looks like the German phrase “unter vier Augen,” which means “secret.”

There are 1,024 words in an image.

Graphics and other non-linguistic forms of communication are also covered by localization competence, which is not only limited to words. You put a lot of work into creating icons and other visual elements that make your goods easier for consumers to use. However, localization personnel that are not from the target area may not think of alternatives for your international markets. Consider the case of bats (the flying mammals, and not the sticks used in baseball). Although bats are considered lucky in Mandarin Chinese, Western Europeans who grew up watching vampire films may dread them and associate them with gothic horror. Based on your content and/or the icons you already have, experts in that country may be able to tell you what symbols and graphics are appropriate for their language.

Your localization service provider should always try to utilise the same translator for every project and every revision or release, except for our Translation Memory (TM) tools and our quality control practises (which use project-specific, customer-approved glossaries). By doing this, fresh texts within the framework of the previous translations are made available to these translators. This safety measure guarantees consistent product quality throughout all releases. Your goods will be translated accurately and consistently across product groups and releases in the same manner. If many different translation teams worked on your products and releases at different times, your customers would think that your products don’t match up.

Staying domestically cuts expenses in half.

Additional advantages, like flexibility and cost-effectiveness, are provided by in-country localization teams. Because we don’t retain large teams of in-house translators situated in one or more central locations, our total operational expenses are kept to a minimum. Of course, we provide these savings to you.

Herein lies one of the strange secrets of the language services sector: regardless of how well or poorly they serve you, most businesses must make a significant fixed investment in internal staff that must be made productive. In fact, companies might choose translators for your project based on their availability rather than their qualifications. You pay for that overhead and may get inferior translations in the bargain.

Goof localization service providers use the optimal number of appropriate experts to complete your project, but exceptional localization service providers also select them to minimise the time they need to complete the project.

Take, for example, a recent project where we localised some online help text. The content included resource strings used for an installation wizard. The in-country localization teams delivered the translated texts to the London-based project manager, who collated them and transmitted them to a software engineer in New Zealand. Due to the time difference, the software engineer was able to compile the help files and create the installation wizard while the rest of the team was off-duty, and return them to the linguistic QA teams for checking the very next morning (their time). This around-the-globe, around-the-clock capability expedites your projects and gets your products to market faster.

Consistency through project management

But it’s the project management skills we talked about above that make in-country localization teams more effective and give you the following benefits:

Repeatability: Whenever possible, we use the same project manager for all of your projects. The project manager has worked with the localization team before, so they know how to talk to each other to speed up your projects.

Central contact for all localization questions Imagine how much time could be wasted if several in-country localization teams noticed a mistake or inconsistency in the source text and they all queried it. Or if some did not notice it, causing their translation to be incorrect? Our project managers collate queries, get the answers from the person you nominate, and then pass them on to every team member, ensuring optimal efficiency with minimal cost and little chance of error.

Facilitated client/localization team communication: Localization is not a black-box discipline. It requires communication between all parties. Rubric project managers do more than simply ship client work to localization experts. Well trained project managers comb through both the mundane details—such as the terminology you want the localization teams to use—and also more subtle points,such as the impression you want the product to make in the localised languages (i.e., do you want localised texts to be snappy, with short, terse instructions that leave gaps, or do you want them to give details that “hold the user’s hand” while they take their first steps in using a computerised languages (i.e., do you want localised texts to be snappy, with short, terse instructions that leave gaps, or do you want them to give details that “hold the user’s hand” while they take their first steps in using a computer).

What it all means

Experienced project managers and in-country translators form teams of experts who guarantee that your localization projects run smoothly and efficiently, that localised texts are returned to you on time, and that their work contributes to the acceptance of your products. Above all, your customers in the target countries will enjoy high-quality products and documentation that truly suit their needs. It all adds up to a better localization experience from beginning to end.