What is Software localization?

March 5, 2024
8 minutes
What is Software localization?
Table of Contents

Software localization is extremely important for any software company that aims to increase the number of its users worldwide for its web or mobile application.

When a software company aims to expand into international markets, the question of how to reach a global target audience comes to the fore.

This process, known as software localization, can deliver impressive results and create new opportunities when executed correctly.

However, if not implemented properly, poor quality user interface (UI) which will eventually come as a result will drive customers away, leaving them with a poor experience.

In this guide, we'll cover the basics of software localization and how tech companies can lay the foundation for global expansion without any problems.

What is software localization?

What is software localization?

Software localization is the adaptation of a software product to the language, culture, preferences and regulations of the target market.

It is more complex than simply translating text and requires a comprehensive understanding of the target market's needs to create a successful user experience.

While translation is an important part of software localization, it relates only to written text. Localization, on the other hand, goes deeper and covers cultural sensitivities, formatting requirements, pricing rules, user interface design elements, and more.

A software company should include the following elements in line with the software localization:

• Software design elements including fonts, colors, images, menus and buttons

• Website content

• Legal information regarding data privacy or other regulations

• Date, number and currency formats

• The user's journey from purchase to use

• Payment methods and pricing

• Customer support options

• Device compatibility etc.

The goal of software localization is to create a software product that feels local to users in the target market.

Software Localization: 10 Basic Steps:

Let's go over the 10-step guide that will guide technology companies in starting their own localization processes:

Step 1: Research the target market

Step 1: Research the target market

Prior to moving into the localization process, you should conduct market research to learn about your new business geography. Understanding the cultural, economic  differences between your home market and your new market can determine the difference between success and failure.

For example, a software tool designed for the US market may need some adjustments to comply with GDPR regulations when entering the European Union (EU) market.

Step 2: Determine your target customer audience

Step 2: Determine your target customer audience

Acknowledging who you are targeting is key to a successful software localization process. Understanding customer needs should be considered in every decision you make when localizing your product. Ask yourself how your SaaS product can meet customers' needs and what features or design changes would provide benefit.

For example, Xero (accounting software) provides different features to its UK customers than to its Australian customers due to different regulations in each country. Regional versions of Xero vary in terms of payroll functionality, specifically to comply with relevant regional requirements.

Step 3: Create a local presence

Companies need to connect with local customers, whether through a physical office or a virtual presence in the target market. This isn't just a show of goodwill, but is an important way to collect feedback, gain a competitive advantage over local businesses, and build trust with potential customers.

For example, you can invest in local SEO work to ensure that your website is visible in local search engines.

Step 4: Adapt your software product to the market

Step 4: Adapt your software product to the market

This step is where the real software localization work begins. In this phase, you translate your product's user interface (UI) into the local language and adapt your features, pricing, and support options to meet local needs, preferences, and regulations.

For example, if you're making your app available in European Spanish, you'll need to:

• Translate all app or website content

• Use images that represent the target audience

• Set the product's currency to Euro

• Make sure the forms contain enough space to enter 2 last names (in the default format in Spain)

• Consult a GDPR lawyer to ensure your product complies with EU privacy regulations

Offer local payment systems etc.

Step 5: Test the market

Step 5: Test the market

Before fully embarking on expansion into international markets, running a pilot project or soft launch to test the market and gather feedback from local customers will help you achieve success.

You can create a welcome/landing page to gauge local interest, prior to localizing the whole website.

Step 6: Create a local work environment

Having a local team on the field is another important issue. Not only will it help you understand the target market and optimize product localization, but it can also lead marketing practices, recruitment campaigns, customer support and more.

For example, if your users in Germany have any issues with your product, having a German-speaking customer service team in the same time zone makes a big difference.

Step 7: Develop a local marketing strategy

Step 7: Develop a local marketing strategy

Using local marketing channels to reach your target customer base is the key to successful software localization. Depending on the target market, marketing factors may include local content marketing, paid advertising print media, and more.

Step 8: Work with local business partners

Since preferences vary from country to country, distribution, marketing, customer support, and even payment processing are key elements you need to consider as part of your software localization process.

Failure to develop relationships with local business partners and service providers can result in loss of business and time.

For example, open banking has become extremely popular in the UK and many companies are turning to these types of payment solutions to provide the best experience to their customers.

Step 9: Observe, test and never stop adapting

Software localization process does not end, even after localizing your product. You need to keep a close eye on customer feedback and market trends to continue optimizing your product and making adjustments to your marketing efforts.

Step 10: Optimize your processes

Finally, after you complete your software localization process, you should look for ways to optimize the system and make it easier to scale. Automating certain parts of the process, such as translation workflows, or investing in localization tools will save you time and money in the long run.

Maximize your expansion into international markets with software localization

Maximize your expansion into international markets with software localization

Software localization is essential to help you reach and engage international customers. You can achieve success when entering global markets without leaving any detail to chance, by following the steps outlined in this guide.

Having a clear plan on how to localize your product before launching it in any market and using the right tools can help you achieve quick wins while supporting long-term success. Contact us and get one step closer to effective localization.