The 5 Key Stages of the Localization Process
In the past, companies often localized content using spreadsheets and emails. As you can imagine, this resulted resulting in quite a lot of heavy lifting. Developers, translators, and localization managers were left manually going back-and-forth to get simple translations done. First, developers needed to copy and paste strings and source content into spreadsheets before sending it off to multiple translators. Then, translators would have to manually put their translations into the spreadsheet, which was then put through a tedious quality assurance process before being the translations were launched live on the site.
But, this is just one traditional translation option. With the evolution of translation management technology, localization platforms are a far more popular way of localizing content. Because they help save time and money, localization platforms are now used by companies of all sizes – from small businesses to enterprise SaaS – to save time and ensure quality translations.
However you decide to go about your translation management efforts, it is important to have a basic understanding of how the localization process works. In doing so, you can begin to make more informed decisions when building and executing your localization roadmap. To help you better navigate your translation management efforts, we’ve broken down the five key stages of the localization process.
1. Extract Resource Files
To start the localization process, you’ll need to extract your resource files for translation. Robust localization platforms support a variety of source file formats and you’ll be able to directly upload your resource files. In some cases, you’ll have to export your resource files into standard XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format) files or other localization file formats to make them suitable for translation into multiple languages.
If you are using a translation management system like Transifex, all you need to do is directly upload the resource files of your project into one of the supported resource file formats. The platform will automatically extract all your source strings and make them available for translation. If you are using GitHub, you can even integrate Transifex with your GitHub repository to automatically send new or untranslated strings directly into the translation management platform.
2. Select Translation Method(s)
When it comes to translating your content, it’s crucial to take the time to select the right translators for the job – ideally a native language speaker who has experience with translations. If you decide to use a localization platform, you’ll likely be provided with an integrated translation provider or you can invite translators of your choice from an outside translation agency. Whether through the platform or personal invite, your translators will have access to your source strings, can view them in the platform’s editor, and translate them appropriately and within the context of your content.
3. Review Translations
All translations must be reviewed for accuracy, language quality, terminology, and any other requirements of your software. The translators, based on feedback from you, a translation administrator, or project manager, must make any necessary modifications. More robust platforms like Transifex have built-in features for reviewing translations, as well as options to communicate with your translation team quickly and efficiently.
4. Copy Translated Files into Code Structure
After your translations are completed, you’ll need to copy the translated files into your code structure. Quality translation platforms will provide an option to pull the translated files that are ready for use into your application, as mentioned above. The next step is to import these translated files into your application and deploy your newly localized website or application with the completed translations.
5. Release Your Translated Content
At this point you may be asking, when is the localization process complete? Well, once you have made sure that your product is bug-free and sufficiently documented, your developers will announce a “string freeze” on your product. This means you can no longer change the code in a way that affects the source strings (except for specific improvements). The string freeze will allow translators to work on a stable set of strings and ensure adequate time is available to translate and review. Then, you can obtain the translation for all your target languages, compile them into your product … and release!
Ready, Set, Localize!
Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals of the localization process, you are well on your way to fully internationalizing your content. To help you navigate the entire localization process, you can find some more specific examples of each step of the localization process in our latest guide – Localization 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Software Localization. Download the guide to better understand how to localize your website and software, from start to finish.