Three Considerations for Localizing Right-to-Left Writing Systems

Magnifying Middle East on the World Globe

The right-to-left (RTL) writing system is most widely used in the Middle East. As the name suggests, writing of RTL scripts starts from the right of the page and continues towards the left. Popular RTL language scripts include Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and Urdu.

In general, Semitic languages, except for the Latin-written Maltese and the languages with the Ge’ez script, follow the RTL writing system. With an estimate of about 540 million native speakers, Arabic, Persian and Hebrew are the most widely used RTL writing systems in modern times. This writing system also includes top-to-bottom, right-to-left scripts such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, although they are now more commonly written left to right due to western influence.

E-commerce is a growing trend in the Middle East, with plenty more room for growth. According to Global Arab Network, e-commerce in Arab countries is projected to be worth more than $20 billion by 2020. This is a significant increase on $14 billion in 2014. Daily News Egypt states that the number of online buyers in the Middle East is expected to increase by 14% in 2016 because of a more prevalent use of the internet across the region. This provides a good opportunity for businesses to increase their reach via e-commerce in this fast-growing region.

Providing consumer content and services in the Middle East in the region is no easy task. Here are three aspects businesses should take into consideration when localizing content from left-to-right (LTR) to RTL writing systems:

#1 WEBSITE DESIGN, LAYOUT, AND CONTENT: To cater for audiences using RTL writing systems, the design, layout, and content of left-to-right (LTR) website content will need textual and stylistic changes to accommodate for Arabic characters and correct display of text and text alignment. RTL are visually very different from LTR scripts. Some translation tools may not accommodate bi-directional text; therefore, translators have to manually fix punctuation such as hyphens, forward slash, commas,  especially if using LTR translation tools. It is important to engage language specialists who have translation and linguistic experience and also have experience at working in these markets to get fully into the mind-set of potential customers.

#2 SOFTWARE: It can be difficult and complicated to work with RTL scripts when using the usual software optimized for LTR scripts in English-speaking countries. Many software used in English-speaking countries are not compatible with RTL scripts. It is important for businesses to be aware of the potential problems they may face, and obtain the correct versions of their software if needed. Some software may need reprogramming to display RTL text, allowing for Arabic characters in the display and UI and also reversing the layout of the screen so content is aligned to the right instead of the left.

#3 HEAVY RELIANCE ON CASH: Cash-on-delivery remains popular in many countries in the Middle East region. Buyers’ distrust towards online payments may become an obstacle to the growth of e-commerce. With cash-on-delivery, customers can change their minds and reject the delivered items. The heavy reliance on cash will remain an obstacle unless the customers are assured and told that they will be safe to do transactions online. This may impact the overall online payment and delivery system, including legal terms and conditions for the sale and return of goods for e-commerce sites serving this region.

It is not a case of simply translating content for RTL writing systems but looking at the overall business model and ensuring all activities have been localized for Middle Eastern markets and cultures. Neglecting the e-commerce websites while localizing and translating to RTL scripts may compromise the impact and functionality of the content, website and ultimately overall business.

When translating digital content to a RTL writing system, it is important to perform linguistic and functional testing on all localization projects to ensure sites deliver a smooth user experience and is culturally relevant to the target audience.

For RTL localization projects, it’s important to allow more time for project setup, integration and quality assurance and testing.

Cecilia Tang

Cecilia Tang is a member of the global marketing and sales support team at Welocalize.  

Monitor Content Usage To Determine Localization Quality Levels 

By Andrzej Poblocki, Globalization Architect at Veritas Technologies LLC 

andrzej-poblockiThe Evolution of Localization

The globalization and localization industry has evolved over many years. Teams no longer struggle to figure out how to translate a particular document, UI or website. There are countless tools, technology and processes that help with localization to the point that many of the non-creative tasks are now fully automated.

With the processes and teams in place, today’s challenge is to select the content that we need to prioritize, focusing on global customers’ needs and experiences. Localization cost, time and quality can be managed according to the specific content type.

Organizations know how to localize and have access to decent tools, technology and knowledgeable (though often small) teams; however, they are now faced with tons of content and different content types. With limited resources and budget, organizations can’t localize everything.

What Do We Focus On?

  • Cost – localize as much content as possible within budget?
  • Quality – deliver state of the art translations?
  • Time – publish all localized versions simultaneously with the source?

Balancing those three factors is not a trivial task, and yet, as we understand our customers better, we know that these three areas should be applied differently to different content types.

Content Types

There are many different content types, which will vary across organization and industry sector. For example, marketing, documentation, software UI, knowledge base (KB) and user generated content (UGC).

  • Marketing demands the highest quality. Any branded content requires in-context review and local office review (LOR) and in a lot of cases, projects go through transcreation rather than translation.
  • For documentation and software UI, translated segments have full linguistic review process.
  • For knowledge bases, pure MT can be applied with post-editing for the most popular content.
  • Network generated content or UGC is a rapidly growing and high volume source of content and requires a combination of translation automation and human translation skill.

What are the Localization Quality Levels?

  1. Don’t localize – leave it as is
  2. Use pure MT
  3. Post-edit MT output
  4. Human translation with review
  5. Transcreation

We don’t need to apply the highest level of quality for all content types. This approach allows us to balance the cost/quality/time triangle for different content types. Determining which content is consumed by users can help improve the globalization and localization process.

Rise of Big Data

img_3534Using big data analytics and telemetry, we can learn how users consume different types of content; which sites are users coming from? What did they click or download? How long did they spend on particular tasks or sites? With telemetry, you can figure out which content is in demand. Based on the customer reviews or interviews, you can determine what people are expecting from certain content and this can help set quality levels. For example, most people don’t expect social media to be linguistically accurate.

A lot of social media posts in the source language often contain abbreviations and slang, so there’s no point setting quality levels high for subsequent translated versions. For branded marketing content where quality is a priority, transcreation will be used based on data from particular markets to establish the extent of the differences from the source, often in English.

Where volume is high, we would focus on delivery time and cost of translation, and consider sacrificing some quality, for example, content like KB.

  1. Enable MT if there’s enough demand from non-English speaking regions.
  1. Identify the most requested articles, with some minimal threshold, in particular languages for post-editing.
  1. Anticipate that most popular English articles will also be required in other languages, so prepare post-edited version of those beforehand.

The level of quality applied, is based on the demand and popularity of the content.

What Will the Future Bring?

We should keep focusing on the global clients’ experience. Keep using data to better understand their needs and content journeys. Expect that language tools and MT will allow us to increase quality at a lower cost, while content volumes will keep growing. We have to expect new trends and technologies will affect (or disrupt) the localization industry: bigger demand on video content, Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality to name a few.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I am sure it will be interesting.

Andrzej Poblocki is Globalization Architect at Veritas Technologies LLC and was a featured panelist at Welocalize’s LocLeaders Forum 2016 in Montreal.

Andrzej Poblocki is a globalization architect at Veritas Technologies LLC who is passionate about delivering a software that will delight international customers. During his 13-year career in the globalization industry he has held various positions, starting in quality assurance then quickly moving to localization engineering, tools, internationalization and finally to the architect role where he is responsible for the globalization systems, processes and integrations as well as the internationalization architecture of the company’s products.


International Design and the Power of Localization

SCHUH locleadersStéphanie Schuh is a program manager at Microsoft and an international design specialist. She recently delivered key insights into design and localization at Welocalize’s LocLeaders Forum 2016 in Montreal as part of the session, “The Art and Science of Globalization.” This session was hosted by Huw Aveston, managing director of Adapt Worldwide, a Welocalize multilingual digital marketing agency. In this blog, Stéphanie highlights some of important considerations when bringing together design and user experience for products and services destined for global markets. 

Design is Emotion

Design is essential to products and user experiences. Every day, we experience and react to design without even realizing it. Have you ever approached a door that you were not sure if you had to push it or pull it, or that you pushed even though the sign said ‘pull’? Design is emotion, design triggers emotions. We can’t ignore design and companies are now paying more and more attention to it. Design should be an integral part of the globalization and localization process.

Words and Experiences

Localization is not just about words. Localization is about experiences. Localization is about how our international customers and users emotionally connect to the products and features they interact with around the world. Using the correct words and concepts are important, yet even the best translations in poorly designed experiences won’t have the impact we want them to have.

img_3541Ask yourself, which would you prefer to use; a well-designed and easy to use product with some awkward translation or wording or a poorly designed and not so easy to use product with excellent translation and wording? You might find yourself choosing experience over words. What is your emotional reaction when you can’t figure out how to use something? What is your emotional reaction when there is a typo or incorrect word? Which one is stronger, which one would drive you to make a purchase decision?

Localization is Design

Design is about inclusivity. It is inclusivity of all abilities and audiences, whether those abilities are speaking another language, reading Braille or navigating a UI in the sun wearing sunglasses. People speaking different languages and from different cultures experience the world differently. Are the products we localize designed to match their experiences? Are those audiences accounted for in the early designs?

img_3546Localization professionals have the unique opportunity and power to contribute international design improvements by reaching out, educating, and influencing designers to ensure products and user experiences are ready for the world.  Localization teams sit in different parts of organizations; however, they all have an opportunity, if not responsibility, to reach out to their designers to help them understand their international audiences and their many nuances.

It might seem like a big challenge, but localization and design have a lot to learn and benefit from each other. Reaching out to designers means that downstream issues can be prevented before anything gets coded. Early engagement with design helps development teams too, as they won’t have to fix issues that localization would normally bring to them when localization is only involved downstream.

Localization has so much more to bring to the production cycle than the language dimension. Localization can help shape the entire cultural experience of a product or feature. Our industry is changing, we have knowledge and expertise that can be used beyond our standard localization activities to help design relevant cultural differentiators.

Stéphanie Schuh, Program Manager, Microsoft




Localization Quality Must Focus on Creating Value

Interview with Mika Pehkonen, Documentation and Localization Manager at F-Secure Corporation

mikaMika Pehkonen is Documentation and Localization Manager at F-Secure Corporation. In this blog interview, Mika shares some of his key insights as a panelist at Welocalize LocLeaders Forum 2016 in Dublin. Mika was a featured guest and participated in discussion, Ensuring Optimum Localization Quality.

You manage global documentation and localization activities at F-Secure. What range of content types are you working with?

We localize everything – software, legal, user documentation, marketing and PR. Any content destined for a global audience. We’re a one-stop localization shop for our internal customers.

F-secure_logo_blackHow do you define quality as it relates to F-Secure’s localization activities?

Quality is what we do to get content to have the same impact on any localized market as it does in the original language market.

What affects quality?

The quality of the source content can have a big impact, if the source is bad, then it can be a struggle to get good value out of the localized versions. Some source materials are easier to create or some content will work in the source language but can go wrong in localized version. It’s important to get the source right and ideally developed with localization in mind. If the source isn’t meeting its objectives, then localized version won’t. You need happiness on all levels and outputs.

What do you do if your teams have feedback on the source content?

It depends on our internal customer. If it is software, we will go back to the original source creator and tell them that a particular aspect of the new software will not work in different languages. The translation teams have a good idea of what will translate and what won’t. Having a good dialogue between internal customer and the localization teams will prevent quality problems further down the line. The closer you are to the root cause, the more chance you have of fixing any problem. If there are problems at the in-country reviewer stage, then you’re way down the line and too late. Fix quality issues as close to the source as possible.

Sometimes, we’ll be proactive and add another step in the process in between source creation and translation. We’ll make some amendments and simplifications in the source, changing the English, then send it out for translation. We’re experts at localization so we know what will and won’t work in certain target countries.

Mika Quality PanelWho owns quality?

Everyone! But, whoever has the quality measurements in place, ultimately owns quality. The global marketing team may have measures in place for click thru rates on an online campaign. If Spanish is not performing as well as the English, then maybe that is down to the localization process or source content. If you own the measures and objectives, then you own quality.

What’s the key role of the LSP?

They’re part of the team and extension of F-Secure’s localization team. They bring expertise. You have to trust your LSP (language service provider) and give them equal amounts of freedom and confidence in what they do. There’s no point wasting time focusing on one tiny linguistic typo. The whole team must think of localization as a content creation process. We’ve moved away from a cost-per-word pricing to achieve content value, not translation point scoring on errors within rigid quality matrices.

If you have been with your LSP for a time, they will know your products, markets and content and be in a perfect position as expert advisor.

Do rigid quality measures kill creativity?

Absolutely.  Specific quality measures can be good at measuring quality on a large scale, for large pieces of content in terms of measuring and scoring typos and punctuation. But for certain types of content and localization activities, “over” quality processes will kill creativity. If you think about different types of music, for classically trained musicians playing a symphony, their range of creativity is less than in an average rock band. The rock band can create something new and cool and maybe improvise but you couldn’t do that if you were playing at a classical concert with a full orchestra. The audience would hate you! It’s the same with quality measures on certain types of content.

How do you implement a good quality system in place to keep everyone happy?

Keeping everyone happy is the ultimate goal, internal and external customers. But it can be hard to achieve all the time. The least stressful way with the best outcome is to build an automatic fix system that will catch errors automatically at the start, such as typos, grammatical and punctuation errors. The more you can remove at the start of the localization process, the more the translators and linguistic copywriters can focus on creating value as opposed to avoiding mistakes. You want to enable extra value and creativity with any localized version. That’s a good start to keeping everyone happy.

Interview by Louise Law, Welocalize Global Communications Manager

Localization and Collaboration to Enable Global Growth

A Welocalize and Avigilon Case Study

Avigilon_RGB[1]Avigilon Corporation, a trusted security solutions provider, required a scalable globalization strategy that centralized localization and translation activities to meet rapid global growth in demand for its products and manage high volumes of variable content. Avigilon wanted to work with a language service provider (LSP) large enough to manage a wide variety of content and high volumes, but also agile enough to grow with Avigilon and deliver a scalable solution to meet increasing global demand. Avigilon selected Welocalize, global leader in innovative translation and localization solutions.

As demand for Avigilon’s products exploded, the new team moved quickly. Avigilon and Welocalize centralized the flow of translation requests and technology, moving assets and processes onto Welocalize’s open-source translation management system (TMS), GlobalSight, and developing glossary maintenance programs and translation memories (TMs). A new localization program was put in place that could handle a wide range of content into up to 23 languages.

READ MORE: Avigilon and Welocalize Case Study

Services include:

  • Software Localization
  • Software QA and Testing through Welocalize Testing Lab in Portland, Oregon, USA
  • Localization and Testing of e-Learning & In-Classroom Training Materials for Avigilon’s Global Product Training Programs
  • Localization of Multimedia, including Dubbing and Subtitling of Audio and Video Content
  • Technical Documentation, Product Installation Guides, Software User Manuals & Product Datasheets
  • Sales & Marketing Collateral
  • Web Updates
  • MT & PEMT Support

Adapt Worldwide Transcreation Capabilities

Avigilon works with Welocalize’s multilingual digital marketing agency, Adapt Worldwide, to transcreate sales, marketing and product content, providing linguistic copy writing who are trained on Avigilon products. The Adapt Worldwide team develops fresh, digital content, whilst retaining the overall brand concepts and values for local markets.

“Avigilon’s localization strategy is to invest in the right content areas and target languages to improve Avigilon’s overall global performance and achieve global growth. We’re extremely satisfied with the results we have seen by bringing Welocalize on board as our strategic localization partner. The Welocalize team deliver world-class customer support and has increased our levels of localization maturity, resulting in a localization program that is used globally by many departments within Avigilon. It has been and continues to be an incredibly successful collaboration.” – Paula Hunter, Localization Manager, Avigilon.

To achieve global growth, you need localization and a strong collaboration with a global language service provider. Find out more about how Welocalize help Avigilon achieve global growth with a wide range of world-class, scalable localization solutions. Click here to read the full Avigilon and Welocalize Case Study.


Discussion of Software Localization and Testing with Derek McCann

Derek McCannDerek McCann is Chief Customer Officer for North America at Welocalize. Derek joined Welocalize last year from Microsoft where he worked for 23 years. His latest position at Microsoft was Senior Director Internationalization and Localization, holding senior responsibility for the Microsoft Windows localization program. In July 2015, Derek launched Microsoft Windows simultaneously in 110 languages. In this interview, Derek speaks with Welocalize Global Communications Manager, Louise Law, and shares some of his valuable insights into the world of software localization and testing.

What is the state of the global software market today?

There are a lot more companies involved in software production and development. It’s dawning on a lot of global companies that producing products that are locally relevant is key to success and competitive advantage. Simply localizing into small number of main languages is no longer enough. To be a quality and competitive software company, you have to launch in more languages. Breadth is driving the industry and software has to be ready for the world.

Customers are more demanding now because they have a lot of choices and options. The millennial generation will work with something and if they don’t like it, they’ll drop it and find something else similar. They have less allegiance. For software companies to differentiate themselves, they have to be present in many markets and this means worldwide products need thorough localization. Today’s digitally savvy software users want technology in their own language and demand an experience that meets their needs and culture – an experience that is locally relevant.

What are some of the challenges with software localization testing?

Timeliness and agility are top challenges. In the old days when you had big software launches every 2-3 years, there was time. Now, products are updated monthly, weekly and are constantly being worked on, with new features being sent out to users all the time. You must be agile in localization. Small packages of content released rapidly and continuously into the translation workflow is the new velocity in the technology space. Your localization QA and testing cycle, what we often refer to as validation, has to mirror that agility. All locales have to be tested and released simultaneously, for every feature and fix. Welocalize provides validation services for many large scale technology providers. It is essential to have validation and review a part of the overall workflow. Failure to validate is not an option.

Local relevance drives any software localization program; however, it doesn’t mean just linguistically translating software. It includes translation, cultures and other geopolitical factors. How is a product used in certain markets? Local laws and traditions will impact how a product is used. For example, if your software has purchase instruments and is processing financial transactions, then it has to be locally adapted to manage different credit cards and government regulations for certain territories.

Any font or display of text has to be considered. Is it right to left or left to right? Some complex scripts require further adaptation at localization. A lot of localization issues can be resolved at the development and engineering stage, before testing starts. Those who develop the original software need to make sure it presents in all fonts at the development stage. If it is destined for Asian markets, it needs to be able to present complex Asian characters.

Software functional and linguistic testing is not just about words. It should validate how the product is configured to cater for all local markets. A good software localization QA and testing program will fully understand world readiness scenarios and have regional insights on all users. Culture impacts how people think and use software.

How do software companies ensure the same levels of user satisfaction across all local markets?

Companies must understand how their products are being used in different markets. They must listen to the user voice. Users are unique and will use software in different ways, often depending on where they are based. Technology organizations need continual user insights to gather intelligent information, know how the product is being used and prioritize features. For example, is a feature not functioning properly or is it simply not designed appropriately for some local markets?

We are driving more and more social media listening and monitoring. The use of machine translation (MT) can help to understand feedback in all languages. Through MT and post-edited MT, you automate the translation workflow and keep user data flowing. Social media and forums contain invaluable user information that organizations can gather and react to. Customer insights are invaluable. They enable you to understand how your product is being used or if it is failing in certain areas. If Chinese users are mocking certain product features on a Chinese forum, then you need to understand what is being said and act accordingly.

How will global technology companies succeed in the future?

They will become learning organizations. Nothing stays the same in technology so you have to be agile, listen to your customers and constantly build that learning into your development, localization and test programs. As we learn, we can scale and automate and continually deliver the right customer experience to all local markets.

Welocalize provide validation services for testing and QA.  To learn more, visit

Multilingual QA and Testing for Learning and Multimedia Content

452217709Learning retention and impact is highly affected by the learner user experience with the content.  All localized learning content and software should go through rigorous quality assurance (QA) and testing to ensure content such as images, examples and metaphors are meaningful and appropriate for users for all target cultures. If learning content isn’t culturally appropriate, the learning experience will be impacted and the learner simply will not engage and knowledge retention suffers.

When multilingual learning content and software is tested, a series of processes are undertaken and multidisciplinary teams put localized learning content and software through exhaustive tests before content is released to the end-user. Learning content often contains a high volume of multimedia and interactive content – videos, audio, assessments, quizzes and animations. This type of content usually contains software and content elements that must be localized and put through QA testing to ensure it works and suits local cultures, from dialect and tone of voice through to digital classroom hand gestures.

Today, multinational organizations often use video and interactive content within and for introduction of learning and educational programs. To localize video and audio, appropriate actors and voice talents are evaluated and selected, depending on the target locales and specifications. The requirements can include accuracy of the script and adherence to pronunciation guides. This is the level of detail required to ensure localized content resonates with the intended local audiences. Adherence to voice specifications can include age, gender and other demographic detail. Selected voice talents must have the right pacing, diction and experience to make the appropriate choices regarding the interpretation of the script.

Localized output must meet stringent quality requirements and be put through localization QA and testing to ensure it meets the expected levels of quality. The two main areas of QA and testing are FUNCTIONAL and LINGUISTIC.


Functional quality ensures that the final localized products perform to the expectations, equivalent to the original source course material. A testing model will validate all courses prior to delivery, including assessments.  For certain learning content, bilingual testers perform functional testing based on some of the following validation criteria: page transitions, voice-over timing, format and layout, user data entry and user data capture, assessment model, for both branching and data capture.


Linguistic QA testing includes verification of language suitability and in-context review of localized content and software products (including UI). All translated content, including on screen text and voice script, is evaluated at multiple stages and reviewed by professional copy editors who ensure that linguistic and style requirements and standards are met. Linguistic sampling is completed throughout the testing process by independent reviewers to measure accuracy and quality standards.

How QA is measured and scored will be typically defined in a service level agreement with a language service provider. In the localization industry, the basis for quality measurement is often developed within the context of Quality Evaluation (QE) and the concepts of the Dynamic QE Framework designed through localization industry collaborative efforts such as TAUS and LISA quality models.

QA and testing is a crucial part of the learning software localization process and it is important to partner with a global language service provider to ensure all software and content meets user expectations in every local market.

Read how Welocalize partnered with Blackboard, a global provider of enterprise education software and learning management systems, to build a localization program to product a UI that truly feels like it is written for the student, no matter where the student is in the world. Click here to download case study.

Click here for more information on Welocalize QA & testing services.

Localization Software Testing Provides a Global Competitive Advantage

software testingIn the software localization world, we realize that multilingual quality assurance (QA) and testing is an important element of the overall globalization strategy for global technology brands. Adapting software and technology for local markets goes beyond translation accuracy and the focus is on user experience.

How do you ensure the user has the same accurate and enjoyable experience in all geographies while still retaining what is central and core to the product and company brand?

It is the role of the quality assurance (QA) and testing teams to decide what translation of all software components fits and is appropriate to the local market. Many technology companies see localization as a key differentiator and competitive advantage. Unfortunately, simply translating the UI and online help content, word for word, won’t provide a distinct benefit in a heavily competitive market. Each localized software experience must suit the individual user and fit in with the local culture and language. Developers and software manufacturers need to ask, what translation fits the local market better than others? What creates the best software experience for all users?

Technology companies seeking localization often compete with many other companies who provide a similar technology service. They need to ensure that the product speaks the same language and has the same culture as their users, wherever those users exist in the world.  In the software technology world, customers are often very vocal in  online forums and product review sites. If the localization process has resulted in a bad user experience, then tech-savvy customers will share their opinions at a global level, which ultimately damages the brand, affecting sales and revenue.

There are a number of trends emerging in the multilingual testing world. Companies seeking to localize their product have started to focus on accuracy, as well as emphasize “better” translations. The focus is no longer just to find the most accurate translation of  English source terms. In fact, a deviation from the English is desired for those cases in which the translation of the English seems foreign from a conceptual perspective. Historically, these “better” translations would have been classified as “preferential” translation changes. However, these preferential translation changes are the elements that distinguish an error-free translation from a translation and if it accepted by the market, as well as binding the user to that specific product of the client. This creates brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

A strong team of qualified and experienced testers must be native speakers and they must also get intimate with the product and brand. This enables multilingual test programs to take place across a number of platforms, with the end-user in mind. Both functional and linguistic testing must be viewed from a user experience perspective, not simply looking at individual text or string segments.

Localization quality assurance differs from language quality assurance.  Localization QA services range from functional and linguistic software testing to content validation, across all types of platforms, including: mobile, browsers, virtual, desktop and servers. Finding a vendor that has proven capabilities to staff and manage a secure and robust testing environment, both onsite or at a test lab, is critical in the process.  LQA should be documented and verifiable through reporting at each step to reduce error and increase accuracy of testing.

With tens of millions of software products, apps and new versions available to download every day, staying competitive and successful is a challenge. Using software localization to differentiate your applications in the global market is a smart strategy.  In the end, the goal is to create exceptional software user experiences at a local level that gain acceptance and promote a distinct competitive advantage.

Based in Portland, North America, Sven is Testing and QA Manager at Welocalize.

Learn more about our Testing and QA solutions here.

Importance of Emojis and Icons in Multilingual Software Testing

Laptops and Global Network IconThe trend for better localization and translation in software goes beyond words. We are seeing more and more companies producing web or mobile apps using graphics and emojis to represent messages to users. When localizing these apps, it needs to be ensured that these graphic representations of words, emotions are not offending users in other markets or regions of the world. It is equally important to make certain the graphic or symbol is understandable and makes sense in that region.

Visual communications are widely used on the Internet and for many, are standard tools for 21st century dialogue, instructions and communications. Many of the generation Y and Z are prolific users of seemingly universal and ambiguous emojis and symbols (especially emoticons in social media). Symbols used in software can be simplistic and deliver a stripped down message. Good for the lazy developer, bad for the local market. Heavy use of universal symbols can cause confusion and uncertainty when applied to a wide multicultural audience.

From a localization perspective, increasing use of graphics, including symbols, icons, images, emojis, can cleverly avoids problems. These challenges include text expansion, abbreviations or confusion with languages requiring left-right or right-left sequencing. Some basic software GUI components can be simplified for global audiences. For example, ON and OFF commands can be simplified to 1 or 0 or use of colors to represent actions, such as WHITE for OFF, BLUE for ON. No matter what global icons are used, they still need to be rigorously tested for the target local market to deliver accurate functionality and the best user experience. Images and symbols have to be tested and localized to suit individual cultures.

When a user navigates the user interface, or types in a message or search function, there are often emoji or icon options available. What do these images look like they’re doing to people who speak different languages and come from different cultures? For example, some common emojis or icons with “hands” in them often have the following meanings by American or English-speaking software designers:




One had, fingers extended, moving side to side – WAVING HELLO OR GOODBYE

Raised Hand / Palm – GAINING ATTENTION

In some cultures, these icons can have different or no meaning at all. They would not trigger the desired response, action or emotion in the user. For some learning content, getting the attention of the online teacher may require a “raised hand” palm icon. This could be mistaken for “stop” in certain cultures where raising the hand is not associated with the classroom environment.

At the Welocalize North America software testing facility in Portland, we work with a number of leading technology companies, providing linguistic and functional testing on a number of platforms. Optimizing the user experience is a key part of each testing program. One of the growing areas of potential issues has been testers flagging graphic representations that are seen to be “universal,” when they in fact do not suit all target regions. Of course, it takes an experienced functional and linguistic tester to work properly with these issues. This vetted and qualified tester must have experience with the tested product. Most importantly, they must know the language and be familiar with the local culture of the target audience.

Paying particular attention to symbols, icons, emojis in software is a growing area that requires experienced software testers and QA managers. Even a simple smiley face or thumbs up will not mean the same to the seven billion people living on this planet!



Based in Portland, North America, Sven Werner is Welocalize Testing and QA Manager.

Watch the video highlighting Sven and the Testing and QA Team by clicking here.


How to Test a Commercial Software Product for Global Launch

51499136_thumbnailThe software market is large and highly globalized. In 2015, Statista reports spending on enterprise software was around $310 billion. That same year, spending in the global information technology market amounted to $3,517 billion. The software industry is fast-moving and highly competitive, where demand is pushing us to the cloud with real-time and agile development cycles.

In order to compete in global markets and meet user expectations, software companies need to equally produce localized versions of systems and software quickly. To ensure optimum user experience in all language variants, localized software must go through rigorous functional and linguistic testing as part of the localization process. Testing is not just about linguistic accuracy in translation. The overall process ensures all product versions function meet local user expectations and deliver a consistent experience.

When embarking on any new software testing project, there are a number of activities needed to guarantee a successful product or version launch. Once you have your team of testing and quality assurance (QA) experts and bug hunters, along with an an established a suitable testing laboratory, there are a number of steps involved in the actual testing process that requires knowledge, experience and the right tools and timelines. These steps include:

  • DEFINE THE TESTING SCOPE: Define and document the scope of the program. What technologies will be tested? On what platforms and languages?
  • DEVELOP A TEST PLAN: This will address any test environment specifications, objectives, test case coverage, the scope of new and specific features and components, any procedures and communications.
  • TEST PLATFORM SET-UP: A test platform must be set-up for each locale, according to the plan.
  • CREATE TEST CASES: Test case development is based on the scope of new and specific features and components, which are available and required for localization quality assurance (QA) to validate. Test case development should cover some of the following aspects:
    • Verification of installer and uninstaller process
    • Verifying the user interface (UI) problems or any functional issues caused by localization
    • Verification of the consistency of localization of all documentation – online help, multimedia, interface resources
    • Check internationalization elements – character types, fonts, currency, data displayed correctly in the GUI
  • TESTING PROCESS: Software testing can take place on one or more agreed cycles, for waterfall and agile methodologies. Where the testing takes place is key, outsourced testing often takes place in a secure, highly controlled lab to ensure the right testing conditions are met for every client. Welocalize provides secure testing services in our labs in China and the US.
  • BUG AND FEEDBACK REPORT: Defects can be categorized as localization bugs or global and core bugs. Localization bugs are those bugs produced during the localization process and should be fixed during the process by the localization team. Global and core bugs are bugs which can be reproduced on multiple target language variants, often a possibility of coding error in the source. This should be fixed by the client’s software development team. Bug tracking and project management software is often used to create tasks, generate bug and activity reports.
  • REGRESSION TESTING: This is the process of testing changes and new features to make sure the older programming works with the new features. One or more regression and defect validation rounds are planned and executed for testing.
  • POSTMORTEM REPORT: Knowledge gained in the testing process must be collated and used for future development efforts. The postmortem report contains valuable information and recommendations that can be invaluable to other projects.

For more information on testing and bug-hunting in localization see Welocalize white paper, first published in Multilingual Magazine, “A Bug is a Bug in Any Language”.

Click here for more information on Welocalize Testing and QA Services.

Five Trends in How Global Software is Purchased and Consumed

The software market today is thriving. A colossal $600 billion is spent on enterprise software each year by businesses. Analysts have predicted this number will continue to rise. There are five notable trends in the globalization of the software market that are driving the global software industry, from mobile apps to the cloud. Here are the leading trends that are impacting the way we download and consume software.

Mobile Apps

Consumers cannot download enough apps. Between 2008 and 2015, more than 100 billion apps were downloaded from the Apple Store, with the mobile app market predicted to hit $63 billion by 2020. As more app stores for different devices and device manufactures, the market growth is expected to be exponential. According to Statista, there are now more apps downloaded for Google Play, with Apple in a close second, followed by Amazon, Microsoft and then Blackberry. As of July 2015, Android users were able to choose between 1.6 million apps. Apple’s App Store remained the second-largest app store with 1.5 million available apps. Mobile apps are also core to many marketers strategies for growing adoption and awareness of services and products. This monumental consumption of software can only reach it’s greatest potential when companies develop it for global audiences. As devices are used around the world, localization of mobile apps has become a growing part of capitalizing on software globalization.

The Cloud

Downloading vast amounts of software has been made possible by the growing use of cloud computer. The public cloud is considered open access and storage for people to save data from almost anywhere, including any software they have downloaded. A third-party provider delivers the cloud service over the Internet with either open access or paid services, typically by the minute or the hour. Consumers pay for the cycles, storage and bandwidth. The most common public cloud providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM/SoftLayer and Google Compute Engine. Research suggests that there is over 1 Exabyte (or 1024 Petabytes) of data stored in the cloud at this moment in time. With this technology consumers and corporations will be able to download a limitless amount of software without having to worry about running out of memory.

Agile Updates

One of the most staggering aspects about the software market is the speed at which it moves. New programs are released and updated at astonishing rates. If the software is global, these updates require additional steps in the process for localization, QA and testing. Programs like Flash Player for Windows, has been updated 17 times in 16 months. Software technology is moving so quickly that corporations are complaining of the need to constantly renew and update software licences, a problem that will remain until SaaS and online software users find easier ways to accept the new agility of software development. Today, companies have to adjust to purchasing new software and the constant updates. Software companies have to plan for new agile schedules and timelines that need to incorporate a software localization workflow.

Invest in Localization

Massive spending on technology is common across the entire world, lead by the highest spenders on software the US, followed by China, India and the UK. Again the app market follows suit, with over 155 countries having access to the Apple app store alone, without even considering Androids own app store Google Play. Localization of this software is crucial due to the sheer global presence of modern software. The importance of localization is further highlighted when analyzing the revenues of apps in foreign countries. Over 60% of apps downloaded in Korea are localized into the Korean language and culture, meaning only 40% downloaded are not. This is the same with Japan, Taiwan and China lying between 30% and 60% which have been localized, leaving very few downloaded which have not been localized. This isn’t a small portion of the market either as apps downloaded in Japan make up 10% of total iOS revenues. From this it can be seen localization is essential to breaking the East Asian market when introducing software and apps.

Agile Development

Due to the speed of modern industry, software needs to be localized constantly due to the fast nature of both the business and software environment, where new products are being created and integrated all the time. The speed of localization has to be completed at an even greater rate when considering the constant software updates. When evaluating the benefits of localizing software, it soon becomes clear that it is a worthwhile investment. After all, localization of software within the games industry has been done for years with great commercial success.

Welocalize specializes in all aspects of software localization, from device testing to mobile app localization.  A recent Welocalize survey of global brands suggests that demand for localization specialty services will continue to grow in 2016 based on the trends in mobile applications and agile development cycles.

Jonathan Dean

Welocalize Global Sales Support and Marketing Team Member

Seven Tips for Software Internationalization

Internationalization plays a large part in today’s ever globalizing world. Aligning to business outcomes, internationalization is vital in an organization’s global business planning related to both people and revenue. For the technology industry, internationalization is a core consideration for driving usage and adoption of many programs and apps, as it enables the user to interact with an application in their preferred language.

With most software delivered online, internationalization has moved from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” for many organization to compete. It is also an imperative for global operating companies with employees around the world that use proprietary software. The scale for which internationalization of software is done will always center around two important data points: the number of required languages and budgets.

Internationalizing the user interface needs careful and deliberate planning.  Working with user interface (UI) experts backed by a strong review and testing process will help ensure that you don’t alienate your intended user base.  There are some very basic considerations that need to be addressed for UI localization.  These include specialized requirements for data, such as numbers, dates, times, phone formats, text size, and the alignment of texts (left-right). Beyond the content, there are some creative and cultural adaptation considerations that can be more complex, including considerations for digital media, optimization, colors, images and use of symbols. Complexity grows even further today, as you must consider device types, browsers, multimedia and other hardware configurations in your internationalization plans.

Here are a few suggested best practices we have gathered for internationalizing software and the UI.

Support for Non-English Character Sets

All 8-bit character encoding must be supported, including non-Roman alphabets. This is key in enabling translation of a text from any language to another. Use generic data types and function prototypes. East Asian languages can be supported as long as they use either Unicode coding: either UTF-8 or UTF-16. Unicode is regarded as the standard code for most global writing systems and languages.

Create Code that is Not Dependent on Locale

Input of data should allow for variations in location, such as dates, times and currencies. Avoiding the use of hard-coded character constants, numeric constants, screen positions, filenames or pathnames that assume a particular language. Make sure developers don’t use concatenation in the source code. To save coding time, some developers join character strings end-to-end – they concentrate strings – this is known as concatenation and is not good practice if software is destined for localization.

Remember Punctuation Marks

Translation of punctuation marks like ellipses and colons have to be followed closely. For example with, Save As… in any translation, three dots have to be used to avoid errors in the localized version. The same applies for spaces. French uses a space before ? – a question mark. Most languages do not follow this style. Use acceptable punctuation styles for target languages.

Text Expansion, Abbreviations and Reuse

As well as translating the meaning, consideration must also be given to factors such as word and text length, so that the formatting is suitable for the language. As a general rule, Asian languages require less space than English, while European languages such as French and German require more space. German, known for its long, compound words, is on average 20% longer than English. Consideration must also be given to whether the language requires left-right or right-left sequencing. Arabic is probably the best known right-left read language, and this has led to many a confusion over the years, especially in the early years of the World Wide Web. For example in an early version of Arabia Online, a website intended for Western readers to learn about the Arab world, the site was originally laid out left-right. While not lacking in its authenticity, this obviously didn’t work in the areas of the world it was designed for and thus did not have the best outcome for the investment. For web developers, this means keeping the content and design separate in order to make possible future translation projects easier. Space should be provided for expansion or contraction depending on the language. Don’t reuse the same text but in a different context. This will create confusion at the translation stage. Remember that some abbreviations will not work when translated and other words must be used in place of the abbreviations (or avoided all together).

Internationalization for Mobile Apps

The mobile network is overtaking software delivery, and in some areas has already overtaken the desktop market in terms of user numbers. Internationalization for mobile web users is now essential. App developers have to ensure their app accepts user-generated text in any language, independent of the language of the user interface.

Use Universal Icons Where Possible

You are probably familiar with these already. The magnifying glass representing the search function, X for close and the house icon for the homepage are universally recognized symbols that ensure a page is understood wherever in the world it wishes to target. Even simple ON and OFF commands in the UI can be simplified for global audiences by using 1 or 0. Some user interfaces use colors to represent actions, white for OFF and green for ON.

Use a Localization Expert

To design software with language in mind, partner with localization experts who will advise on developing software destined for a global audience. As part of this consultation process, you can develop tailored guidebook with best practices and guidelines for developing international software.

The tips covered for user interface are also applicable to the planning for coding and software development.  As language can impact the user experience, it can also drives general satisfaction and usability. There are many key elements for consideration in internationalization of software starting from planning, through development, to testing and design.  Consider localization as part of the strategy from the beginning, as it will save you time and money long-term.

Further information on the latest changes in software localization can be found in a blog written for Welocalize by Loïc Dufresne de Virel, Localization Strategist at Intel Corporation, Disruptive Changes in Software Localization and their Impact.


Matthew is a member of the Welocalize global sales support and marketing team.

Click here for more information of Welocalize services in the technology sector.

Trends and Localization Techniques for Tech Startups

ThinkstockPhotos-160304837The tech startup market is currently booming. According to the New York Times, the number of tech startup “unicorns” valued at over $1 billion dollars or more is at least 143, a monumental increase from less than a dozen in 2010. The colossal $50 billion worth of venture money invested in 2014 is more than double the $23 billion figure invested in 2010. The market may cool down in the future; however, for now, Silicon Valley seems to be experiencing another boom. Significant technologies like wearables, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence are all attracting heavy investment. These investments center around “globalization” to reach the valuations. Globalization means localization for most of these startups.

Where is the money going? At present, $1 billion is being committed to wearable technology startup companies. Wearable technology is revolutionizing the health industry, with well-known global brands introducing technology such as activity tracking wristbands and eyewear. New startups are also developing new innovative technology, including headbands to detect brain injury, low profile patches to monitor vital signs and contact lenses which can monitor blood sugar levels. Wearables are becoming a fast growing trend among start-ups. By 2016 the wearable market is expected to gross almost $2 billion in revenues.

Another key trend in the startup market is the development of artificial intelligence (AI). With Intel buying startup Saffron AI, Apple purchasing VocalQ and Toyota investing $1 billion into an AI research company based in Silicon Valley, investing in the AI market is another growing trend for startups. This increase in interest is due to the belief that AI will be the next big thing for the technology market.

Wearables, IoT and artificial intelligence were discussed at the recent Localization World 29 event in Silicon Valley in the keynote presentation by Scott Amyx, How Wearables and IoT are Reshaping Customer Engagement.


Tech startups consist of a fairly immature globalization strategies built in fast moving and dynamic markets with big growth forecasts and backed by opportunistic investors. These companies are often very small teams with no marketing departments, human resource departments or sales teams – let alone localization teams. Due to high growth targets, speed is essential to these companies beating the competition and establishing themselves as a fully functioning business. Tech startups need to get their product to market as soon as possible to meet customer demand and get their offering into the hands of consumers before competitors.

In order to establish themselves quickly these companies have to expand internationally as soon as possible, launching in as many geographies as possible. This is not only to out maneuver competitors, it also is critical because the technology industry is now a global business. Software is naturally a global product, websites are global, content is global. If it can be found online, downloaded and distributed digitally using the cloud and Internet – it is global.

Translation and localization of these tech startup products have to be done quickly in order to match the speed at which the company is growing. Here are three tips when developing localization programs for tech startups:

  • ALIGN LOCALIZATION GOALS: It is important to align your localization goals with your wider corporate goals to achieve rapid global expansion. Keep them front and center to prevent them losing momentum and becoming side lined. Manage localization centrally because managing localization separately can result in duplication of efforts, wasting precious time.
  • CREATE EFFICIENCY: Nail the tactics and operations. Document the workflows that deliver the output you need when you need it. Define the key metrics, establish priorities in terms of content types and get the right people in place for the right content types. Be flexible. It is important a localization program is flexible and can easily scale to match the overall growth and changes taking place in the organization. Having processes in place provides a vital platform to execute on the corporate strategy and creates an ongoing process to manage consistently and properly. It also enables the localization program to gain the right visibility for key stakeholders and C-suite level management.
  • SELL, SELL, SELL: Understand and develop relationships with your internal customers and stakeholders to understand the global requirements. Make it easy for them to get localization services from a trusted provider. Set up shop within your company through intranet sites and meetings to promote your localization services by working with your partner to help get the word out and educate your language service buyers within the company.
  • KNOW YOUR GLOBAL AUDIENCE:  Whether you are launching a new AI tool, wearable technology or smart device, the key to reaching your global audience is to plan for globalization at the start. Software, mobile apps, websites, technical documentation, learning content, legal contracts, IP need language considerations. Building an enterprise with global potential from the beginning will help tech startups reach their greater potential, faster.

Overall, when considering the growth and trends of the technology startup market, it is important to consider the speed it takes to grow and succeed or fail. Localization providers like Welocalize work closely with tech startups to develop global growth plans, identifying key markets and putting in place the necessary steps and resources to achieve their rapid growth targets for more than 157 languages.


Jonathan is a member of the global sales support and marketing team at Welocalize.

Related Articles

Four Factors to Managing Localization for Fast Growth by Steve Maule, Welocalize Business Development Director

How to Promote Localization, by Karen Loughrey, Localization Manager at Optimizely


Localization and the Online Travel and Hospitality Industry

Welocalize Online Travel and Hospitality Industry ReportWelocalize has released a new report, Localization and the Online Travel and Hospitality Industry: Welocalize 2015 Report on Key Growth Areas,” which highlights four key areas of localization that drives successful globalization for online travel and hospitality companies.

Localization and translation when defining the customer experience within the online travel and hospitality sector. Travelers and experience-seekers have access to volumes of content, published daily, providing consumers with countless options in planning for their next adventure.

To be competitive, global marketers in the travel and hospitality industry must consider culturally adapting all forms of content and digital media to effectively reach the right audience, at the right time in their language of choice. If not, your potential consumer will go to where the content “speaks” to them.

Key areas covered in this report include:

  • Size of the online travel and hospitality market
  • Multimedia and text-to-speech localization
  • Machine Translation (MT) and post-edited MT
  • Software, Apps and Technical Documentation Localization
  • Localization of Search Engine Marketing, SEO and Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Welocalize has extensive experience at developing successful localization strategies in the online travel and hospitality sector and has number of global brand clients, including TripAdvisor, Louvre Hotels, Wizz Air and others.



If you would like to talk to a travel and hospitality localization expert, let’s connect!










Disruptive Changes in Software Localization and their Impact

By Loïc Dufresne de Virel, Localization Strategist at Intel Corporation

Loïc Dufresne de VirelIf you have been in the industry a long time, you probably remember the old way to estimate the cost of a software localization project running on Windows, ballpark $1/word, along with the usual discussions around content 90% complete, or even the notion of a UI freeze… You also know that today, this simplistic approach no longer applies as our environment has changed drastically. Here are a few thoughts about changes in software localization, and their potential impact.

Mobile and Agile

The wide adoption of agile methodologies for software development and the relative ease of deployment of software products and applications offering new features along with bug fixes have had a significant impact on the localization business. Time-to-market, the fast and constant need to quickly add new features to keep a growing user base engaged and entertained, seem to have taken precedence over “linguistic perfection.” We need to achieve an acceptable level of quality, certainly avoiding major mistakes (incorrect technical information, culturally offensive issues, severe mis-translation); however, it can no longer be justified to spend a few extra hours in translation or review in order to avoid three typos and add a missing period.

Meanwhile, mobile users who are looking for the latest snippets of useful data expect to find relevant content in their language, in an easy-to-consume format, and then they move on. Speed of execution needs to match the new and reduced “shelf-life” of the content, while minimum charges need to disappear in exchange maybe for a guaranteed minimum monthly volume. In this new world, the localization buyer becomes more interested in securing from his Language Service Provider (LSP) a minimal translation “bandwidth,” in terms of average monthly volume, with often a very aggressive SLA, and some assurances of quality, at a “fair” price of course.

Integration and Automation

For both the localization buyer and the LSP, this new normal requires more integration and automation than ever, which can only be achieved through a true partnership. Aggressive SLAs – we can perfectly envision a few hundred source words sent at 5:00 PM, with the expectation that translations into 20 or more languages will be delivered by 10:00 AM the next morning – can only be met using predefined rules and pre-established workflows. In this model, manual touch points need to be eliminated, or at least significantly reduced, on all sides, which requires planning, proper internationalization (a given that is sadly often overlooked), and a full integration between CMS and TMS. This becomes a major issue for the large localization buyers, as they often deal with multiple specialized CMS and need to deploy a complex infrastructure in order to facilitate an efficient localization flow; a never-ending challenge as the CMS environment keeps evolving rapidly.

For the buyer, continuous localization, resulting in a large increase in the number of smaller jobs they need to track, poses new problems, as it becomes quickly unbearable to spend even a few hours of administrative overhead (approval, reconciliation of quotes and invoices, payments, reporting, tracking of overdue jobs, eventual escalations) on each translation job, when the average cost of such job is barely $100. Human intervention needs to be limited to specific use cases, identified through advanced data analytics, while the majority of jobs flow automatically through a well-oiled machine. Are we all there today?  Certainly not, but enabling this model is the ultimate goal for most in-house localization teams.

User Experience

Why do we do all this? Because UX matters. There is no doubt that providing localized content to end-users is a big component of offering them a better user experience. While multiple studies show that non-English speaking Internet users spend more time on a translated page, even a machine-translated one than on an English one, the cost of providing content in local language is always part of an economic equation. Better analytics can allow us to make better investment decisions, thus controlling localization spending more efficiently.

IMG_7882We discussed the use of data and data analytics at the Welocalize LocLeaders Forum 2015 Silicon Valley and everyone was in agreement that key data points can be used to make localization decisions. Trained MT solutions can be used to lower the initial translation costs of a website while achieving quickly a good multilingual coverage, then a robust analysis of traffic data, coupled with some degree of A/B testing, could help refine the localization plan by investing a limited amount in post-editing or human translation of those pages that attract the most visits. Some companies use very sophisticated models to monetize web traffic, clicks, visits, etc., but at the end of the day, for most of us in the on-line or high-tech world, the big question is “how do we maximize the monetary value of a user over time?”

We are still running behind the elusive “cheaper, faster, and better” mantra. This time the best approach might not be to simply push the cost per word down by another cent. We need to focus on translating less, but more relevant, content, in a more efficient way, leveraging all available technology improvements (cloud, MT, integration, automation, predictive analysis) and reinvesting savings into supporting a broader and now well justified and prioritized set of languages, reaching a larger user base.

Localization buyers and LSPs need to adjust to this new, streamlined environment, and while certain aspects of their current organizations might become obsolete, new roles and responsibilities will emerge. And while we together move forward on the Localization-as-a-Service path, we also need to get ready for the next major transformation, where spoken interactions and conversational user interfaces will replace text, screens, and keyboard. The localization world is about to enter, in a way that is no longer limited to machine translation, the world of language models, NLP and algorithms.


Loïc Dufresne de Virel, Localization Strategist at Intel Corporation





Linguistic and Functional Software Testing for Global Technology

In order to compete in global markets, technology firms need to produce localized versions of systems and application software. Key aspects of a successful software localization strategy must include all aspects of the programming language content, including software user interface (UI) and software strings, feature updates, patches, online help and support documentation. Testing and QA are critical for localization of any software. The strategy must also consider the way the software is accessed, such as SaaS, mobile, installed, through customer hardware and the development cycle, waterfall or agile.

To ensure the user experience in all language versions is consistent, meets local user expectations demonstrates correct functionality on all platforms, all products have to go through rigorous functional and linguistic testing as part of the localization process. Both managed testing approaches are important to the overall product development cycle and can reveal a number of different flaws in localized versions of the software.

Testing is not just about the quality or correctness of the translation. It is about ensuring all localized product versions meet local user expectations and correct functionality.

For any kind of software testing, the testing team needs full access to the source product and all the localized versions for all target devices and hardware. Access to the original software developer’s kit (SDK) is also helpful to trigger certain functions on the devices to properly test the product. To conduct a successful testing cycle, you need a team of experts with in-depth knowledge of the product and any testing software that will help the process. These experts need the right secure laboratory environment to test the product, pinpoint specific strings and fix bugs.


When you perform linguistic testing on localized versions of software, you are checking to see that any text that appears in the user interface is correct. Any tester involved in the linguistic testing process should be a native speaker of the target language and very familiar with the product itself for all platforms and devices. Linguistic testing can pick up a variety of bugs. It is designed to identify missing translated text, text that has remained in the source language,  bad translations, translated text that has been cut off or incorrectly wrapped to the next line and inconsistent use of translated terminology throughout a software product. If flaws are identified in the locale versions, then any fixes must be applied throughout all touch points. For example, if UI screen shots have been used in online help documentation or marketing campaign materials and a UI has been altered or fixed, these screenshots must be refreshed in all communications.


To run any functional and device testing program, you have to engage specially trained testers to create and run test scripts through the designated software devices to ensure the localization process has not impaired functionality and that the localized product works consistently with the various operating systems and designated third party products and applications. As well as a team of expert testers, engage a testing manager who can create a tailored functional test case which uses knowledge of all software associate with each device. Functional tests must be run on all target platforms: mobile, browsers, desktops and servers. The testers follow prescribed testing scripts to thoroughly go through all aspects of functionality on the software. Testers will focus on the software itself and whether it is still compatible with all operating systems and third party products in all target locales.

Another key component for any testing cycle is to capture the metrics on all aspects of the testing work. This facilitates understanding of true progress and results against a set of defined criteria and targets.

Successful software testing requires an experienced testing team and first-class laboratory facilities to ensure all testing is carried out in a secure and confidential way. Welocalize has three dedicated and secure testing laboratories. Welocalize’s primary testing lab is located in Portland, Oregon in the US.  They provide 70 simultaneous testing stations, supporting more than 70 languages. The team in Portland provides test management, engineering and project management services to a number of global technology clients. Welocalize has secondary secure software testing and QA labs located in Beijing, China and San Mateo, California, with plans to establish more physical testing sites in 2015.

In addition to finding an experts with the right facilities, it is essential that technology companies work with a vetted partner that aligns to “center of excellence” testing best practices. Evoke Technologies noted in Software Testing Trends 2015 that most of the organizations are allocating more than 40 percent of their IT budget towards quality assurance and software testing domains. An experienced software localization testing and QA provider will work with technology providers to define methods to optimize costs and create scale for growth and efficiency. Expertise is critical.

Click here for more information on Welocalize testing solutions.  Watch a video that highlights our multilingual testing laboratory in Portland, Oregon:

Welocalize Portland Multilingual Testing Lab Services from doing things differently on Vimeo.

Louise is Global Communications Manager at Welocalize.

Translating ERP Software and Content for Oil and Gas

ThinkstockPhotos-466311504Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is used as essential business management software in the oil and gas industry.  It is a suite of integrated applications, that large multinational enterprises use to collect, store, manage and interpret data.

Due to high levels of investment, capital and supply chain complexities, many companies in the oil and gas industry deploy ERP systems to effectively manage their day-to-day business. The overall process to discover, extract and deliver energy is complex and requires robust ERP software to ensure smarter project management, procurement and supplier management to achieve operation efficiency, control costs and improve capital planning.

ERP implementations in the energy sector tend to happen across many geographies and suppliers, which requires translation and localization in multiple languages for the both content and software.

Large ERP providers like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite and IFS will often employ translators to produce localized versions of software.  End-clients and ERP providers also partner with language services providers to help produce local language versions of software strings, technical documentation, managed content, training courses and online help. For each ERP deployment in any sector, there will be elements of customization and this will generate demand for multilingual content.

For a large oil and gas company, one platform can coordinate planning, development and operation of complex capital intensive programs and assets across a full range of regulators, resource owners, investors, partner suppliers and energy consumers. As use of ERP software increases in the oil and gas industry, so does the demand for localization. Big data software systems help oil and gas companies optimize the full life cycle of operations that enable further development of global energy resources.

There are some key considerations for any ERP localization program in the oil and gas sector:

  1. Local Compliance Regulations. For each geography or oil field, local compliance regulations must be met. This may mean issuing contracts, reports and certifications and these need to be in the local language. For tax purposes, financial reports have to be produced in the local language of the country. This means any ERP reporting modules must be able to generate reports in the relevant local languages. This is a key consideration when deciding which languages and which ERP modules are to be translated for a global user base.
  2. Internationalization Factors. Any ERP implementation across international barriers will need much product internationalization. This takes into consideration factors like time zones, calendars and character sets which all need to be set at a local level.
  3. Deployment Period. Global ERP deployment can take from one to three years to complete. If there is ongoing translation and localization requirements, oil and gas companies must partner with a reliable, global language service provider (LSP) who has experience in ERP deployments in this industry sector and who can scale up when required and help drive the localization program in the long-term.
  4. Language Resources and Subject Matter Expertise. As with any specialized subject in localization, subject matter expertise (SME) is crucial. ERP localization and translation is specialized and knowledge of ERP for oil and gas companies is even more specialized. Any LSP in the energy sector must be able to demonstrate an established network of translators who have subject matter expertise and can deal with such a complex topic of software localization.
  5. Technical Support Documentation. Many suppliers within the oil and gas industry employ an international staff, who may all speak different languages. If ERP systems break down on an oil rig or platform, the software user interface and online help have to be compatible with the user’s native language.
  6. Training. Customization, practices, process and usage of ERP software and content usually require multilingual applications.  This is important with implementation, updates and new user materials.  Retention of content is much higher when presented in the user’s native language.  The ability to manage a global workforce, using a global system requires global content.

Implementing an ERP system within the oil and gas industry can be a complex project involving many third parties and high levels of investment. Companies need industry-specific localization solutions with an LSP partner who has extensive knowledge and experience of ERP localization.

Global Communications Manager at Welocalize

For more information on Welocalize localization solutions for the Oil and Gas sector, click here.

Crowdsourcing for Software Localization

GettyImages_164455698Leveraging the power of the crowd to provide translation is an increasingly popular way to satisfy some organization’s translation and localization requirements for different content types such as user generated content (UGC).

This can also apply to some content associated to software. With global software products, there is quite often a wealth of associated lower impact content such as blogs, wikis, knowledge bases, user forums and other less formal content types that may qualify for crowdsourcing translation. Some of these content types are published by the software companies themselves, some content is published by the users and developer community.

Social media can also be very active around the software community with forums discussing and reviewing new product features. Quite often, this content falls outside of the main software localization program, where there is greater emphasis on the higher impact content like UI strings, product literature, support and marketing materials.

One way companies are addressing the real-time translation for high volume content types is with the power of the global crowd. It can help with product adoption, around-the-clock translation in real-time, market expansion and user experience.  As Joaquin Soler, Welocalize Vice President of Supply Chain at Welocalize, wrote in his blog, What is Crowdsourcing?,Crowdsourcing has become an iconic concept of the new collaborative, truly global economy.”

In the world of software localization, crowdsourcing is more frequently used for supporting material and content types. The question some are asking now, can crowdsourcing be used to localize the product itself? The world’s largest wiki, Wikipedia, uses crowdsourcing to create and translate the articles; however,  it is the user generated content (UGC) that is crowdsourced and not the product itself.

For open-source software, crowdsourcing is being used to localize the product. Mozilla is an example where software development takes place using the crowd. 40% of Mozilla’s work, from coding to brand development, is completed by volunteers or as we would refer to as a crowd.

Mozilla has an array of localized software. Mozilla Firefox is one of the most localized web browsers with 90 languages localized in its latest release. Mozilla Firefox is an open source application and the company has a global team of volunteer translators who use web-based localization tools like Pontoon, Verbatim and Narro to input and localize the product. Mozilla has extensive resources online informing their volunteer “localizers” on patching localization bugs, writing localization code and how to use their web-based localization tools. Mozilla frequently uses external talent pools who donate their time and skills to assist localization and product development.

For commercial and licensed software, there are notable risks when using the crowd for product localization — primarily with challenges related to quality.  Beyond usability, a failure to accurately translate a string could actually create a product launch failure in a certain language or software bug that would disable users completely.

No software company can afford to risk a new release based on a badly translated line of code. In fact, it would be unheard of for most global software enterprises to directly release software post-crowd translation.  Volunteers may be used to translate aspects of the product code; however, there are several follow-up steps that in a proven software localization workflow to get a product market-ready. The code doesn’t just need translating, it also requires rigorous testing, quality assurance and engineering to confirm all linguistic applications are accurate and secure. This level of quality and expertise are not easily applied to a crowd situation.

The power of the crowd, when managed correctly, can be of tremendous value and benefit.  The role of crowdsourcing in software localization is far more successful for supporting content, like UGC, wikis, forums and social media, rather than the product itself.

What are your opinions on crowdsourcing for software localization?

Lean Start-Ups Software Development and Localization

484762567Are Lean Start-Ups the Next Big Thing in Software Development and Localization? Mika Pehkonen is Documentation and Localization Manager at the global security software company F-Secure. Based in Finland, Mika has over 15 years of experience in localization and software and is a frequent speaker at industry events. In this blog interview, Mika speaks to Welocalize’s Louise Law about a new trend in software development using lean start-ups in software development and how this impacts localization.

What are some of the up and coming trends in software development?

Some software companies are embracing the concept of establishing lean start-up groups, within the organization to help product development.  The lean start-up movement has not gone completely mainstream; however, for some and F-Secure included, they are seeing real benefits of this new approach to development.

What is a lean start-up and how does a lean start-up development team work?

A lean start-up is a methodology for faster, more targeted product and business development. As a software development model, it involves a small team with cross functional abilities, working to further develop software outside of the usual restrictions. The approach promotes an environment where teams are working outside of the conventional day to day business.

Why does this approach suit software development?

There’s less bureaucracy involved for the team as lean start-ups engage in quick, responsive development to meet customer demand– quicker than agile development. This approach takes on board more customer feedback and the team tends to make more radical changes to the product. Feedback on one element of the product could result in the team reworking that entire feature rather than just fixing it. It’s not dissimilar to the agile method of software development, where agile may work in weekly sprints, a lean start-up development team may do multiple developments a day.

What is the difference to some more traditional development approaches?

Applying the lean start-up model to a development team is another step further away from stealth development where everything was developed in secret, with long product cycles and defined parameters, typically using a waterfall approach. These days, speed and customer feedback matters most. Constant feedback and updates yields better results than long development cycles and releases.

If you have a lean-start up team working on your software, they will be rapidly assembling product, gather customers input using social media, revising the product, release and the cycle starts all over again. Small adjustments to product are iterations and more substantial ones are known as pivots. Using data from the product itself and its download rates, the team can assess the success and failure of any incremental change. For example, do downloads increase if we make this change?

The lean start-up approach uses more data and matrices to advance product development help speed up the process to get more benefits to the customer. For most software customers, they demand surprises; they want to be entertained with more and more functionality and tweaks to the product. We must deliver at the rate they demand.

Is it similar to agile development?

The lean start-up approach takes some of the practices we apply in agile development and takes it one step further. With a lean start-up team, there is a small, independent team which could consist of product developers, designers and marketers – possibly all in the same room. You can make changes fast because everyone is within shouting distance.

If software companies are using lean-start up practices, how does this effect localization?

The localization cycles we use are still one week. We run agile localization cycles with Welocalize. As we introduce a lean start-up approach, the localization team has to work with the development team, not after they have made changes – it’s too late then. The localization team can work on the software and also get documentation involved right at the beginning. Having a lean team means the marketing person is close to the development manager so different content types are more coordinated. If you sim-ship, you get one more pivot point for every language you ship to. Localization-wise, with lean start-up approach, we’re still shipping all target languages on time and it is still achievable to sim-ship even on the smaller, more frequent releases. You could only use the lean start-up approach if you use a MLV – if you used SLVs or just freelancers, you would fail pretty fast. See Welocalize F-Secure case study Predictable + Consistent Software Localization.

Have you experienced any challenges with a lean start-up approach in localization?

As it is a relatively new concept, getting everyone aligned and use to localizing at that pace can be a challenge. Technical documentation and instructions are often marketing driven which needs translating incrementally, just like the code. Even for marketing content in an agile environment, you need weekly sprints and that means changing some current processes and expectations. For a lean start-up model, the marketing materials have to be as responsive as the localized product.

I’d say within a year, a lot more companies will be using this lean start-up approach.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to anyone involved in global software development?

Start localization as soon as possible! When you’re developing smaller, faster and responsive updates, the process is moving so fast, you can’t afford to keep going back for localization purposes and adding languages. Being proactive helps you hit targets and save money. If you want to add languages, it could take weeks. Working agile, with elements of lean start-up, makes you better equipped for change. If localization happens in parallel and bugs are caught, for example, if we catch a bug in the Chinese version, chances are the mistake will be in the source code. Your language resources are helping the source code, helping to find bugs.

mikaAnd always, always, get a good partnership with a global MLV, like Welocalize, and make them part of the team. Whether your are an agile or lean start-up, you will achieve more and spend less with proactive localization.

Further reading:

Software Localization and Meeting Sim-Ship Expectations

Role of Quality in Four Stages of Software Localization

Defining a Successful Software Localization Program

Translation and Localization for Cloud-Based Products

Translation and Localization for Cloud-Based Products


For many software companies, the cloud is one of the biggest growth areas. Cloud-based services, software and applications are slowly becoming staples for global businesses to operate successfully. Consumers and businesses alike are relying more and more on the cloud.

As demand of easy online access to day-to-day personal and business applications increases, technology and software companies continue to put a primary focus on global cloud delivery and development. Cloud-based services must be available in more than one language to meet growing international demand and this has implications on the overall localization approach.

Global SaaS software revenues are forecasted to reach $106B in 2016, increasing 21% over projected 2015 spending levels according to Forrester.  IDC forecasts that public cloud spending will more than double to $127.5 billion by 2018. Source: Forecasts Call For Cloud Burst Through 2018.

What is the cloud?

The cloud is basically the Internet or as PCMag puts it, “a metaphor for the Internet.” The definition of cloud computing is “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.” It is also termed as hosting. It is where utility, shared services and computing infrastructure converge. It is an infinite space where we can store and access data publicly, privately or in a hybrid of the two.

Cloud-Based Services and the Impact on Global Software Business

By 2018, 59% of the total cloud workloads will be Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) workloads, up from 41% in 2013.  Cisco predicts that by 2018, 28% of the total cloud workloads will be Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) workloads and 13% of the total cloud workloads will be Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) workloads in 2018, both down from 2013.  Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2013–2018.

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – Software that is accessible from any device and is free or charged on a subscription basis, for example customer relationship management systems (CRMs). The popularity of SaaS has resulted in the fastest way for distributing software. SaaS is especially good for global companies, as employees can access it anywhere, at any time, making it great for collaborative work.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – Allows businesses to move data from their own company data center to an IaaS provider which cuts costs.  As the name suggest, IaaS provides you the computing infrastructure, physical or virtual machines. Ovum predicts that by 2016 over 80% of enterprises globally will using IaaS, with investments in private cloud computing showing the greater growth.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – Enables companies to develop apps at a low cost, or even for free; however, this limits interoperability and risks a vendor lock-in as apps cannot be moved from one vendor to another.

Cloud-based products and content can be accessed anywhere in the world, so there’s a growth in demand for cloud-based software services to be available in more than one language. As well as the software; updates, new features and supporting materials such as online help and marketing programs have to be available globally and in a local language.

Impact on Localization

The release process for these and localization updates are quicker, allowing users to have constant access to localized content. There is a high volume of small and medium-sized translation hand-offs that can be more unpredictable with a short translation window. To support a client in this environment, the localization program must ideally be tailored around the fully automated flow of content between the client content management system (CMS) and the service provider translation management system (TMS).

As a result of the growth in cloud-based software services, businesses are expected to become more agile, have higher levels of customer service and offer more competitive rates. Companies offering cloud computing are now able to provide high quality 24/7 customer service, and this is driving up customers’ accessibility and language expectations.

Welocalize is supporting this growth with innovative solutions that speed translation and localization for cloud-based products and services. As cloud computing continues to grow, so will the demand for its services and support to be securely available in many languages and cultures.

Are you in the cloud? Let’s talk!

Louise Donkor, Welocalize Global Marketing and Communications Specialist

For more information on Software Localization, have a look at some of our recent blogs:

Defining a Successful Software Localization Program

Role of Quality in Four Stages of Software Localization

Software Localization and Meeting Sim-Ship Expectations

The Internet of Things and How it Affects Localization

For additional data and statistics on the global cloud market, please see:

Defining a Successful Software Localization Program

185519875Mark O’Malley, Bernice McDonagh and Jörg Bauer focus on software localization programs at Welocalize. Together, they have over 25 years of experience working in the localization industry. In this blog, they highlight some of the key steps and components of a successful localization program that helps software companies sell into international markets.

Software localization projects can be complex and may involve cross-functional teams, specialized technology and numerous interrelated parts tied to our clients’ development and release schedules.

Key components of software localization projects include:  User Interface (UI), Help Systems and Documentation.

As we work through the different stages of a localization project, we often tackle components in parallel to maximize efficiency and meet deadlines. This is essential, as clients move to a sim-ship requirement needing localized software products available at the same time as English. For more information on sim-ship, see Welocalize blog Software Localization and Meeting Sim-Ship Expectations.

What do we need to ensure a successful software localization program?

First, we must know our clients and understand their products, their business strategy and their expectations regarding localized releases. This will impact the solutions that we offer and will influence how we build our project teams and organize project work. For example, products which follow an agile and/or sim-ship development methodology are likely to have different resourcing requirements compared to products which follow a more traditional development and release strategy.

Core program teams are made up of experienced project managers, language and functional leads. The project manager oversees the preparation, planning and execution phases of projects and will work closely with the project team to ensure that the scope and requirements are clear, to identify key milestones and to develop suitable localization plans and schedules. The project manager will also manage the budget throughout the lifetime of the project and will work with the project team to monitor variances and report to the client on a regular basis.

A key area for the project manager is the consideration of potential risks, dependencies and constraints when planning software localization work. For example, a product which will release to media may have in-product help or video content and, if so, the localization milestones for the documentation will have to be properly aligned with software localization milestones.

Communication is key to ensuring successful completion of projects and the project manager should define and agree communication channels and escalation paths with their project team and with their client contacts at the earliest stage. It is helpful to have an agreed communication channels with specialists on the client side to resolve any blocking issues that may arise during the translation and production cycles. Clear and open channels of communication assist in having all parties up to date with status. This allows the project teams at the client and lead LSP operate as an integrated unit. Everyone knows who to contact and it helps minimize the occurrence of unexpected surprises later in the project.

At Welocalize, we assign translation work to qualified linguistic resources that have expertise in the subject matter. Whatever the tool used to create source components at the client, we have internal processes ready to extract only translatable content out of the source files so that translators can easily work on the content and don’t have to struggle with unfamiliar tools or applications. A key part of the planning and set up phases is ensuring translators are comfortable with the defined translation tools and workflow required to complete the project. We have machine translation programs in place now for many clients. With machine translated content being widely used, expertise in post-editing is now also a requirement.

The project managers and language coordinators work with clients to make sure that translators have access to approved references and relevant product information. Based on the evolving needs of the program, we organize training and kick-off sessions with translation teams to make sure that they are clear about the latest requirements.

After translation, the source text is overwritten with the translation and checked for issues that might have been introduced by the localization process. For example, UI dialogs will be resized and hotkeys adjusted. In online help and documentation, the layout and, in the case of Asian languages, the font is also adjusted. Screenshots, audio files, videos and other localized graphics are created for software localization.

Before product release, we will also do a comprehensive testing cycle on the full software build. This can include layout, functional and language dependent checks by native speakers.

A robust defect management system and a well-defined workflow will ensure that defects identified during QA cycles are processed in a timely and consistent manner. It will mean that project managers and functional leads have visibility on status for defect fixes at all times. Such a system can be crucial to aid decision-making ahead of critical milestones and ultimately allow us to successfully deliver the signed-off final product to the client so they can launch internationally.

Mark, Bernice, Jörg

If you are interested in software localization, you might also want to read: Software Localization and Meeting Sim-Ship Expectations, Role of Quality in Four Stages of Software Localization, The Internet of Things and How it Affects Localization

Download Welocalize White Paper on Software Localization: A Bug is a Bug in Any Language

Software Localization and Meeting Sim-Ship Expectations

Five Tips to Help Software Companies Get Multiple Product Versions Ready for International Launch

469582405In our global economy, the pressure is on for software companies to sim-ship.  This means to simultaneously ship a product and supporting materials in multiple languages.

Launching localized product versions at the same time as the original source product (or at least very shortly afterwards) can be quite a challenge. From a business perspective, to achieve sim-ship often involves a lot of investment and planning up front, with a higher risk of missing launch deadlines. If the Japanese version is not ready, this could mean the whole global product does not go ahead and quite simply, no money in the door or recognized ROI.

Sim-ship is something often driven by global market demand. Consumers have shorter attention spans these days and demand instant gratification. They want goods available when they want them. A common mistake is to alienate European or Asian markets by only launching the US-EN version and promising availability “soon”. Highly competitive markets mean if you don’t deliver, your users may go elsewhere. This means for many software companies, they have to consider sim-ship – and not just for first-time product launches but also for significant updates and releases.  It is not just the end-user who is waiting. Audiences include end-users, partners, distributors, employees, analysts and journalists.

Delivering multilingual software to local markets involves a number of teams, processes and workflows. It is not simply a case of localizing the product. It is also ensuring that online help, support documentation and marketing materials are localized and in place ready for product launch. Successful software localization is not simply a process where text is extracted from the source application, translated, rebuilt, tested and ready.  There are many other localization considerations.

Here are five tips to help software companies get multiple product versions ready at the same time for international launch:

#1 APPOINT A LEAD LANGUAGE SERVICE PROVIDER (LSP) AND GET THEM INVOLVED AT THE START. Make localization part of the development process. Getting developers working with localization teams from the start will ensure the product is written and developed as a product, intended for global distribution.

#2 CENTRALIZE LOCALIZATION ACTIVITIES. As a leading global LSP, Welocalize works with a large number of software clients. The more coordinated, centralized and mature a client is in their localization activities, the less likely they are to miss deadlines and launch dates. If the localization of the product, marketing materials and support documentation are centralized, it means clearer communication across company divisions. Shared processes, technology and goals across multi-functional teams are a good practice for localization. Fragmented localization teams within the client leads to confusion, inconsistencies, missed deadlines and higher costs. None of those are welcome when launching a product globally.

#3 APPLY GOOD INTERNATIONALIZATION PRACTICES. According to GALA, “Internationalization (I18n) refers to how software code is written to ensure versions beyond the original language can be created correctly and save significant expense, time and headaches for everyone involved in the language work down the line.” For example, if you’re planning to release your software product in Asian markets, the product must handle double-byte Asian characters, date and time formats and currencies. Prevention is better than cure. Applying good internationalization practices will save time and money. Same applies when developing graphic user interfaces (GUIs) – any design element will need to be compatible for all target markets.

#4 KEEP COMMUNICATIONS CONSISTENT. Good terminology management practice is important in any localization program, not just software. You need consistency between the software interface and user-facing materials including marketing materials. This not only ensures correct usage of the product but also helps establish a consistent, global brand. If localization is centralized, this will enable shared terminology and glossaries across authors, agencies, translators and reviewers.

#5 USE AGILE DEVELOPMENT. There has been a shift away from traditional product releases towards a more responsive agile way of development. Most software companies use agile development cycles, not just for patches and updates but for the product release itself. The demand driving companies to simultaneously ship software product and services is the same demand that drives agile development. Users around the globe are driven by instant gratification – they want that new feature now! The waterfall approach to software development no longer supports this demand. We have to move quicker to meet market and business expectations.

The localization of a software product itself, whether installed, app or cloud-based, involves a number of experts. This includes engineers, testers, DTP experts, translators, reviewers and project managers. This same team of people can make the difference from simply having a localized product to having a global product, ready for launch, in all target markets. Partnering with a global LSP to achieve sim-ship will generate better ROI and help you stay ahead of the competition.


Louise Law is Global Communications Manager at Welocalize.

Role of Quality in Four Stages of Software Localization

479077975Based at the Welocalize office in Beijing, China, Judy Chen is Technical Services Director. In this blog, Judy shares her thoughts about the role and focus of quality during software localization.

During our routine work in the localization industry, we live and breathe quality every day, everywhere. What is quality? ISO 8402-1986 standard defines quality as “the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.”

How do you satisfy stated or implied needs? For software product localization, final localized versions must be bug-free for final product sign-off. For any software localization program, as well as the software product itself and for each software launch, patch and new feature, there will be a range of supporting materials including marketing materials, internal training and communications. All require different levels of quality.

In this blog, the following details the quality focus used during the software localization process for all content types.

There are four main stages to every simple translation project or complex software localization project requiring translation, software engineering, testing, document engineering, multimedia, DTP and art work: Project Scoping, Project Planning and Preparation, Production Execution and Product Delivery and Sign-Off:

Stage 1: Project Scoping

This stage is to fully understand quality expectations, customize quality standard depending on client requirements. It is the foundation to help client to best utilize their localization budget and set localization plans in place.

  • Perform evaluation about source content
  • Define work types
  • Figure out localized languages and workload
  • Raise any source bug queries
  • Provide localization suggestions and quotation

The main input for all of the above activities is understanding the client quality expectations. If the client quality requirements are understood, we can carry out appropriate scoping: neither over scoping nor under scoping. Based on different purposes of localized materials, we can customize different quality standards.

Using some of the local terminology we have in Beijing, here are some examples of how quality expectations differ, depending on content type and impact:

  • If the localized materials are for company internal staff training, we can set quality requirements as “accurate translation, simple DTP/engineering.”
  • If the localized materials are for marketing or online customer support, we can set quality requirement as “accurate and beautiful translation, fine DTP/engineering.”
  • If the localized materials are for localization of product code, we can set quality requirement as “technically accurate, debugged, full of beauty for DTP/engineering.”
  • If the localized materials are high impact to the brand, like company slogans or taglines, we set the quality requirement as “perfect transcreation, full of beauty for DTP/engineering.”

Stage 2: Project Planning and Preparation

This stage is the process that transforms a client’s quality expectations to a series of production activities and measurable KPIs.

  • Workflow Customizing
  • Environment and Tools Deployment
  • Quality Measurement (SOPs and Checklist)
  • Work Scheduling
  • Risk Evaluation (Risk Factors)
  • Resources Reservation and On-boarding
  • Training of Involved Resources

All planning and preparation activities are based on exact quality requirements and those stated purposes confirmed at the scoping stage. Based on different quality requirements, we can customize different workflows, choose different resources and work out different quality matrices. For example, aiming at the quality requirement, “accurate and beautiful translation, fine DTP/engineering,” we can use standard translators and engineers to complete the work. We can arrange one cycle translation, DTP/engineering work with quick QA cycle.

If we are aiming for the quality requirement of “perfect transcreation, full of beauty for DTP/engineering,” we need to on-board experienced translators and engineers with specific skills and arrange more reviews and QA cycles to ensure final quality.

Stage 3: Production Execution

An integral part at this stage is the LSP management system, which must manage and track production activities for software localization activities, including a quality tracker and bug management system. This means all quality information can be extracted and checked for the following main activities:

  1. Production Process Control – All procedures are monitored to ensure that work is being handled according to customized workflows and using reserved resources.
  2. Inter-Operation Management – Constant team interaction to ensure no breaking within consequent work steps and processes. Client information is fully shared with all involved parties to ensure everyone is on the same page and aware of all targets and deadlines.
  3. Risk Management – Based on risk evaluation, routine checks are performed at the risk points with appropriate remedies used, if necessary. Version control method and bug management systems are put in place.
  4. Results Checking – Any work results are checked based on the defined quality measurement. Any non-conformity item should be evaluated and handled before delivering to client.

Stage 4: Product Delivery and Sign-Off

In theory, at this stage you have a bug free localized product. During this stage, final checks are performed and the product is prepared for sign-off. If in the unlikely event of bugs being found, careful risk evaluation is undertaken, especially for complex software localization projects. Each bug case is evaluated case-by-case and communicated with the client to decide whether to fix or defer. In stage 4, achieving quality means to deliver an acceptable product without introducing significant risks to users.

During each stage of localization, there is a different quality focus. By further strengthening our quality consciousness and achieving a deep understanding of the quality focus during our routine work, we will work smarter, more agile and produce quality levels that exceed our software client’s expectations.


Based in Beijing, China, Judy Chen is Technical Services Director at Welocalize.

For more information about software localization and bug-fixing, read Welocalize White Paper: A Bug is a Bug in Any Language.

The Internet of Things and How it Affects Localization

122177295What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? It’s a popular buzzword describing a technological capability and environment where everything is connected to the Internet, creating “intelligence” for dumb devices. Physical objects are transformed to smart objects, which can be interlinked through the Internet.

The IoT is an important concept with regards to the future of the Internet. The IoT depends on a technological architecture where physical objects with sim cards and sensors communicate with structures, like the cloud, to send and analyse data, using IP.

One basic example is an oil tank telling a fuel supplier it is nearly empty, prompting the supplier to automatically visit and refuel. Or a waste bin telling the local services provider when it is full and needing collecting, rather than having a set waste collection schedule. Your central heating could switch itself on when it knows you are five miles from home. The opportunities in the health and medical device industries are huge. As a runner, I know there are all manner of wearable trackers that can monitor my health. In years to come, maybe if my heart were to reach dangerous levels, an ambulance would be automatically notified and find me through a GPS tracker and ECG data fed through directly to my heart specialist.

It all sounds very impressive and efficient. However, a fully functioning IoT is still a way off. The IoT may not be realized over the next few years; however, it is on the not-too-distant horizon based on analysts and prognosticators.  Cisco forecasts that the economic value of the Internet of Everything, a Cisco coined buzzword to explain smart objects, will be $19 trillion in 2020.

It is reported that some 20 billion or so IoT devices are already in place and connected through the Internet. Computers are communicating and we can experience IoT today, especially if we are an inquisitive early adopter. We watch web-connected television and certain car manufacturers are selling “auto” cars that can park themselves and can be called by their drivers with a smartphone app. Although technological capability may be ready, there is a whole bunch of standardization and commercial miles to cover before all devices and appliances are working at our beck and call.

So what impact will the IoT have on localization?

Just as the software industry looks forward to create and develop the next big technological capability, so must the localization and language industry. If the inanimate objects that we use in our everyday lives are one day going to be smart, what impact will this have on the localization and translation industry? The cloud, social and mobile technologies are key growth areas and they are all areas that further enable global markets. Future software and technologies must increasingly speak to global markets in a local language to enhance user experience.

More Agile Development.

One key shift will be how software companies change the way they develop and launch their products. Software providers and vendors have been providing applications and infrastructure technology to support the cloud and that will support the IoT vision. This has means a shift away from traditional product releases, typically developed using the waterfall approach where product release cycles are long, sometimes up to 18 months, and moving towards a more responsive, the agile way of development. To meet global market demands, new applications, features, updates and patches have to be released every day, not every year. It would seem that to have a future in this new software market, agile is the only way to work to meet current and future demand.

This shift towards agile has transferred across to the localization teams. Short shelf lives and agile production cycles mean agile localization cycles. If agile runs on a concept of regular releases, so agile localization must follow suit. Regular set hours and localization resources must be in place to match the agile sprints – not just the software strings and UI, as well as all supporting materials, online assistance and help documentation. Localization becomes an integral part of the overall development cycle and is moved upstream. See Welocalize case study – F-Secure: predictable & consistent software localization

Shift in content types.

As the number of smart devices increase, then volumes of printed content will reduce and more content will appear on mobile or tablet screens – in small, bite sized pieces, updated more regularly. This may also generate an increased usage of audio, video or animation to create a more enhanced user experience and interface. This will impact the localization industry as it requires a different set of skills and resources. Multimedia localization can be a lengthy process, especially if it requires sourcing voice talents and recording studios. If language service providers (LSPs) are involved in the development of content from the outset, then this will make the translation and localization process more efficient and cost-effective.

Understanding how the software industry is changing will help top-tier LSPs, like Welocalize, to shape services and solutions, to meet growing global demand.

According to Gartner in 2014, “the Internet of things is the most over-hyped technology in development today… putting the IoT technology, where every electronic device has a sim card and its own presence, on the net, at five to 10 years from actual productivity.” Probably accurate and sage advice; however, we need to be thinking about the future because before you know it, our smart phone will be telling our smart oven to get the dinner on and we’ll need our localized operating manuals to make it happen!

One of the themes for this year’s Localization World in Berlin, 3-5 June, is the Internet of Things and many of the discussions will focus on how this technological capability will impact localization. I look forward to meeting and hearing from industry colleagues and clients on how they think IoT will affect their industry and impact global business.


Louise Law is Global Communications Manager at Welocalize