Writing Content for Localization

Writing Content for Localization

Localization in any organization doesn’t limit only to translating and adapting source texts and other materials to a target market. A good and also cost-effective localization process starts earlier than in the moment when the developers send texts to translators. It naturally contains all necessary technical steps, but we’ll skip them this time and focus on the translatable texts themselves and what you can do to make them efficient from a localization point-of-view.

Many of these tips are quite general so they will help you improve your original texts too. They have been written especially with UI, help and support materials in mind – writing for your landing page might be a completely different ballgame but many of the rules apply there too.

Fluent and Correct

Would you trust a linguist to do code for you? I wouldn’t either (and I’m a linguist). Don’t put too much trust in your developer’s linguistic ability either.

Software and other web content are nowadays mostly written in English, which often is a good choice for localization and translation purposes, as the most translators around have English as one of their source languages. But other languages are used too.

Whichever your writing language of choice is, make sure the texts are well written. If your own or your developer’s English is not that good, have the texts edited by someone whose knowledge is more solid. “Engineering English” might create misunderstandings for your users, and those misunderstandings will get multiplied in localization.

Consistent Terminology

Stick to the terminology you choose and make everybody who is writing content also aware of it. This also means not using one term for several concepts. This might in many cases leave the translator wondering which of the concepts you’re referring to – and even get yourself in trouble when you want to mention those two concepts in the same sentence. Put a system in place to manage and spread terminology in your organization.

Reuse

At school, you learn that you shouldn’t be overly repetitive when writing, so you don’t make the reader bored. This is mostly true, I don’t want to argue with your elementary school teacher, but when writing software texts, repetition is your best friend. And this goes for basically any help and support texts too – or anything you write with localization in mind.  Identify parts of text that appear in many places and don’t rewrite them. The commonly used localization tools identify what has been translated earlier and you can usually have those parts translated automatically. The more similarities the new texts have with old ones, the less their translation costs. Repeated terms and structures are easy for the translators.

Using the same terms and structures also makes things easy for your user: they will be more familiar with different parts of the UI and have a more fluent experience.

Be Concise

Don’t write overly long texts unless you have a true motivation for that. English is often shorter than many other languages, e.g. German translations tend to be around 3o% longer than English texts, so don’t aim at filling all available space already in the English version. Other than that, concise texts are mostly user-friendly, too. You don’t want your users to leave your page because of texts that take ages to read and are difficult to understand, right?

Localization cost is almost always directly tied to text length, so this point is also directly linked to your bottom line.

Text in Graphics

If you want to make localization easy, embed as little text as possible into graphics. Each time you localize texts that you have as graphics means manual labor, which means more costs. Each time you add a language you need to update all graphics manually.

Cultural References

Funny slang words can nicely spice up a text, as will idiomatic expressions. And make you sound like someone who really masters the language. But at the same time, they make localization more difficult and might even be nearly impossible to translate. For translators, there are ways to get around that, but you don’t want to make translating more difficult and error-prone. The same goes rid of jargon and metaphors, you need to get rid of them.

A Final Pointer

Being customer centric pays off in localization too: if a text is optimal for a user in your own language area, it probably is easy to localize.

Photo by Thomas Lefevbre.

Improving SEO Rankings through Localization and Correct Use of Hreflang

Google needs a bit of help to detect your website’s localized language versions. To do this correctly, you need to be aware of the hreflang attribute and how to use it.

Let’s now assume that you have ordered professional translations from Get Localization for your site from English to Spanish. You define an alternative version of your site using the link tag and hreflang attribute like this in your English website:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="http://es.example.com/" />

This means that your Spanish website will be found at http://es.example.com. But now, hold on! This is not the whole story, and some precautionary measures should be taken to do this correctly.

First and foremost, make sure that Google Search Console is tracking your website property (https://www.google.com/webmasters/). This is important as it lets you see whether your hreflang tags and international targeting are working properly.

Furthermore, you need to use these tags correctly – if you just go and add hreflang tags into your site, I bet your Search Console will show “Hreflang Tags with Errors”.

Most common hreflang error is “No return tags”. This happens because your English page links to Spanish page, but your Spanish page does not link back to your English page. Why must it do that? Well, Google uses this to verify that the content really is an alternative version of your site.

So, you also need to add this tag into your Spanish page:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://www.example.com/" />

After this you’re good to go. Google will now process your site. However, it will take some time. Google’s indexing is otherwise fast, but not so much for international content.

The wrong language code is also a common error. You can find a list of language codes and region codes on Wikipedia. From us, you will receive the correct language codes along the translations.

How to Utilize SVG in Localization

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is an XML-based file format for vector images. It’s also a great tool for creating responsive localized graphics for the web.

There are also several other methods for creating localized graphics, like our Get Localization for Photoshop plug-in. If you want to externalize all the texts from your images, you can also use HTML and CSS but it will get difficult if your site is responsive (it’s possible though).

SVG however, is a great alternative as you can use a single base background asset (bitmap or vector), externalize textual content and also leverage the scaling of the SVG image to create a responsive graphical asset. In our example, the background is a single bitmap and looks like this:

old_way_arrows_blank

Following piece of XML is actually the SVG image and using the above PNG as a base background image.  You can also use full SVG background as well if you’d like. I’ll use the background bitmap image here just to keep the markup simple and easy.

In this example we use Django’s i18n framework for internalization so the texts will be translated the same way as the rest of the website. If you are using some other framework or CMS, the SVG can be embedded into your HTML code which let you employ the same process you have in place for localizing the HTML content.

When the SVG is rendered in a browser, this is how it looks like:

websites_en

And this is how it looks in Japanese:

websites_ja.jpg

It is also fully responsive; image and text both scale correctly and keep their correct positions when you resize your browser.

There are also few important points which you should consider when creating localized assets. Text length varies in different languages, so make sure you have enough space for the translated text. Also, think how the lengthier or shorter text appears in your image. Ask yourself a question: if this text is longer or shorter, what is going to happen? Is it going to overlap the elements or will there be an ugly white space between the text and the element when text is actually shorter like in this example:

anchor_example

You need to make sure that text extends in the correct direction. Luckily SVG lets you define an anchor position for each text element. It’s used to align the text relative to a given point. For example, you may want to set the anchor point to middle if you want the text to always be centered, no matter how long it is. Or if you want to position the text based on the end coordinate, then the last character will always stay in the same position. This is how we can fix the problem in our example.

If you want to use Google Fonts or similar web fonts, make sure they support the languages you want to translate your site into. Google Fonts lets you search fonts by their supported languages.

So it’s not that hard, really! If you need help with your website translation & localization, let us know. Along with professional translation services, we also provide consultation and various tools for workflow management.

Get Localization offers professional translation services and managed translation & localization solutions for all kind of businesses. 

Cloud, Crowd, and Professional Translators

Cloud, Crowd, and Professional Translators

Stas Kalianov – Localization Manager at Schneider Electric – spoke at the GALA conference in New York in March about the role of translation agencies in software localization, and about who are the most important people in this workflow.

Through a mix of technology, their internal crowd, and professional translators Schneider Electric has achieved a safe and robust process that gives them both lower costs and more user-friendly translations.

Listen below to how they achieved this with the help of Get Localization and how they chose to leave unnecessary steps out of the process (this re-recording of the presentation has been previously published by Stas Kalianov).

How to use Apple’s new Media Manager

How to use Apple’s new Media Manager

Apple has rolled out a new Media Manager that simplifies screenshot management in iTunes Connect. This is a long waited feature as managing screenshots has been a notoriously painful process for developers. New iTunes Connect Media Manager lets you prepare one set of screenshots and they will be automatically scaled down to appropriate sizes for smaller screens. But even more awesome is that this also works for localized screenshots. According to Apple, if your app is developed for iPhone, iPad and Watch you may end up having a total of 980 screenshots if your app is localized to all the supported languages. So this is a huge time-saver. Let’s take a look at how the new Media Manager is actually used:

You can find a small link to Media Manager right under the App Preview and Screenshots section:

media-manager-1

When you have opened it, you can simply drag and drop your screenshots to each device family separately or click “Use 5.5-inch Display” check box to let Media Manager downscale the screenshots for you.

media-manager-2

 

That is great and simplifies the process a lot! You can do this also for localized versions: simply prepare localized versions of your screenshots and then select the appropriate language in the top right corner. The process is the same for each language.

But how do I create the localized screenshots?

Unfortunately Media Manager is not doing this for you. It will simplify the submission process a lot, but you still have to deal with the actual localization yourself.

You have basically a couple of options: either take the actual screenshots of your localized application for each language or use Photoshop to create the screenshots. Most screenshots contain marketing and demo content so they are often created in Photoshop to represent the actual app. It’s also often easier to manage updates when you don’t have to take screenshots with each release cycle. Simply modify the few base screenshots that are then used for all the devices and languages.

To make it easier to produce localized versions of your screenshots, we have published a Photoshop plug-in called Get Localization for Photoshop. It exports the textual content from your PSD file into a resource file that can be uploaded to Get Localization Workspace or Go service. When you get the file back from us, you simply create the localized PSD versions automatically with the plug-in. We just recently introduced a new version that also supports Artboards.

So it looks like managing screenshots is getting easier over time – so don’t lose hope! You can always contact us for help, our Sales and Support team is eager to answer your questions. You can get professional translations from Get Localization – also for your other content like the actual app UI, website and other marketing materials.

Get Localization Testfront 4.0 for Websites

Get Localization Testfront 4.0 for Websites

Get Localization Testfront 4.0 for Websites allows translators, proofreaders and QA teams to translate, test and optimize translations in their actual context.

Contextual mistakes are the most common issue in the world of professional translation. Get Localization allows fast and intuitive translation in our CAT editor and then quick localization quality assurance in the actual context.

With Get Localization Testfront you are able to discover contextual issues and issues with UI elements quickly and effectively. Your team is able to report these issues directly to the translators.

Get Localization Testfront 4.0 is part of Get Localization Professional Suite. You can contact us for more details or try it out for yourself at https://www.getlocalization.com

Get Localization for Photoshop Updated

Get Localization for Photoshop Updated

 

Get Localization for Photoshop received a facelift and update for Photoshop CC 2015 today. This add-on allows you to easily export text layers to separate XLIFF resource files and also to generate translated PSD and PNG files automatically from resource files. This is handy for example for screenshots and marketing material.

Download Get Localization for Photoshop add-on here