Software localization and translation is a specific service that requires more than just language and technical knowledge. If your company is facing such a translation project, it’s a good idea to know the basics of software translation in order to be successful  and happy with the final results. 

What is software translation?

Software translation is the process of converting text, usually Human-Machine Interface (HMI) strings, from one language into another. Making sure that there are no malfunctions in the software code regardless of the language you use. Software localization and translation services are offered by language service providers (LSPs) to software companies and business in all industries that want to speak the language of their target customers. 

Main elements of software translation

Software translation starts by determining which elements to translate. Each client may specify what to include in the translation project. Some may want only the basic parts to appear in the target language, while others may opt for a more extensive service. In either case, it is essential to know which basic elements to include in a software localization and translation project, namely:

  • Navigation button. These are elements such as File, Open, Save and the like in Microsoft Word
  • Window titles. The text on the upper part of a software window
  • Dialog boxes
  • Status messages
  • Error messages
  • Help files 
  • Readme files
  • Texts in images
  • End user license agreement (EULA) 

All of these elements contain important information for the end user and it is desirable to have them translated in the mother tongue of the target audience. 

Choosing the right software translation provider

An important step in assuring quality software localization and software translation services is selecting the right language service provider. There are three main options to choose from:

  1. In-house translation team
  2. Freelance translators
  3. Translating agency

Each of these options has its pros and cons and every company needs to decide individually which the best solution for them is. Managing an in-house translation team is a good idea given that you have sufficient recourses to hire professional translators who are subject-matter experts in your field. You also need to have a significant amount of translation projects to keep the team busy and probably invest in a good Translation Management System (TMS). A freelance translator is a great option in case you have just a few translations round the year. One of the best options is to select a translation agency that can assist with the translation of any content in addition to software localization and translation services and also guide you throughout the specifications of the process.

Regardless of the LSP you choose, there are certain qualities that you need to look for in a software translation provider. The translator should be:

  • using the source language professionally
  • fluent in the target language
  • IT-literate
  • knowledgeable of the specific programming language used for the software that is to be translated 

The combination of those qualifications will guarantee you a high-quality end result of your software localization and translation project. 

Depending on your software localization and translation project you may need to work with one or more translators. Bigger projects are better implemented by a team of translators who can translate, edit, and proofread each translated software section. 

Here, at ICD translation, our team of expert translators works with a software engineer to guarantee faster turnaround times and more effective software launches regardless of the language you need for your target market. 

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