Much as you wish to be ensconced in your world of code, the truth is, the product you build is for human beings in the real world. And for that to happen across the globe, the code, product information, and a ton of other content has to be translated into a multitude of languages. Some of it, like code and user interface text, has everything to do with you, the developer.
And believe us when we say that not cooperating with translators and localization professionals can influence the success of your product. In this post, we list some reasons why a little more involvement in translation can go a long way in making life easier for everyone concerned.
Your job doesn’t end at internationalizing the product
In fact, you’ve barely begun. Localizing a product is a process, not a button you can push and be done with it. As with all processes, there is a need for continuous improvement, adapting to new requirements, managing the resources required, and so on.
While you need not worry about the entire process sitting on your shoulders — there are project managers for that — you do need to understand that you can’t simply throw strings over the wall and get them back translated. It doesn’t work that way.
Do respond to translators’ queries
A good deal of unnecessary delays and conflicts can be avoided if there is respect for translators and an understanding of what their job involves. Translators are professional writers, just in a different language. They frequently have to turn source language content written by non-professional writers — mostly developers — into high quality content in the target language.
While developers don’t have to think about how just a couple of words can mean something vastly different when taken out of context, it’s the stuff of a translator’s nightmare. Remember that if a translator isn’t clear about what is meant, it’s very likely that it’s not going to be any clearer for the target audience. So do take time to respond to translators’ requests for clarification.
In larger companies there’s often a project manager or localization engineer to act as the go-between. But in smaller enterprises, developers may have to reply directly to translators.
Beware the ‘one-click translation’ promise
Proxy tool vendors are most likely to make translation seem like a switch that you can flick on and off. Their sales pitches frequently refer to translation as an “easy” process and claim that no one in the organization needs to bother with it. However tempting it might be to believe them, remember that simply integrating a translation management tool with your content management system, or scraping content from your website and pushing translations to global websites, is just one piece of the localization puzzle.
There are many processes related to translation, such as terminology management, and tools like Translation Management Systems (TMS) that need to be managed by human beings. Same goes for testing. Though these may not look like tasks that will take a significant amount of time when you start localizing, things build up as you translate more and more. To achieve consistent quality, speed, and scale, these processes and tools will have to be looked after regularly. There’s no shortcut to that.
You might even be led to believe that you can place yourself at the center of the TMS wheel without experience managing translation workflows. Do not fall for such rhetoric — focus on what you do best, and seek out experts in other areas to assist you. Hire a language service provider (LSP) with the expertise to efficiently handle the localization processes and tools and facilitate a smooth ramp-up in languages and content.