Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Five Questions For Your Localization Vendor

It's better to localize your software/app during development vs after development. Because during development you can include extra line breaks, space, and other engineering buffering in preparation of your vendor's localization actions and requirements. 

Fortunately, you can apply the same questions and follow up in post-development. It is important to note that localization in post development takes a bit more planning and review. That does not mean it is not worth your investment, actually it is quite the opposite. Localizing your app/software can help you make a sale or teach a skill to an entirely new user base.

We like to encourage proper planning because it makes the localization process smoother if it occurs during your development. Now it's time to ask your localization vendor the hard questions:

1. Do they have experience in working with software and apps?
If yes, do they have any examples and references to share with you? We know print and software are worlds apart; typically print is served in a single format which a vendor can plan for. However, software and apps are served across multiple platforms and browsers which can lead to a multitude of issues. 

2. Has your potential vendor localized anything similar to your software/app? 
Again just because a vendor has "localized" an XML document does not mean they understand and/or are ready for a project like that of a roleplaying game on the Android or iOS platform. Get a couple quotes - shop around, comparison shopping empowers you and will assist you in whom to proceed with and whom to ask follow up questions to.  Such as, how long it will take, why does your process take longer compared to other potential vendors?

From our perspective as localization specialists, we believe providing quality engineering in a reasonable timeline should be one in the same, instead of settling for just one of these two features.

3. What are the vendor's QA (Quality Assurance) processes?
We have a very extensive QA process. We are personally huge sticklers when it comes to QA-ing a client's project. One of the necessary tools for our QA process is a sandbox environment. A sandbox is a testing environment that isolates untested code changes and outright experimentation from the production environment or repository. Does your vendor provide a sandbox environment? 

Localization experts review and test the app/software for proper localization flow, line breaks, and a whole host of additional details.  Our linguists localize content in 2 places. The first, in an isolated environment, giving the linguist the ability to read and localize copy by itself. The second place is the software's Sandbox environment where they review the content once it has been placed. These necessary steps ensure your content has proper flow and its context is maintained. Be aware that quality comes at a cost beyond price.

4. Does your vendor have processes in place for your upgrades and Add-ons?
Such as text updates/changes, new or additional images. Will the updates be done by the vendor or by you the developer/user.

5. What are the vendor’s rates for updates and changes to text? 
Sometimes you're not the Project Manager but you are handed the project, will your vendor provide training on how to make changes and updates?

Proper localization engineering is important because it directly impacts your users and their experience with your product which can have long term implications. Localizing your app/software can be a large task, but these initial vendor questions you will have off on the right foot.