If you are a software or app developer, the key to your success could very well lie in two words: localizing and translating. The reason is simple: people around the world speak different languages and come from very different cultural backgrounds. If your software or app is difficult or impossible to understand, or is somehow unappealing or even offensive to potential users, it won’t sell. It’s that simple.

Although the reason why you need localization and translation services is simple, the process involved in accomplishing that is anything but. In fact, unless you are a professional translator and localization expert yourself, you’ll need the assistance of people who are trained and experienced in localizing and translating apps and software. Ideally, this should be done during the development phase. Once you are ready to begin, the process will typically involve the following steps:

1. Identify your target markets.

If this sounds more like marketing than localizing or translating, that’s because it is. There are hundreds of different languages spoken by billions of people all over the world. You can’t reach them all. So decide which languages and regions of the world you want to market to first.

2. Create your team of translators and localization experts.

This is easier said than done. If you don’t have an in-house team of experienced linguists and localization experts, contact a reputable translation company. They can match your needs with professionals who have the training, expertise and experience necessary to get the job done.

3. Internationalize your software/app.

This means creating your source code in a manner that will make it easier for localization experts to do their work, which includes details like making sure that images, sound files and text strings are kept in separate files and folders. This will allow for localization and translation services to take place without changing any of the source code itself.

4. Supply your translators and localization experts with reference materials.

This typically includes a glossary containing key terms in your source language and a style guide to ensure that your brand remains consistent throughout all the iterations and versions of your product.

5. Utilize a translation management system (TMS).

Similar to a content management system, a TMS allows you to track, coordinate and manage every step of the translation/localization process. There are several available, including Localize, POEditor, Lookalise, Memsource, etc. If no one on your team has a preference, check online reviews and choose the one that best suits your needs.

6. Monitor the progress of your team by communicating with your translators and localization experts on a regular basis.

The best way to fix a mistake is to prevent one from happening to begin with, and ongoing open communication with your translation team is an excellent way to do just that.

7. Have a native speaker test drive your app/software.

This is not quite as simple as it sounds. Your tester should be someone who is not only fluent in the language, but also someone who is intimately familiar with the culture of target audience. The tester should also know your app/software extremely well, so he or she can go it as thoroughly as possible. Never underestimate the importance of this step. Testing the translation/localization is your last chance to catch anything that might be wrong, inappropriate or downright offensive before the product hits the market.

There’s no doubt that translating and localizing your app/software is a weighty task, but the rewards will be worth every minute and dollar spent. The world is a huge marketplace, and the more potential users you can reach, the more successful you – and your product – will be.