Karolina Sarul
January 22, 2019

What is Localization (and What It Isn't)

In today’s world, there’s one visible trend in business: everyone wants to grow globally.

To do that, they have to appeal to local markets. And there is only one good way to do that.


That much you already know. Right? You’ll find information on the Internet on what localization is. But do you know what it is not? (No, it’s not the same thing as translation.)

professional localization

1. Localization Is Not Simple and Boring.

When I first heard of this, I was convinced it’s a simple job connected to graphic design after you translate content. You adjust bits here, change bits there and voilà! All done! I couldn’t be more wrong and I know it now.

Over the time I have spent in the translation industry, I learned that localization is a complex process involving many layers of actions, people and tools.

Communicating through content from one language (source language) into another (target language), is the main goal of translation, the key element of the localization process, of course.

Oh, but wait. There’s more. Understanding the language of the content is one thing but adding cultural nuances, local traditions, history and general understanding of the target market is what localization is all about.


2. Localization Is Not for Everyone.

To fully adjust the translated content to certain locale and people, this has to be done by professionals, for example linguists, among others. Can any linguist do the job? Well, I am a linguist, I studied Polish and English.

Would I be able to localize an English website about electric cars into Polish so that it works in terms of the target language, culture and serves its business purpose just because I studied these two languages, I live in Poland and I happen to be in love with electric cars? Don’t think so.

A professional, an expert in a given field, knowing a given industry and also a native speaker of the target language armed with the knowledge of cultural nuances is able to handle the work in the way that the client’s expectations are fully met and they win more business because localization is good. 



3. Localization Is Not a Crossword Puzzle.

There’s another important element of this puzzle: a glossary of terms and style guide provided or approved by the client to ensure communication is consistent and delivers results.

Translation agency implements
all the necessary guidelines provided by the client, glossary and style requirements, to make sure the company message is fit for the target market, yet consistent globally. Of course, the client is always able to reuse the terminology and the content already translated in the new projects. Nothing gets lost in space.
It’s a CAT thing, you know. And it's about money, too. Let's not be shy here.

4. Localization Is Not About Video Games Only.

Next, in the process come the quality checks. Yes, the process. As in the case of revision and review done by independent professionals to ensure no error slips through the cracks. Because there are no cracks. This isn’t a video game where you have more than 1 life. You either do it right or fail.

Professional language translation services providers have their processes in place. Certified. ISO 17100 and ISO 18587 mean the client is safe as they ensure the quality and reliability of the delivery. Be it a game, UI/UX or a website. Quality is a given. In fact, the client doesn't care how many QA steps you execute or basically, how you do it all. You can even do it with a hammer (although we don't recommend that). Yes, the above things help a lot and significantly enhance the efficiency of risk management. They must be in place.

But it's the result that matters to the customer in the end. Don't forget that.

5. Localization Is Not About Guessing.

At every stage of the process, efficient communication between the client and the provider is essential. From the first Zoom meeting till the final verification and the release of the localized files. There’s always the matter of files types to be used and much, much more that needs to be discussed before, throughout and at the end of the whole process, even after the wrap-up.

6. Localization Is Not an Empty Tool Belt.

Every good job needs a good tool. So, every good localization services provider has certain translation tools at their disposal. I am sure you’ve heard the delightful phrase CAT tools at some point, right?

Yes, I’ve already mentioned them here. They are what makes the client’s and LSP’s lives easier.
Not to mention a good, reliable Translation Management System (TMS) that enables project managers and the whole team working for their client to maintain the highest level of deliverability, quality and communication, all in one, integrated and connected.

7. Localization Is Not a Genie in a Bottle.

Localization process is complex. But after understanding the behind-the-scenes actions, it is as simple as that:

Localization means people, processes and tools that make the client’s dream of going global come true.

I feel like I’ve shared a lot today, don’t you?
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