We’ve been talking about the localization of your content in many articles, but from the feedback we received, many of you don’t have a lot (or any) localization experience. To tackle this, we have decided to write a down-to-earth article about the best practices for localization workflow, so you will be able to localize any content.
These will be simple steps you should cover, and by the end of the article, you should know and understand the basics necessary for content localization:
Phase 1 – Preparing the source for translation
Phase 2 – Translating the content
Phase 3 – reviewing the content
Phase 4 – Delivery (or import)
Let’s dive in!
Phase 1: Preparing the source for translation
This can mean a lot of things, depending on what is being translated. Any source can be prepared in file format. If you want to translate a manual, this will usually be a Word, PDF, or InDesign file. If you want to translate your software (PC, Android, iOS, web app), you will be usually dealing with .xliff, .xml, .po, etc. files. And if you want to translate your website, you will mostly be dealing with .html, .xliff, or .xml files.
However, websites can also be translated in-context, by crawling the content from the website itself, without extracting the content. Check with everyone involved in the localization process how they would like to translate the content. Is it easier for website developers if the content is not exported/imported from the CMS? Does the technical documentation department have InDesign files at hand? Once you answer this question, you can find the right system which will help you translate the content.
Keep in mind that most repetitive actions can be automated when using the Translation Management System. For example, if your developers are using something like GitHub or BitBucket, the right tool will enable you to set up an automated export/import process. For more advanced workflows, you can also use API methods to fully personalize how content is sent for translation and imported back into your system.
Phase 2: Translating the content
In this phase of the localization workflow, you decide on who is translating the content. If you have colleagues or partners who can work on the localization projects, you will probably want to keep at least parts of the project in-house, to reduce costs. However, bear in mind that for these people, localizing your content is an additional task in their daily schedule, so time-sensitive projects might not be the best choice for such an approach. In that case, you will probably outsource the localization project.
If you have previously translated content, you can use the Translation Management System you selected to import these translations, so that they can be reused. You should also prepare the most important terminology, especially if you have a very specific company dictionary translators should adhere to.
If you are translating specific content (like an Android app), you may want to prepare screenshots of e.g. buttons which are difficult to understand without context. If you are outsourcing the localization project, you can work with the project manager handling your project on the selection of people who should be translating your content (e.g. by giving pointers in terms of experience needed, etc.). Once all this is decided by you and the project manager, the localization is kicked off.
Phase 3: Reviewing the content
The review process is traditionally started once the translation is finished. However, we don’t believe that this should be the case, as it is much easier for everyone involved if the translator and reviewer work hand in hand.
Imagine if the reviewer wants to change a certain term and waits for the translation to be finished. This means that the reviewer (or translator, depending on the agreement), needs to change all instances of the term, throughout the localization project.
If the reviewer cooperates with the translator, they can tell the translator immediately to change certain terms from the very beginning. This way, the reviewer will never have to change e.g. all instances of a term and can help improve the translation from the start. Once the review is done, you can move to the last phase.
Phase 4: Delivery (or import)
The delivery or import of the translated content is actually one of the most important and critical steps in the whole localization workflow. If you are translating an Office file, the formatting needs to match the source, even if you are localizing into right-to-left languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew.
If you are localizing software, you need to be sure that the code was not changed by the translator/reviewer, and that the delivered file is in the same file format. If you are importing content, you need to be sure that the import is done properly. If the import to the CMS does not work as planned, this will create additional problems.
This is why you should have a short test run of the whole workflow, before localizing the whole content. You could, for example, translate a couple of rows/strings/pages of a website, see how the content is translated, reviewed, and how the content looks like after being imported back to your system.
Planning the localization workflow can be easy!
In any case, look for a tool which will help you do most of these steps, or even do them for you. If you want to discuss your specific case, you are always welcome to reach out – even if you decide against using our Translation Management System to localize your content, we are always ready to help with advice!