We’ve heard it before: localization is important. Localized content can help a company reach an international audience and increase sales. However, just because it’s important doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it successfully.
In fact, many companies struggle with localizing their products and services into other languages due to several common mistakes — and these mistakes are easy for anyone to make. To help you avoid these common pitfalls, let’s look at eight of the most common localization mistakes we’ve seen over the years.
Common Localization Mistakes
Interpreter mistakes are very common, but if we know the common mistakes that can happen in translation, we can avoid them beforehand. Here are 8 common errors in translation.
Mistake 1: Lack of Planning
A lack of planning is one of the biggest causes of localization errors. The scope of a project should be clearly defined so that translation errors and delays can be avoided in the long run. If your company wants to expand into other countries or regions, it’s important to consider their cultures and customs when developing content for them.
Mistake 2: Poor Translator Selection
This is one of the most common mistakes made by companies who plan to localize their products. It’s easy to assume that a translator with good writing skills and knowledge of the target language will automatically be able to translate texts into your desired language. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Mistake 3: Missing Characters
Another common mistake is failing to account for characters that may be missing in certain languages or scripts. Some languages may not have certain letters or symbols that are present in others. If these missing characters are not accounted for, it can cause the translated text to be displayed incorrectly or in a way that is difficult to read. To avoid this mistake, it is important to thoroughly test the localized version of the game and ensure that all characters are displayed correctly.
Mistake 4: Overlooking Cultural Norms
If you’re looking for a new market, it’s important to understand that each country will have its cultural norms. Therefore, localizing for a specific country or region means considering cultural and linguistic differences. This can be particularly challenging when you’re localizing for multiple countries at once.
For example, in China, using emoticons in text messages is common. In contrast, in Western countries, they’re rarely used except by teenagers and younger adults. If your app doesn’t include emoticons — or if it only consists of some — you might alienate some users who expect them in all their messages.
Mistake 5: Translating Keywords Verbatim
When you’re translating a website or app, it can be tempting to translate keywords directly. But this isn’t always the best strategy — especially if you want your content to rank well. In addition, it’s important to remember that keywords don’t translate directly from one language to another, and many won’t make sense when translated verbatim.
Mistake 6: Irrelevant Content
There is much more than words to consider when localizing an app or website. Your content’s tone, length, and structure will vary depending on where you’re targeting your product, suppose you’re selling financial services products, such as insurance or mortgages, in some countries. In that case, you will need to comply with regulations around how much information you can provide before asking someone to sign up for a product they need help understanding.
Mistake 7: Not Testing the Translation Thoroughly
To avoid these mistakes, you must thoroughly test your translation. This is especially important if you are translating from English into another language since many of the errors above are more likely to occur when translating from one language.
To test your translation thoroughly:
- Test it on real users — ask them to try your game and see whether they understand what’s written.
- Test it on different devices — make sure all the links work and everything loads on mobile phones, tablets, and computers with other operating systems.
- Test it on various platforms — ensure it works across all social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Mistake 8: Missing the Big Picture
This is perhaps the most obvious mistake on this list, but also one of the most common — and important! If you’re going to go through all the effort of translating your content into other languages, make sure you do it right by using a professional. Suppose your website has poor spelling and grammar. In that case, it will make you look unprofessional — which is the last thing you want when trying to market yourself or your business.