Frequently Asked Questions

What is Internationalization (i18n)?

Internationalization refers to the development of software (websites, applications) taking into account, from the very beginning, that they will be launched in foreign markets. This enables faster localization and prevents errors and re-engineering.

For example, if you are developing an application in English but you know that you will also want it localized it into Spanish, you need to make sure that the OK button is big enough so that the Spanish term, Aceptar, will fit into the button. If you develop the button taking into account only the English term, once you have the translation you will have to redesign the button, and this is a waste of time (and money) that can be easily avoided.

Also, if you know that your application will be launched in Asian countries such as China and Japan, you have to make sure that your code supports double-byte characters.

There are many more aspects you have to take into consideration when developing your applications. At Jensen Localization we can give you some guidance to internationalize your software and we can also put you in contact with other companies that specifically handle content issues so that your content is ready to be localized.

What is localization (l10n)?

Localization is adapting the source text to the language and culture conventions of the target language/country.

For example, if you are a company developing printers in the UK, the paper sizes specified in your printer driver will be in inches. However, if you want to sell these printers in The Netherlands, you will have to convert those paper types in cm, otherwise the users will not know which paper types your device supports.

It is the same with dates and time. USA and Italy have different ways of presenting the date and time. If you leave the US format, users may be able to understand that 05/25/11 means 25th May 2011. But what if the date is 05/07/11? Will they assume it is 7th May 2011 or will they think it is 5th July 2011? If they do not have another date as a reference like 05/25/11, they may get confused, and this confusion may lead to users stopping to acquire your products. So, why wait until this happens when you can easily avoid it by localizing your printer driver?

How important is localization? Everybody speaks English

From the beginning of the computer age, United States has been the leading developer of software. Without any real competition, the corporations did not have to localize their products in order to sell and gain market shares. With the mass acceptance and large number of personal computers in the early 1980s, the percentage of software written by non-U.S. companies increased. It created competition which relatively did not exist before. Having coexisted in multilingual environments for centuries, European companies realized long ago the importance of localizing products before computers and software existed. Once they began to develop software, they were aware of the need to make the products available in the languages of the target market. Whereas localization has been a necessity for doing business in Europe, American companies needed to be convinced that their products have to be adapted before launching it to the target markets. The increasing competition of non-American software products in the global market have been pushing North American companies to localize.

What can go wrong when localization is done incorrectly?

There are classic examples of what happens when localization is done poorly. Everyone knows about the Mitsubishi “Pajero”, that for Spanish-speaking markets would have been a fiasco, due to the sexual connotations of this term (related to masturbation). Fortunately, Mitsubishi decided to change the name for marketing their vehicle in those markets to “Montero” before launching it.

The consequences of poor localization can range from the comical (creating a bad image of a company, the product or the service it is marketing) to the incomprehensible (making it, for all practical purposes, unusable). Also, bad localization can cause grief for unaware users by excluding important information from the foreign-language version (usually to allow it to fit in the space originally allocated for English). Consequently, American developers are better off leaving their information in English than creating a "quick and dirty" localized version.

As with most things, it's difficult to overcome a bad first impression. Sometimes you do not get a second chance, so do not leave your localization and internationalization needs in inexperienced hands.

Why do I need the services of a localization company? I have a friend who speaks French, he can perfectly translate my website

Speaking a language does not make you a good translator. Not even being bilingual (having a high level of a foreign language does not make you a bilingual person neither).

Localization is more than converting words from one language to another; it includes technical knowledge, subject knowledge, project management, terminology advising, and many more issues. Will your friend be able to implement last-minute changes, or to tell you how to shorten a string that does not fit in a button? Will your friend be able to check all the links in your website and make sure that they take you to the desired page, or that there are no double spaces or spelling mistakes?

And what is more important, will your friend be able to do all this within a tight deadline? Or will he do it on his spare time, while watching a football match?

We cannot tell you what to do; you are the one deciding on the future of your business. What we know for sure is that poor quality localization will probably affect your expansion plans and will discourage you from approaching other markets and therefore missing important sales opportunities.

Just have a look at this article as an example:

What must be done to achieve localization?

It's fairly straightforward. Find experienced people to do the job. It does not matter if this is someone you hired as an employee or a localization service provider to whom the project is being outsourced. Make sure to have the right people for the job.

Secondly, be committed and allocate resources accordingly. Regardless of whether the localization is done by in-house resources or subcontracted to a service provider, a localization effort consumes time and personnel. A technical expert of the firm, someone who is familiar with the product, its architecture, the programming language and its functionality, needs to be available to the localization resources. Without the product expert, localization will take longer and the risks of errors are infinitely higher.

Thirdly, be responsive to the questions, feedback, and suggestions from the resources. They have a wealth of knowledge that developers involved in a first-time effort can take advantage of.

Finally, be realistic. The source product was not developed in three days; do not expect the foreign language version to be available overnight. Depending on the product and the components that are being localized, quality localization may take some time.

When should I start the localization of my products?

Ideally, you should start localization at the same time you develop your product. Although this may delay the development, you will know in real-time the issues your developers will have to sort out in order to support all languages required.

If you start localization when your application is final, you will probably have to do some re-engineering to accommodate all languages, and this will cost you time (and money).

How long does the localization process take?

It very much depends on the project features, such as the language pairs, the type of product, the platform, the tool to be used, etc. In general, one translator’s capacity is about 2000-2500 words per day. In order to preserve consistency and high quality, it is advisable to use the minimum number of translators, although a team can be built and use several translators to finish the job faster. Review and QA procedures will be reinforced to make sure that the quality is the same as using one single translator and reviewer, but obviously the costs will be higher.

How much will it cost?

Send us a sample, a definition of the work to be done and an indication of the quantity and we will contact you to discuss the details. We will ensure that you get the best prices, high quality and professional project management.

In which formats can Jensen Localization deliver a translation?

At Jensen Localization we use the latest tools available in the market to process your files in order to deliver you the translation in the same format you used for the original files or in a format that will enable you to enter the translation in the original application.

We have an in-house IT-team that helps our Project Managers to solve any issue with your files without affecting the original schedule.

How is confidentiality guaranteed?

Jensen Localization guarantees that no trade secrets are revealed. Jensen Localization is of course willing to enter a Confidentiality Agreement.