Special powers and complicated mazes: what do you need to succeed in localisation?
You don’t need special powers or magic rings to localise websites or games. There are other ways to remain invisible and exceptional. To make sure that products localised by you are fully aligned with the expectations of the target users you will need a mixture of technical, cultural and language skills that will help you avoid hidden traps and pitfalls.
Your special powers
A typical localisation project might be full of challenges, especially if you’re making your first steps in the localisation world. From tricky source files, through strict character restrictions to complex graphics – there are many traps and dangers awaiting the unwary translator. The key to success is to prepare for the risks and challenges well in advance. Before you start with the project, think about potential issues that can appear during the process: maybe exporting the final files in the localisation tool will turn out to be complicated? Maybe graphics will include embedded texts that have to be localised? Or maybe communication problems between you and your customer or other team members will lead to delay of the project delivery? Draw up a plan of action for the most likely issues to know what steps to take when the problem appears. No matter how serious the issue is, one thing is sure: you won’t go far with language skills only. To arrive to your final destination, which is a properly localised product, you will need the right mix of technical, language and cultural skills. With relevant IT expertise and knowledge of the cultural background you won’t need magic rings to make sure that the source culture in the localised product is invisible. Any traces of “importing” a game, website or application may confuse and discourage your target users, and that’s why “invisibility” of the original product plays such an important role.
Finding your way through the maze
Localisation is like a maze: it may seem chaotic and pointless, but in fact all you need to succeed is a set of simple rules. Maze specialists claim that you don’t need higher maths or logic to find your way out, as there’s always at least one entrance and one exit. All you need to do is to touch the wall with one hand and walk forward. If you hit a dead end, you’ll have to align your position, go a few steps back and then continue walking in the same direction again. The same applies to the localisation process. It can be tricky and challenging, but you need to go forward, towards the fully localised product that fulfils the needs of your customers. If you’re lost in a maze, you’ll need to leave a message to yourself, for example, by breaking off a corn stalk or a branch to mark the unlucky route. In the localisation process you can break your old habits and leave a message to yourself that will remind you that along with language skills, you’ll need to keep updating your technical skills and become a cultural expert.
Would you like to learn more about traps in a localisation project and find out how to overcome the most common challenges? You can check out this course on website localisation to learn how to prepare the source files for localisation projects, how to localise graphics, how to collaborate with your end customers and much more.
About the author: Dorota Pawlak
Dorota helps businesses, organisations and individuals to communicate successfully across cultures in the online and offline world. She is an entrepreneur and a qualified translator specialising in IT and localisation of websites, games and software.