Localization – How to address customers in different countries

What is it, what do I need it for and what do I have to pay attention to?

Localization is more than just translating digital content into another language. It is the transport of meaning, often on several levels, into another language, another culture. It is therefore much more than just raping a text with GoogleTranslate.

What is localization?

Originally, the term originated with the digital age, which mainly took place in English. Before that there were translators, proofreaders and editors. They still exist today, but with slightly different roles. Localization is needed when a digital content, be it a full website, a computer game (including press relations) or an e-book on any subject is to be made available for other languages.

In my case, as an employee of the games industry, the direction is clear. The development is basically done in English (at least for developers from Western Europe & the American continents) and the product must be delivered in a respective language afterwards, just like the advertising, customer support and processing.

This is where localization specialists come into the process. As a specialist for German and English, it is up to me to translate all content of the game (i.e. every text in the game, possible templates for audio recordings and also further media from the developer), the PR campaign and also other additional texts for the German-speaking customers from English into German.

It is important here to remain true to the message of the text, the content and the idea behind the formulation in the appropriate context and to transport it from English into German. And this is best done with a text of about the same size. Otherwise, the result will be texts that are either so small that they cannot be read, or that extend beyond their fixed boundaries, which we have all seen somewhere before.

Why do companies need content localization?

Localization is absolutely necessary to expand the customer base of a product. Even if it involves digital aspects, this does not limit the application to digital products only – even the advertising for a device on Amazon should be well thought out and linguistically optimized. Just as the website of a hotel with an international clientele or a company with an international product should be offered multilingual and in high quality.

Localisation Specialists are the solution for this. I am currently working in the games industry, but have also worked on medical books, various novels, articles, websites and CVs.

A good localization job involves not only the content of a text, but also the presentation of the same in the target language. Be it 1,000,000 users for a product in English, then by far not 1,000,000 users in German, but rather 1,000,000. Or a million.

What do I have to pay attention to for a successful localization?

The first step, of course, is to consider whether localization is even necessary. If it is a local aspect, that is rather not the case – the news about the construction of a pedestrian bridge in Lower Saxony does not have to be available in 5 languages. But it might help a winery in the Palatinate to offer the website and the order form in English, especially if the international shipping of the wine has increased in recent years.

So it is always a question of necessity and available means. I would always recommend to rather spend more and to get a good support, with questions and an individual contact person or direct contact to the specialist.

Another question is then what languages are necessary. This question can be answered by taking a look at the customer base and the correspondingly sorted sales figures. If you place a one-time order, the support is of course associated with additional costs. But various localization providers also offer continuous support. For freelancers in this field, all criteria and circumstances can of course be freely negotiated and fixed accordingly.

    Ich bin studierter Germanist, semi-studierter Fantasy-Nerd (Ja, meine Magister-Arbeit war über Fantasy-Literatur), Game Designer (Als Pen & Paper – Meister bzw. Spieler und auch für reguläre PC Spiele), Katzenbesitzer (Sie heißt Namira), Rollenspieler (auf dem Papier, am PC und auch mal am Wochende mit Leuten draußen), Übersetzer (als aktueller Beruf) und Geschichtenschreiber und -Zuhörer.

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