The world is globalizing at a fast pace in many aspects. People, technology, cultures, goods and services are crossing borders more and more with less constraints. This is made possible by the decreasing costs for international transport the last decades, combined with the democratization and digitization of the media.

Since the start of the Covid-pandemic we can see a second trend that is challenging businesses and governments to address their customers and citizens in an understandable and effective way. This trend is the Digital Transformation of the workplace, the marketplace and the public space. 

Globalization means localization

These trends offer great opportunities for software companies to grow their business globally. But it comes with great challenges. In many industries you can’t just ship your software globally with only an English user interface. Some countries require by law that you translate your software to the officially spoken language if you want to roll it out. And in some industries a low educated workforce has to operate your software, while not everyone has had the chance to learn English properly.

This is why the localization industry is growing fast, with an actual market size of 24 billion USD. For every translation job in any language an agency or freelancer can be found. But beware that the translation of a software user interface (UI) is error prone. More than translating a blogpost or a product description. The latter two are generally longer texts, where an ambiguous meaning of a word can easily be clarified by looking at the rest of the text.

Translation of software

The words in a Software UI are mainly isolated words or short expressions. In practice this means that for every ambiguous term a translator should have knowledge about the functioning of the software application to choose the right wording. Most of the time in these localization jobs – where translators get paid by the word – one won’t think too long and request clarification by sending a query to the development team.

A programmer is of course willing to provide clarity, and he will probably do a walkthrough of the application, making a screenshot of the specific screen of the string in the application that needs to be translated. He will possibly even write a short description of the specific occurrence of this term and adds this entire feedback in a Jira-ticket for the translator. This will take him 15 minutes on average for every query. And you can imagine this query will be done by more than one translator if the company really has global ambitions.

Benefits of visual context

How efficiënt would it be if the visual context for every string was already available from the beginning? What if a translator had a preview for every string he is translating? And what if the in-country reviewer could make use of those same screenshots? We can tell you by experience: very efficiënt.

Rigi has developed a unique feature for the localization of software applications, which can provide a dynamic preview of any screen or screen variation in an app. Benchmarks at our clients have shown a dramatic decrease in the time needed from developers for clarification and for answering questions from linguists. From a few days of work to only a couple of hours for a regular software update as one of them told us. Imagine the hidden costs that are saved for this developer, and imagine the time that is freed to actually develop software instead of answering questions.

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