Localization Common Mistakes

Localization is a perfect example of a multitask project. With its many steps and project participants, a localization project can slow down or get lost quite easily. A localization project can book a lot of resources, and thus it is wise to know all the potential pitfalls and common mistakes. A well-managed project can save money, be ready on time, and be efficient in every way. So it goes without saying that good planning and the right localization tool choice can ease your work remarkably.

Here are some of the most common localization mistakes. Take a closer look at them and avoid all the potential challenges you might face in your localization project.

Localization common mistakes

Common mistakes from Localization Project Manager’s point of view

  • Full-time programmers are needed in the localization project. (This is the long, hard, and laborious way to localize software.)
  • Translation outsourcing requires too much work and communication. (Translation work can be managed in many ways. Find the one that fits best to your needs and resources.)
  • Sending files back and forth. (This is slow, and the risk of having the wrong version is huge.)
  • Using multiple file formats with translators. (Translators want to translate and not struggle with all the formats.)
  • Bad communication. (Communication is always challenging. Paying attention to make it better will be worth it in the end.)
  • Outsourcing translation work to the cheapest agency. (Cheap can be good, but quality and expertise should be more important.)
  • Outsourcing every project to a different agency or translator. (Long-term relationships ease everyone’s work and eliminate the need for repeated explanations and familiarization.)
  • Too strict milestones for a large project. (Like they say: Rome wasn’t built in a day.)
  • No tools or mechanisms for quality assurance of the translations and localized products. (You need to be able to evaluate the outcome.)
  • No understanding of whether the material for different languages is up-to-date. (If the project manager doesn’t know the situation, nothing will be easy.)


Common mistakes from Software Developer’s point of view

  • User interface requires editing after translation. (Thinking of localization when creating the original software or document eases the localization project a lot in the future.)
  • There are images that contain text in the software. (If all the texts are separable, the management of localized versions becomes a lot simpler.)
  • Embedding text directly to the code instead of separate resource files. (Localization is very slow if you need to first find the texts in the code.)
  • Assuming every language has the same grammar as English. (Languages and especially grammars are difficult. Without a possibility to insert all kinds of prefixes, suffixes, and other grammar elements, the localization work is nearly impossible.)
  • Assuming every language is as concise as English. (The translation can be remarkably shorter or longer, depending on the target language.)
  • Using hard enters in the middle of strings (When the language changes, the original alignment in the UI will not work anymore.)
  • Assuming numbers, units, dates, and times don’t need localization. (1,000 miles or 1,609 kilometers? 3.20.2014 or 20.3.2014? 13:00 or 1 p.m.? Localization is more than words. It’s all about adopting the complete culture.)
  • Using wrong character set. (In different environments, characters look bad or aren’t displayed correctly.)
  • Missing automated tests for the localized version of software. (In the worst-case scenario, a small mistake can prevent the software from working. Use all the help you can.)


Common mistakes from Translator’s point of view

  • Not getting or understanding the context. (Context defines the tone, style, and word choices. It’s a lottery to translate without knowing the context – and it surely leads to many review cycles and corrections.)
  • Not asking questions about unclear issues. (The translation quality is the sum of many things. Asking is a sign of a professional, because it minimizes the risk of misunderstandings.)
  • Assuming that every word has only one possible translation. (Synonyms enrich the language and create the tone.)


Some of these issues are eliminated automatically if you use a specialized localization tool, such as Multilizer. A localization tool can perform many tasks automatically; for example, it can take care of the validation and file format management. Still, people are needed in every localization project. The project participants and the processes rarely become organized without any leadership and management. Thus the most crucial mistake is to have no one in charge. A project manager and a clear plan will save you from many problems during the project.