Preparing User Interface for Localization
Not only must content that appears in the user interface (UI) be localized,
but also the UI itself must be capable of displaying the content for each localization
instance. Here are some considerations:
- Size the UI to accommodate the largest localized version of the content.
- Do not mingle strings with controls, such as placing a text box in the
middle of a sentence. Doing so would require the localization vendor to
modify the UI to accommodate grammatical differences that cause sentence
structures to change.
- Avoid hiding or overlapping UI controls with other UI controls. Some
localization tools are not able to display each state of the UI to identify
conflicts with displaying localized controls. Also, adjusting the layout
of layered controls is more difficult than adjusting the layout of controls
that are not layered.
- Avoid placing button text in a string variable. Doing so might prevent
the localization vendor from localizing the string in the appropriate context
because they will not be aware of which button the string appears on at
run time. Instead, place button text in a property for the button.
- Avoid culture-specific images. A common example of this mistake from
earlier UIs is the use of the rural mailbox found in the United States
as an icon for mail. This type of mailbox is unfamiliar to some cultures
outside of the United States.
- Avoid showing flesh, body parts, or gestures. Exposure of some body parts
in one culture might not be acceptable in another. Also, using hand gestures
can present problems since an innocent hand gesture in one culture can
have an offensive interpretation in another.
- Beware of gender-specific roles and stereotypes in other cultures. The
roles for men and women vary across cultures. Also, the portrayed ethnicity
or race of an individual can also present problems. If displaying a graphic
showing people, it is safer to use one that does not indicate a particular
sex, race, or ethnicity.
- Avoid religious preferences. As with race and ethnicity, be very cautious
about employing the use of religious symbolism. Some symbols can be innocuous
in some cultures and sacrilegious in others.
- Avoid political symbols. In some markets, your application might first
require government approval. Avoid graphics such as flags or currency and
exercise caution when including maps that include disputed political boundaries
or contentious location names.
- Avoid text in graphics. Graphics that include embedded text are expensive
and timely to localize, as they generally require the localization vendor
to manually edit the graphic.