Just read an interesting article somewhat related to offshore on China success stories; while widely promotional and hardly unbiased that site offers great insight which could prove invaluable to those planning to outsource to China. The article Mind The Gap – Localization in China is about localization (L10N using common development lingo) and in particular soft and political aspects of it. “Localization is the process of adapting software for a specific region or language by adding locate-specific components and translating text, and it is further revised and expressed as “A process of planning and implementing products and services so that they can be adapted to specific local languages and cultures”. Yes, L10N means both linguistic accuracy and cultural fitness, the latter is even more important.”
I believe that localization, in particular in web world, is one of the areas which could be easily outsourced. It is also one of the rare areas in s/w development which is almost always better off to be outsourced. However, far not anyone who claims to have experience in localization makes a good partner. There are multiple aspects of localization which require skills, knowledge and expertise besides just knowing language and culture.
Some things are fairly obvious – your localization partner need to understand technology and its impact on multiple dimensions of localization. Some are less obvious, for example, consider simple fact – Russian words take approximately twice as much characters than English, that will have it’s impact on the size of the labels and inevitably on screen layout, which ripples into serious impact on usability.
If you are new to L10N, G11N and i18n or even if you dealt with it to some degree you may find the presentation put by good friend and long time colleague Doug Kunz quite interesting…