Integrating localization in your design process

Finding the best localization workflow for your team and product is not easy. Here are two workflow suggestions.

Traditional localization process

Design and localization have traditionally been at opposite ends of the product development process. Product teams often start with a mockup, then create a UI that is sent to development. The Product is launched in one market and finally, translated and launched in new markets one by one.

Benefits: 

  • Fast time to market in your source language. Localization starts after the product is launched in your core market 

Downside: 

  • Rollout to all markets can take long
  • Risk of design breaks when product is translated into other languages
  • Design might not be suitable for other markets for cultural reasons
  • Potentially high costs for identifying and fixing localization errors and adapting the product to individual markets after launch
  • Risk of bad user experience and low adoption

We recommend this flow if: 

  • Your priority is quickly launching a mvp 
  • You operate in one core market and only few other markets
  • Your markets are rather similar in terms of culture 
  • You did not struggle with design breaks and localization errors in the past

Design localization process

Benefits: 

  • Catch design breaks at an early stage of your product development process
  • Get product feedback at an early stage of your development process from linguists and/or user tests in multiple languages
  • Immediate launch in all markets is possible
  • Low risk of localization errors in your product 
  • Low risk of a bad product-market fit

Downside: 

  • Longer time to launch as localization is integrated in the product development phase

We recommend this flow if: 

  • Your priority is delivering a great UX in all markets 
  • You want to launch in multiple markets at once
  • Your markets are diverse in terms of culture 
  • You struggled with localization design breaks in the past

For more information:
Download the Cheatsheet for Designers
Learn how to set up the Sketch Plugin

Learn how to set up the Figma Plugin
Read about best practices for localizing your UI in our blog