If your product, website or app is going to be available in multiple languages, you should take translation very seriously. Done well it drives brand engagement and makes customers happier. Done badly and your designs could end up on one of those FAIL websites. Unfortunately, many companies focus solely on the English strings. They also assume that the results of the usual faceless, expensively outsourced translation process will bring back good results. A process where the only thing translators might have to refer to is an Excel spreadsheet containing thousands of strings. Wrrrrong. I’ve seen agency translations that make native speakers laugh with confusion and wince in disgust.
My suggestion is to leave translation until as late as possible in the design process. This ensures that the interface will be close to final and that the (English) strings are unlikely to change. Translators must be provided with as much context as possible for each string. There is no substitute to extensive screen shots or providing the actual latest software to the translators so they can truly understand the location and consequence of the strings. For your own peace of mind, find a native speaker and run through the translations on a one-to-one basis. At least for the most important screens or languages. This necessitates investment in time and resources to do this correctly but the results will be worth it. After all, language is a human thing rather than a mechanical process.
I'm Frank Gaine. Strategist, Designer, Manager, Founder, Educator.