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Case Study: How Whatspot Broke Free from Spreadsheet Localization

· 8 min read
Marketa Chalupnikova

whatspot testimonial Whatspot, a simple yet powerful online booking system for businesses, has set out to transform the way organizations manage reservations. Marek Lustyk, a determined Product Manager, is in charge of this effort, guiding Whatspot toward success worldwide. Whatspot offers a streamlined reservation experience. From booking meeting rooms to company cars or parking spaces, Whatspot simplifies it all. With just a quick scan of the QR code on your mobile phone, you can instantly check the availability of a meeting room or company car. If it's open, booking is as easy as two clicks.

From Simple Plugin to SaaS

Whatspot's story traces back to its roots in a social enterprise, Ergotep, a company where they work on multiple projects, whether they are social or commercial. The journey began with an in-house reservation system, a modest Joomla plugin. Surprisingly, it quickly became the most favorite tool within the whole organization. Its simplicity and user-friendliness won the hearts of the team.

Towards the end of 2020, Marek and his co-founder saw the potential in transforming this internal app into a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform and sharing it with the world. At that time, Ergotep was thriving, which gave them the confidence to extend the tool to the other partner companies. They started with a humble website and launched the tool on Capterra. Even though the reservation system was quite an MVP (minimum viable product), it gained rapid popularity.

whatspot page

Whatspot’s development team may be small, with only six dedicated members, some working only part-time, but their vision is big. They serve over 500 organizations and companies worldwide, with countless individual end-users, and they continue growing fast. From day one, Marek believed in the global potential of the product, so they launched it in English right from the start.

Why Spreadsheets Fail in App Localization

In the beginning, Whatspot's journey through software localization was quite a rollercoaster. They decided to go with a seemingly simple solution - shared Google Sheets. While it might seem like an easy tool to use, this method presented significant challenges for their app localization. They soon realized this journey was not as straightforward as they had imagined.

Quick fact

Spreadsheets are still, unfortunately, often used for software localization. Even using basic spreadsheets like Excel, Numbers, or Google Sheets may seem the most straightforward way to prepare your strings for translation, the opposite is true. Unfortunately, this way, you lose all the essential context while translating only in table rows of spreadsheets. You can read more here.

Initially, approximately the first 300 lines of translations were manageable. But as the project expanded, chaos swiftly took over. As they kept adding new features and texts to the Whatspot app, they couldn't keep track of new and existing translation keys. They were adding new lines of text, sometimes replacing existing ones or deleting them, which necessarily led to a tangled web of confusion. Ordering and sorting keys and files also became way too complicated, taking too much time and effort, and the mistakes were coming more often.

One of the biggest issues was the lack of smooth communication within the team while handling exports and different versions of JSON files. Sure, spreadsheets allowed for comments, but that didn't save them from the mess of different versions of files.

Another tipping point was when they realized the need for context in translations. Previously, translations lacked context, with no screenshots or links to the app page views. Translators were working in the dark.

Marek, looking back, admitted it was a far-from-great approach to app localization. In fact, it was unsustainable, so they went on a quest for a better solution to do the work finally right.

whatspot app

Transforming Translation Chaos into Clarity

Whatspot registered to Tolgee this year in February and is using it to translate their website and app. What was the driving force behind this shift to Tolgee? The primary goals were straightforward for Whatspot:

  • achieve a well-arranged administration of translations
  • ensure translation backups
  • establish a shared workspace

Software translation is a team effort in Whatspot. Zdenka, the HTML/CSS specialist who oversees all translation tasks at Whatspot, starts by preparing the language in Tolgee and using DeepL for initial translation. They've got a native British speaker to handle English, but fine-tune it in Tolgee if needed. For other languages, they also collaborate with colleagues who are native speakers of various languages to get the translations just right. Screenshots in the app provide them essential context for accurate translation. One of the standouts features that Zdenka highlights is the user-friendly interface of Tolgee. For a team dealing with the complexities of software localization, this user-friendliness significantly eases the burden. It's not just about ease; it's about efficiency. Zdenka also believes that the key is to not just make the process of handling multilingual applications and websites manageable but also sustainable.

"Tolgee impressed me for its simplicity. Working with it is user-friendly, which significantly helps and simplifies the sustainability of multilingual applications and websites. The main advantage is a shared work environment and the possibility of writing comments. Overall, I'm working well with Tolgee and I wouldn't never want to go back to the old way of processing language spreadsheets files."

One of the game-changing aspects of Tolgee has been its ability to resolve conflicts while importing new files. This ensures that their translations are always up to date. "Tolgee's ease of use, along with features like tags, filters, and collaboration, made localization a pleasant experience. Everything is neatly organized, and machine translation works like a charm." Marek says that the integration with Tolgee was quick, without any hiccups. More importantly, it saved a lot of time compared to their previous spreadsheet-based approach. "We plan never to go back to the previous Google Sheets system" says Marek.

"Very intuitive and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate and use, even for those who are new. Collaboration with others is great. I invited a colleague, and she was able to understand so quickly what to do. Fast and easy integration process. Great support! Just love it."
Whatspot Capterra review of Tolgee

tolgee platform whatspot

How Localization Fuels Whatspot's User Acquisition

Localization is at the heart of Whatspot's global strategy, as they have successfully translated their web platform into 10 different languages.

Marek estimates that around half of their user base in non-English speaking countries, particularly in markets like France and Spain, would opt for alternative solutions if Whatspot was unavailable in their native language.

He's convinced that localizing their app is crucial, especially for their primary audience: everyday end-users and company employees who need to reserve meeting rooms or parking slots, not just the managers or admins who most of the time speak English. Localization ensures comfort and accessibility, driving Whatspot's success in local markets.

Whatspot's localization efforts have proven their worth, especially in regions like Latin America, where the availability of the platform in Spanish and Portuguese has greatly facilitated user adoption.

Surprisingly, even though Whatspot is from Czechia, they only have a few Czech customers. Most of their users are from Benelux, the USA, and Spanish-speaking countries. Looking forward, Whatspot is exploring the possibility of adding Korean to their language options. They see a promising market opportunity, and introducing Korean translations could be a strategic move to tap into it.

Unexpected Turn: Whatspot Speaks Georgian

It all began when a Georgian company got in touch, expressing a strong desire to have Whatspot available in their native language. This unexpected partnership not only showcased Whatspot's adaptability but also its commitment to serving users from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

What makes this story even more intriguing is that the Georgian company didn't stop at the request; they actively collaborated with Whatspot on the translation process.

georgian whatspot

Tolgee: Your Partner for Localization Success, No Matter Your Size

Since March, Whatspot has been a trusted Tolgee customer. Unlike some companies backed by external VC funding, Whatspot's growth may be slower, so they reached out for a startup discount. If you're also a bootstrapped business, contact us for a possible discount.

However, we've got options for everyone. We offer a free plan with up to 1,000 translation strings suitable for smaller projects. Then, you can upgrade to a pay-as-you-go plan based on your translation needs. If your project is open source, we'll be happy to support it with a free Business subscription. To get this offer, reach us by email or by DM in our Slack community.

So, if you are still using spreadsheets for software localization, give Tolgee a try! Sign up and simplify your translation process today.

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