Localization is what technical editors do to your document after it’s been translated. They localize the writing. Localization is the process of polishing the writing so that it is comprehensible to your audience without your audience having to spend additional time analyzing the writing. Localization may be accomplished by machines but it is often performed by people.
Translated + Localized = Reader Bliss
Obviously, translated and localized text is going to have a greater impact on your audience versus text that isn’t translated, or isn’t localized. Only highly motivated readers are going to take the time to use a translation service or tool, such as https://translate.google.com/ then take the extra step of deconstructing and reconstructing the not-so-great translation so it makes sense to them. The question you should ask is “is it worth the effort to provide my audience with a well translated and localized text?” In other words, will the effort to produce a better quality translation mean more sales, fewer customer support contacts, higher customer satisfaction, and higher review scores on social sites?
Non-informative, Misleading, Irritating, or Just Plain Funny?
Poor translations/localizations can range from not-helpful, to wrong and misleading, to highly irritating. It can inhibit your customer’s efforts to use your product or service. This can reduce sales and increase customer service contacts. If your users/customers find your documentation to be of low quality, will that same feeling translate to how they feel about your product or service? In general, you want all aspects of your product (web site, web application, email, contacts, support, packaging, documentation, etc.) to reflect positively on its quality. Poor translations can also be funny. Here are some examples: http://www.boredpanda.com/funny-chinese-translation-fails/
Product Inserts, Online Documentation
Many physical products include one or more paper inserts or provide online documentation on the company site or mobile application. This material should serve a purpose. The purpose is often; installation, configuration, maintenance, troubleshooting, or getting support. These materials should effectively answer the common questions your users/customer have. If they don’t, you may have wasted the time and effort to produce them.
Before deciding to ship a product with or without documentation, you should analyze the need for and use of the documentation. Does the audience need it in order to properly use your product or service? If so, it may be worth the extra cost to provide information they can use. I wrote a little bit about audience, purpose, and context here.