Whether you are an established app developer or a part of a small startup with a great new mobile IP, app localization is something you should look into. In short, application localization represents the process of retrofitting your code from English into numerous other languages. This is done to ensure that as many people as possible get to use your app, play your game or enjoy the service you provide with your software.
According to published statistics, 57% of all US online traffic comes directly from smartphone apps, with 52% of global online traffic originating from the same use. However, there is a right and wrong way to go about it. Let’s take a look at several essential facts and steps which you should be aware of before you jump into mobile app localization in order to stick your landing successfully.
Understand the “Why”
Before we dive into how you should go about localizing your app, let’s talk about why you should do that in the first place. There are several benefits to app localization apart from a growth in revenue (which is a big part of the equation). For starters, there should be a clear distinction between translation and localization. Typically, you want to avoid direct translation of your app’s UI and text elements altogether. Localization allows for adaptive translation depending on the cultural and lifestyle attributes of your users.
For example, people from Germany would understand an internal joke if you leave it in your app – but someone from China or Egypt might get offended by it. Note that you can always refer to a translation review website such as Pick Writers where you can find localization services quite easily no matter the niche. Once you understand the difference between localization and translation, you should be able to draw a logical line between the two and stick to the one that suits your app the most.
- UI Design with Localization in Mind
One of the worst problems in mobile app localization is to make sure that a single UI design solution works for multiple languages. After all, English, Russian and Greek languages, for example, vary in length, alphabets and wording. You should be clear on whether or not your app will be marketed to international users from the get-go.
This will allow you to create UI elements which will be modifiable down the line. Make the decision early on and you should be able to localize your content more quickly and easily if your UI elements are designed with different languages in mind.
- Choose your Target Markets
Another example of failed mobile app localization is stretching your resources too thinly between languages. You don’t need to feature a dozen language options from the get-go.
Choose a few tried and tested languages such as French, German and Spanish before diving into others. Focus on several languages which are bound to bring good response and revenue to your brand before expanding into other territories.
- Work with Native Speakers
You should never opt for DIY localization, no matter how confident you are in your app or language abilities. Native speakers and professional translators are well-aware of cultural and lingual differences between cultures and territories. Don’t find yourself in a situation where you launch an application riddled with spelling errors or wording mistakes which would never happen if you worked with native speakers.
If your budget is thin, you can reserve professional localization experts to at least go over your translations before you place them into your app’s UI. These specialists are the only ones who are capable of successfully localizing your app in order to make it more appealing and trustworthy to the general audience.
- Define a User Profile
When it comes to your overall wording and technical writing in the app itself, a user profile will go a long way. Teens and millennials who are tech-savvy will have an easier time using an app than an elderly man or someone with poor sight or more severe disabilities. This means that you should write phrases, language and instructions which are very clear, direct and informative.
The UI writing in your mobile app serves to educate the users and help guide them to their “Aha!” moment of discovery within the app. The clearer the writing is, the easier it will be to localize and more people will enjoy your creation as a result.
- Define your Support Strategy
Mobile apps typically come in two varieties – premium and ad-supported. Going the premium route might not be a good idea if you are a new player on the mobile market and have a low marketing budget and no brand awareness. Ad-supported apps are essentially free but bring plenty of revenue back through ads or one-time payments.
The business model you choose to go with will also define your long-term support strategy. You should make it clear as to how long you will be able to update your app with bug fixes, new content and different quality of life updates.
It’s worth noting that any new features or fixes to your app should appear in all featured languages at the same time. This means that you should keep further localization in mind as your support cycle goes along. The more committed you are to your app; the more people will want to use it, subsequently increasing your income and brand awareness.
- Ask for User Feedback
Lastly, it’s important to build positive relations with your user base from the moment you launch your app. Dedicated feedback or contact section should be available inside your app’s interface. This will encourage users to reach out with any feedback or suggestions in regards to your app and localization of individual languages.
It’s good practice to allow people who notice grammar or spelling errors to get in touch with you and simply point you in the right direction without you having to hire proofreading or QA staff. Give your users as many options as possible to communicate with you about the things they’d like to see improved and the favorable reception of your app will only grow over time.
Mobile app localization process is a small but significant part of the overall application design process. You shouldn’t approach it lightly, so it is advised that you use specialized platforms or professional translators in your attempt to capitalize on the global market. Map out a localization strategy that coincides with your app’s features and capabilities and you should make good progress in reaching new users across the globe.