Four Steps to Localizing your Mobile App

A great app is focused on user experience and the value it brings to your customers. You not only need to translate your app, but to recreate the experience for international audiences.

Factors to consider are internationalization, translation, image and video localization, etc. You’ll need to get your text localized, the design optimized for each market and research the habits of different audiences.

It’s not just as simple as translating your app for a particular market, but the rewards can be great.

Benefits to Localizing Your App

There is an enormous worldwide potential for your app.

  • The number of mobile phone subscribers globally has reached 45 billion in 2017 with more than half now located in the Asia/Pacific region. If you limit your app to one language only, your presence will be greatly reduced in foreign markets.
  • Almost 90 percent of activity on mobile devices occurs in apps rather than browsers. A study by Distomo found that developers who localized their iPhone app text generated 128 percent more downloads per country. This helped grow their revenue by 26 percent for each.
  • Mobile ad spending is set to reach $83 billion in 2017 and Digital ad expenditures surpassed TV for the first time in 2016 (recent eMarketer report).

App Localization Process

Localizing your app for as many platforms as possible will allow you to reach the largest audience.  The process is quite similar and follows these basic steps:

Design: When designing your app, it is important to consider how it will be impacted by localization. Some of the factors to keep in mind are:

  • Keep text to a minimum and use images as much as possible – reducing translation time and cost.
  • Allow for expansion of dialogs and buttons as length of translated text will vary.
  • Allow for different scripts: Asian characters, Right-to-left languages.

Resources: The resources of your app are those elements that aren’t related to coding, such as text, images, videos, or any other data files. Identifying and isolating this content will allow you to create different language versions more easily.

Translation: Translators should be provided with access to the app and all related assets (website, help system, etc.) for context and to ensure consistency. Careful consideration should be given to translation of your app’s name, description and any keywords that will be used by local users to find it more easily.

Testing: Once all elements have been localized it’s time to import back into your app. The language version should be checked both functionally and linguistically to ensure that it operates as per the source version and that there are no issues introduced by localization (eg. truncated text, overlapping, sort order, currency, etc.).

Adrian WallBlog written by Adrian Wall
General Manager
CETRA Ireland