With a majority of humanity owning a mobile phone, it’s clear that the mobile audience is larger than ever even as it continues to grow. This audience comes from around the globe, so you’ll only be reaching a fraction of potential users if you limit yourself to the English language.
North America, in fact, represents less than a third of worldwide app revenue, underscoring the need for accessibility regardless of language. Mobile app localization goes beyond a simple translation to provide a user experience designed for an individual’s unique culture. In fact, it’s an essential part of any Android or iphone mobile app development process. Here’s what you need to know, starting with the main problem localization solves and then moving into how to localize your app appropriately.
The Problem Isn’t Just Language – It’s Cultural Differences
Good localization goes beyond simply translating copy or making your application available on foreign app stores. When done well, different localizations will adjust relevant aspects of the app depending on any cultural and social norms or meanings unique to a given country.
Seemingly minor features such as colorization, the use of symbols, or informal language can significantly improve the user experience for those in other countries. The Japanese word for “four”, for example, can be either “shi” or “yon” depending on context, as “shi” means both “four” and “death.” Localization makes the small changes necessary to make your application seem natural to a native speaker.
How to Localize Your App
The first step in app localization is creating unique listings for each version of the application, including screenshots and details in every target language. This could also mean adjusting features like currency displays and graphics depending on your needs and the type of application you’re working on.
You’ll also need to hire a translator or team of translators for each language you want covered. While it may be tempting to save money and cut corners on translation, an established, reliable translation firm is typically well worth the money—an accurate and fluent translation will appear much more professional to your users.
After you’ve localized your application for every country you’re planning to release it in, you’ll need to test it and fix any problems that come up. Try using the application on a variety of both Apple and Android devices to make sure that the user experience is reliable and intuitive.
Beyond testing, you can further promote your application by optimizing its keywords based on each target market. When done effectively, this will make it more prominent in the results when a potential user searches for the words you’ve chosen. You can revisit these concerns after the application has launched if they don’t seem to be effective.
The Benefits of Localization
The most obvious benefit of localizing your application is the opportunity to attract customers from countries around the world, giving you the largest user base possible. Furthermore, each time you go through the localization process, the next one will be easier, increasing your ROI with every country you expand to.
On the other hand, localization poses a few unique challenges that every business should be aware of. First and foremost is its high cost, which can backfire if your application isn’t successful internationally. You may also find your team is spread more thinly when it’s responsible for multiple versions of an application.
App localization opens up your program to an exponentially larger set of mobile phone users and should be considered by any team working on a new application. Once you’ve translated and formatted your app for foreign markets, you’ll start seeing higher profits and greater outreach to new customers.