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Why and How You Should Localize Your Mobile App

Mobile App Localization
Why and How You Should Localize Your Mobile App
on February, 16 2017
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So your company invested a lot of time and effort into developing a mobile app that isn't resonating with American audiences very much. The competition is stiff in the USA and the market is jam-packed with other apps that clamor for the attention of consumers. What to do? Consider launching your mobile app abroad so that you can appeal to new foreign audiences who may take to your app. With competition being less fierce in some other markets, you may substantially expand your user base as a result.

To penetrate foreign markets, you'd have to assemble or hire a mobile app localization team to translate your content to the target audience at hand. Be sure to hire a professional translation services company to carry out the localization, as translating your mobile app content goes way beyond a simple translation of words.

Localization experts translate and tweak many aspects of your app so that it suits the cultural understandings of the society in question. This can involve aspects such as color scheme, pictures, measurement systems, date formats and more.

If you're bent on localizing your mobile app using your own in-house team, there is a process to follow -- read on to find out more.

How To Localize Your Mobile App

When you've set your sights on launching your app globally, you'll want to reach as many people as possible. This means you'll have to take into account the Android and iOS platforms as you localize. In order to pull off a successful localization, you should become acquainted with the localization challenges inherent to the process, so that you can avoid them. Here are the basic steps to localizing your app without problems:

1. Externalize Your Resources

The resources, or assets, of your mobile app are the elements that don't consist of code. Data files, such as tutorials, images and content complement your app program's executable code. To pull off a successful mobile app localization, externalize these assets so that new translated versions of each file can be created.

2. Think Carefully About The Layout

You still want your mobile app to look professional when you pitch to the global market. This means you will have to work hard to tweak the layout of your translated mobile app. When you localize, take into account the length of the translated words and the fact that the target language will fill up the spaces of your app differently than the source language. Have your design remain flexible so that the translated version of your content fits.

Words in German, Spanish and French, for instance, occupy up to 30% more space than English. Other languages, such as Arabic, Farsi and Chinese, are written from right to left or vertically. Fortunately, Android and iOS offer resources for right to left and vertical layout use.

If you've designed your app with localization in mind, then it's likely you use a single set of layouts for your supported languages. If not, you'll have to create specialized layouts for languages that take up too much space or aren't read from left to right.

In terms of mobile app localization, the Android and iOS operating systems allow you to easily convert currencies, times, dates and other data that vary by country. Compatibility issues are thus avoided as you tweak the system to suit your target market.

3. Provide Context To Your Translators

Your translation team will need context to help them accurately translate your content from the source to target language. Be sure to send complementary information and resources in order to help your translation team do their work.

For example, should your translators have an understanding of spacing and layout as they translate, they'll strive to find the rights words to best fit the available space. At the same time, providing context to your translators will enable them to execute their jobs faster, as fewer mistakes are made.

4. Test Your Localized App

Once everything has been translated, you should thoroughly test your mobile app. Rigorously carry out linguistic testing and localization testing to identify any content or layout problems. Remember to use the translated app on several digital devices of different screen sizes to detect bugs. Your market research should help you find out what devices to use in the testing phase.

Standard bugs include breaks in strings and sentences, a layout that doesn't work and line wrapping. You may also come across content that hasn't been translated. You might have to create a custom layout when the language doesn't fit within the limits of your design. Test your app thoroughly, as it's always preferable that you find all the bugs before the app is introduced to the foreign market.

5. Optimizing for the App Store

Similar to SEO, app store optimization (ASO) is about you optimizing your app store content so that more people find and download your product. You'll need to research your target markets before drafting your optimized content and search terms for the app store.

Make sure to do a good job translating your app's name, keywords and description so that local customers can find it with ease. Also tailor your app icon so that it suits the Android and iOS platforms. The edges of the icon are square on Android but rounded on iOS, for instance.

Minding these five steps when embarking on your mobile app localization process will help ensure a smooth ride. Externalize your resources, think about your layout, provide context, test and optimize -- and watch your global app downloads soar!

AUTHOR
Denise Recalde

Denise Recalde is a Senior Content Writer at Day Translations. A seasoned writer and editor with eleven years of experience under her belt, she is a bonafide wordsmith who loves playing with the written word creatively and always takes care to lend a certain hue of snap and color to her drafts. Always one to rise up to challenges, she has traveled to 14 countries and has worked on a smorgasbord of writing projects that spanned several industries, from finance to health to beauty and fashion.

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