Seven Ways to Ensure Successful Mobile App Localization

The global mobile app market is projected to generate $188.9 billion by 2020, ensuring that app development continues to be a booming industry. The ongoing growth of the app market points to the next significant step that a business should take as part of its digital strategy – mobile app localization. Mobile apps can be used and downloaded anywhere in the world, so expanding to other markets through both iOS app localization and Android app localization is a worthwhile decision.

Consider the numbers: A study from Distomo discovered that developers who localized the text in their iPhone app generated 128% more downloads per country; those downloads garnered a 26% increase in revenue per country added through localization. Once the decision is made to localize, the next step is to partner with a skilled language services provider (LSP). Ulatus’ app localization services can help increase your app sales by more than 30%, while boosting its visibility in the app store.

Here are seven essential steps to help ensure that your mobile app localization is successful:

Make Sure that the Content is Culturally Accurate

Assuring that your content is culturally accurate is one of the most important aspects of app translation and localization. Every region has unique aspects of its culture; knowing what is specific to the target market ahead of time will make the localization process go much more smoothly. Many symbols, colors, and images do not translate from one country to another, making it necessary to select choices that are acceptable globally. For example, people in the United States use the okay sign to show that something is agreeable, whereas the same symbol in Japan means money.

Along with symbols and colors, there are many other elements that need to be culturally precise. This includes converting units of measure to suit the region, and paying attention to the country’s standards for dates, times, and addresses.

Create a Design that is Flexible for Any Language

Languages vary considerably in how much space they require. Translating from English to Japanese requires 60% more space, whereas a translation from English to Portuguese might shorten the text by 15%. In addition, different alphabets require varying amounts of vertical space, and some languages, such as Arabic, require the layout to support right-to-left text direction. Ultimately, the design goal should be to create one set of layouts for all of the regions you are trying to reach. Otherwise, the differences can cause the text to overlap with other design elements or make the content difficult to read.

Pay Attention to Metadata Translation

Good metadata is essential for achieving a high search ranking, which means that precise metadata translation is just as critical. An app’s metadata includes several elements, such as app title, description, keywords, screenshots, video previews, and website URLs. The level of detail and relevance of your app’s metadata will directly impact its visibility, as well as whether users decide to download your app.

Take Advantage of Resource Externalization

Data files, such as images, text, and videos, that will require translation should be added to external files, instead of embedded directly inside of the app’s code. Each text string will receive a unique name and translation value, resulting in translated files for each country you want to reach with your app. By taking this step, you can just develop new versions of those resource files for each target language. Then your code can load the necessary resource files at runtime.

Focus on App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) helps your app gain more visibility, especially considering that 65% of downloads in the iOS App Store resulted from organic traffic and searches. Similar to the process of search engine optimization, ASO uses localized keywords in the app descriptions and title to ensure your app is discovered by users and ranks higher in the app store than your competitors. When using ASO, it is important to make sure that you select the right search terms and have optimized content for each target location.

By localizing his app’s keywords for App Store, David Janner, saw 767% increase in the app downloads. The app started getting traffic from all over the world including China, Russia, Japan, France, and Italy. They received approximately 23,000 downloads in one month – out of which approximately only 2,300 users (10%) came from English speaking countries.

Concentrate on Pseudolocalization

Pseudolocalization verifies that your app is ready for the localization process. To do this, your resource file is loaded with machine-translated text to test the original design for various issues, including text expansion or contraction, hard-coded strings, different character sets, and strings that should not be translated. Checking pseudolocalized code before localization helps to avoid delays in the process, as well as additional costs, by having to fix mistakes later.

Ensure that Localization Testing is in Place

Following translation, it is necessary to perform a complete localization and linguistic testing process to discover any issues in layout or content. The testing environment should include various devices and multiple screen sizes. Rigorous testing can uncover a variety of potential errors, including breaks in strings and sentences, text that was not accurately translated, and issues with the user interface display.

And Finally, Don’t Forget Quality Assurance Testing

You have completed all of the steps to localize your app, and you are ready to launch it. However, before the launch, there is one final stage – quality assurance (QA) testing. In this phase, QA experts will check your app to make certain that that the translation is precise and the functionality is working at its peak. A vital part of this process is to have the software tested by a native speaker of the target language.

More than 5 million apps are available for iOS and Android devices; that number, combined with the fact that only 20% of the world’s population knows English, makes mobile app localization a critical part of attracting new customers. If you are interested in growing your mobile app business, localization could be the key.

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