In this article, we will give you the answers to the questions you may have about App Localization and Key Reasons to localize your App.
The smartphone market has snowballed in recent years, bringing with it the demand for mobile applications, also known as “apps”. In this article, we are going to talk about App Localization, a vital instrument for companies wishing to expand internationally and to sell and market their apps to customers in various other regions across the globe.
App stores, such as the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, have become real relays in the distribution of Apps in other countries because they provide you with a convenient way to reach an international audience. The localized App will then allow you to enter a new market and increase your number of downloads, users, and the overall visibility of your App in that particular region, specifically by exposing it to a whole new user community. This is where the advantage of localizing your Mobile App comes into play.
Localization allows companies to open the door to an international market. App Localization helps you make sure that your App fits the needs of users who speak other languages so that everything from units of measurement to currencies and idiomatic expressions is optimized for them and their local region. The goal is for the Localized App to be perceived by a native speaker as if it had been made locally.
By ensuring that your App is appealing to users in a wide variety of locations around the world, you create tremendous opportunities for growth that you could never have achieved within the market of just one country.
And the numbers speak for themselves:
In 2019, global mobile app revenue amounted to over $461 billion. In 2023, mobile apps are projected to total more than $935 billion in revenue.
More than 90% of activities on a smartphone are performed using apps, which is why app localization is a must-have.
There are over 5 billion mobile users worldwide, with global internet penetration standing at 57%.
There were 178 billion app downloads in 2018, up from 194 billion apps in 2019.
China accounts for nearly 50% of global app downloads.
Machine Translation (MT) consists of programmes offered by services, such as Google, Microsoft, or Deepl that translate from one language into another. Although they have improved significantly in recent years, these systems still need to grow through the use of substantial amounts of content. This process involves “training” the MT engines based on large quantities of bilingual texts (content available in the source and target languages). Even though the process is somewhat faster now, owing to the recent introduction of Neural Networks, it's still expensive and time-consuming.
For example, Machine Translation provides good translations for short sentences, Chatbots, or technical texts. However, the quality starts to suffer when Machine Translation is applied to large content pieces with a specific context or writing style, such as marketing content, websites, or Apps.
Additionally, any Machine Translated text has to be proofread by a native speaker in order to assure the output quality and edit out any linguistic issues.
To successfully localize your App, a better option is to find a linguist from the target country or region you plan to localize for. However, it is incorrect to assume that any non-professional bilingual person will be able to meet your needs in this regard. Instead, you should turn to a service provider that understands the field and the specifics of your App and, as a result, will be able to provide high-quality App Localization.
Low-quality localization can discredit your brand and its message. Omissions, misunderstandings, and other mistranslations create distance between you and any potential clients using your App. Professional native linguists have the experience and skills necessary to adapt to the localization assignment, the context of the App, and thus faithfully localize any content in the App. The advantage of using a native speaker is that they will follow your specific instructions and stay true to an ISO-regulated localization process, resulting in a high-quality localized app.
When it comes to localization strategy, the first question to ask is, “Which market should we aim for?”
Thorough market research is a crucial element of a successful localization strategy. Through market research, you can narrow down the region(s) you wish to expand into, the languages you are planning to localize your App and its accompanying materials into, and the potential for ROI calculations and future brand strategy.
Successful Localization will always boost the visits to and purchases of your App for clients that speak the target language. The core decision at this stage will be to decide between the second/third/fourth best-performing language group of your customers and further boost the sales to it by localizing your App, or to localize into a brand new language, thus gaining clients from a region you were not present in before.
There are several ways for you to gather this relevant research information:
Analyze your current website and app traffic – which countries/regions your visitors and customers come from.
Analyze your competitors – which markets they focus on. Try to outcompete them, or enter a brand-new market niche with lower competition.
Sales data – which regions perform best for you and your competitors.
The popularity of the content of your App in the target region: you have to consider the countries where your App will attract the most users.
For example, if you have a football/soccer app, you may consider localizing your App for Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Germany where this type of sport is highly popular.
When entering a new market, you have to keep in mind that, besides a full localization of your App, there are several vital accompanying materials that have to be localized to capitalize on your localization investment and fully maximize your ROI.
App marketplace pages: The Google Play Store and Apple App Store are the two leading platforms that allow your users to discover your App and make the purchase. Those two platforms are the key to the success of your App in a foreign market, as they will be at the forefront of your customer's journey and will be the key to convincing them to make a purchase. They provide a critical feature summary of your App and inform the potential users about essential elements of your product. This is a business card and an invitation at the same time and this page determine whether or not a user will install and use your App.
App Website Localization: Another critical component will be your App's website. A modern website is an essential digital marketing tool. It allows you to achieve goals that are crucial to the success of your business abroad, such as allowing your potential customer to discover your product, providing extensive information about your App, blogs that cover various aspects of your App or topics related to it, convincing your clients to make a purchase and leading them to your App Marketplace page.
Generally, a good website will always be an asset that boosts your online visibility.
Additionally, you may want to localize other elements of your brand's ecosystem, such as:
Keywords - Market-specific keyword research as part of SEO
Video content - Subtitles/Full Voice-over
Images - Text within images/Marketing specific infographics ideally recreated for the target language and locale
Documentation - Technical instructions/Help material
Ads - Advertisements on all other platforms such as Google/YouTube/Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn
Marketing content - Journals/Brochures/TV ads/Blogs
Good Bicycle for mountains
Best Mountain Bikes
Weight loss Advice
10 Tips to lose weight
When it comes to App Localization, there are various criteria to take into account, one of the core ones being cultural differences.
Translation alone won't be sufficient for the Localization of your App; you need to consider the region or country it will be localized for beforehand. Each culture has its specifics, symbols, codes, and meanings.
For example, Greek or Arab people use a completely different alphabet than the Latin one, where the characters take more space, and, as a result, will most likely require changes to the interface elements to fit in all of the characters of that language.
As mentioned earlier, successful Localization is a process of adapting and translating your App for the target market, while retaining the functionality and the intent of the original App.
Some references in the source language of your App may not make sense when adapted to other cultures; for example, colors, which have different connotations from culture to culture.
In Japan, purple represents danger; meanwhile, in France, yellow represents infidelity, contrary to China, where it is a symbol of royalty.
Similarly, gestures that are considered harmless in some cultures may be offensive in others or may be misinterpreted by users of the App.
For example, a fist up in Pakistan is an obscene gesture.
In the U.K., crossing your fingers means wishing for good luck, and in Vietnam, it is seen as lewd.
Foreign censorship is prevalent. Indeed, it is not uncommon for the notion of what is “acceptable” for an audience to differ from country to country.
Some images are subject to censorship or editing because they are considered offensive or do not have the same meaning.
For example, in France, if an image with a person smoking is intended for a young audience, the cigarette will be replaced by a candy, for instance.
In the USA, there is also a lot of editing concerning the possession of a firearm. As a highly sensitive topic, censorship is widespread, particularly in cartoons, when a character is armed with a weapon.
This is also the case with blood, which will be removed directly from an image, as it can be shocking for the younger audience.
When it comes to iOS App Localization, Apple provides a highly sophisticated tool called Xcode, which allows you to simplify and streamline the process of exporting the code in order to prepare for Localization.
Additionally, Apple has a beneficial page when it comes to App Localization with various tips and processes to follow, check it out.
The Android platform offers more options in comparison to Apple when it comes to App Localization, which can be a benefit or a drawback, depending on your workflows and approaches.
The main suggestion from Google with regard to App localization is to use the so-called “strings.xml” file. As opposed to hardcoding the strings, Google suggests declaring all of your code strings as resources in the strings.xml file, which should result in the simplification of the whole process.
To further improve the translation process, provide sufficient descriptive comments for all of your strings, as they will be invaluable for the linguists working on the Localization of your App.
Here’s an example:
<!-- The action for submitting a form. This text is on a button that can fit 30 chars --> <string name="login_submit_button">Sign in</string>
Additionally, make sure you mark the parts of your strings that should not be translated, as this can prevent costly errors during the Localization Process. In order to do so, you should place the part of the strings you don't want to translate into an <xliff:g> tag
Here’s an example:
<string name="countdown"> <xliff:g id="time" example="5 days">%1$s</xliff:g> until holiday </string>
For further in-depth information on the Android App Localization, you can refer to the Android Developer website.
Identify whether there is a demand for your App and find opportunities to distinguish yourself from the competition.
Some websites allow you to research, analyze, and determine the perfect market location for your App. For example, by analyzing your data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console – you can evaluate the sources of your traffic, such as the websites and geographical locations that your visitors originate from.
Based on this information, you can narrow down the key languages that your visitors will speak and localize content for them.
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