If you’re of the opinion that localization isn’t crucial to the growth and success of your app, consider the following. After localizing their app, coANDco (UK) Ltd received a massive ten times the amount of downloads than it had previously garnered. And as global mobile app usage increases exponentially, the need for superior software localization is growing by the day. After all, if you want your app to be welcomed with open arms, you need to seamlessly tailor it to every.single.portion of your market, regardless of their language or location. App Masters’ Steve Young sat down with Rubric localization experts Mai-Anh Peterson and Rachel Rener to discuss the ins and outs of mobile app software localization. Here’s what went down:
Software localization is the bridge that connects your app to a new market. In order to make sure it’s built properly, there are several factors to be cognizant of.
The aim of any localization effort – whether involving mobile app or tangible product – is to appear as if it was specifically designed for the market at hand. In order to achieve this, companies need to keep localization in mind right at the very beginning of the development stage. Localization that’s an afterthought, however, is that much more difficult, time consuming and costly. Localizing an app is much like that of any other media, involving the consideration of a number of – equally important – factors. These include regional sensitivities, colloquialisms, tone (formal vs. informal), religiosity, formatting of dates, times and phone numbers, as well as whether the destination language is read from left to right, as opposed to right to left.
Half-hearted localization won’t cut it.
Many developers make the mistake of localization a small portion of their apps, like the screenshot or a certain keyword in the Play or Google app store. Much like click-baiting – the practice of luring visitors to your site via a headline that over promises on the content (and that’s an understatement), localizing the tip of the iceberg, so to speak results in short-lived success. Their app may receive more downloads initially, but upon realizing that the reality is vastly different from what was advertised, will proceed to uninstall it and leave a negative review on top it.
The moral of the story? UX is everything.
When it comes to a localization effort that bears fruit, user experience (UX) trumps everything else (and we mean everything – even cost). It’s therefore your priority to ensure that every single user of your app feels like it was built especially for them; the fact that multiple users from multiple countries are making use of the app simultaneously shouldn’t factor in – at all. There’s nothing more damaging than disappointed and angry users, especially in an industry where reviews can make or break your success. And if your app provides anything less than a superior experience, they’ll lose interest faster than you can say “ROI is directly proportional to UX.”
For best results, localization needs to be an integral part of the inaugural development and design process.
It’s infinitely easier to localize an app right off the bat, as opposed to the finished product.This eradicates a number of issues, including superfluous text in the code, the accidental translation of developer’s comments, a font that’s not supported in the language of your target market, and more. In order to make your LSP’s (localization service provider) job that much easier, you need to make sure that your files are accurately encoded from the beginning. In addition, functional testing and linguistic testing need to be conducted throughout each stage of development. This way, you’ll be able to identify any potential gremlins from sneaking through to the final product.
The design of your mobile app plays an essential role in the software localization process.
A major influence on whether your UX equates to a five star rating or a pithy one star is the design of your app. For example, some languages are read from right to left (as opposed to English which is read from left to right). This can mangle a seemingly simple aspect of your design, like a “click here” button, for example. What’s more, when translated, a simple phrase like “clear all” might contain too many characters, throwing the display out completely. Your choice of colors and images is just as important as the linguistic factors; a color that’s seemingly neutral and without negative connotation may signify something that you don’t necessarily want associated with your brand.
But what happens when you want to expand your market, but have no idea how to get there? (Both literally and figuratively.)
There are several things to consider when thinking about taking your app to a new market. Firstly, is your app an add-on to an existing product or service? Is this available or in demand in the country or market in question? Who is your ideal user? Where do they exist? (For example, China is seen as an emerging power in terms of its mobile app market.) For those who want to expand the reach of their mobile apps, yet have no idea where to begin, Rubric offers consulting services to assist them in identifying potential target markets and then in aligning their particular app to the market at hand.
As Mai-Anh mentioned, the aim shouldn’t be localization that’s ‘good enough’, but a localization effort that’s good in it’s own right. In order to give your mobile app the best chance at succeeding in a new market, it’s best to work with an LSP who can guide you every step of the localization journey.
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