It’s no secret that mobile app localization is vital if you want access to global markets. If you’ve been studying the statistics, you’ll know that more than half the world’s mobile phone users are located in Asia and the Pacific region. You’ll have also heard that by 2017, the number of subscribers worldwide is predicted to climb to almost 5 billion. That’s a lot of subscribers. Which means a lot of potential clients who don’t speak your language.
The case has been well laid out for why you need to localize your mobile app for Android and iOS. Not only will you increase your ROI, worldwide sales and growth, but you’ll be assured access to continuous new customers from developing markets. So, you may have some idea of how to start your app localization.
But how do you make sure that you do it correctly? How do you make the most of your mobile app localization to raise your visibility in the App Store, increase downloads and create an optimal user experience?
1. Prepare Your App Localization for iOS and Android
With a staggering 1 billion Apple devices around the world, it’s pretty clear that you’ll need to localize your app for iOS. But Google Android’s figures are even higher, with more and more well-known brands, like Samsung and Sony, creating smartphones to rival the likes of Apple’s iPhone. Whichever system you prefer for personal use, one thing is for sure; you’ll need to be prepared to localize your app for both iOS and Android.
You can do this the easy way or the hard way. You can take a platform-specific approach for both systems and make use of platform-specific tools for the localization process. But, if your app shares the same functionality and content, then it’s much more efficient to share the data between iOS and Android platforms.
If you’re familiar with iOS’s XCode and its “Base internationalization” feature, then you’ll need to abandon any ideas you have of using it. If you want to avoid conversion headaches later on, it’s a lot easier if you prepare your app for both platforms from the start. Generating the right strings for your iOS app, that are correctly named and prepared, is completely useless to you if you want to use the same file in your Android app.
2. Design Your UI to Handle Foreign Characters
You’ll need to make sure that you design your UI to accommodate foreign character sets, including different symbols, accents, and RTL languages. Remember that a key element when designing your UI to accommodate different languages is the issue of space. You’ll need to make sure that you leave ample room in your interfaces to be able to accommodate languages that take up more space.
For example, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German take up almost 30% more room than English. You’ll need to think about this for languages that read vertically and RTL as well. Both iOS and Android have extensive resources on how to localize your mobile app to support RTL languages.
Check out the advice from Android and iOS before designing your UI for these languages. You’ll find invaluable tips and requirements that you need to know, such as mirroring your interface and changing the text direction. Remember that language localization from RTL doesn’t include country codes and telephone numbers, which always read from left to right.
Providing an optimal user experience in all your target languages is imperative if you want to increase downloads and app adoption. If your design appears broken, the text goes outside of the lines, or simply doesn’t read right in their language, then with just one tap of their fingers, it will be deleted. Some 77% of users never use an app again after just 72 hours of downloading it. Be part of the other 23%.
3. Provide a Positive Purchasing Experience for All Buyers
Make the most of your mobile app localization project by creating a positive purchasing experience for buyers in their own language. Carry out the extensive research you do in your home market overseas. Know your foreign customers’ tastes and preferences.
After all, you create a positive purchasing experience for your buyers at home. You optimize your content, make use of social proof on your website, are active on social media, and maybe even use influencer marketing. You offer competitions and engage your customers on your home turf. So, why wouldn’t you do your very best to provide the same satisfying experience for your foreign clients?
If they don’t feel like you’ve studied the market (if you haven’t, in fact, studied the market) then they won’t download your app. They won’t even find your app in the first place, if you don’t optimize your translated content. So, whatever you do at home to create a positive purchasing experience, make sure you mirror that in your target language markets as well.
Localize your texts and images appropriately to ensure adoption in different cultures. Make sure that prices are displayed in local currency. Thank about dates, weights and other measurements. Appeal to your customers through targeted social media campaigns. Adapt your offers to meet different legislation and to cater to diverse cultural nuances. Make it worth their while.
4. Establish a Strong App Localization Team
Mobile app localization is a big task. From original design concept, to extracting and converting files, translating texts and localizing icons, colors and images. You need a strong team able to work well together across different disciplines. Whether you decide to use the services of an external consultant for your market research, or conduct investigation in-house; you’ll need to know how to utilize the data efficiently.
Programmers and developers must be aware of their roles, and be able to communicate well with the translators and product managers. If you’re hiring a specialist for help with content optimization and different search engine requirements; make sure that they communicate the keywords to the translators.
The best way to ensure that your localization team works harmoniously together is by using the right translation management software. Your programmers should be able to upload screenshots for translators and provide context where needed. Your product managers should be able to tag people and leave notes and requests that can be seen by everyone. You need your team to be able to collaborate openly and easily, to ask and answer questions or express concerns.
To make the most of your mobile app localization, you’ll need a united team who can see the project through from start to finish, so that when your app is ready, it doesn’t disappear into the sea of similar apps already existing in the App Store.
5. App Store Optimization (ASO)
App Store Optimization should never be an afterthought. You should be layering in your keywords and optimizing your localized texts from the beginning. Once you’ve discovered the most popular search terms in the country of your choice, make sure that you use them. Think about the name and description of your app and how you can utilize keywords and phrases to ensure maximum visibility and downloads.
If your app is about finding the right vacation destination, remember that in England and Australia, they’ll be searching for “holidays” or “getaways.” If you’re offering a better solution to time management for Canadian customers, remember to keep in mind their spelling of English. Seemingly small mistakes in your ASO can make the difference between your app being a hit, or sinking like the Titanic.
Keep in mind the importance of your app’s icon from the start and how it will look on both systems (and at a small size). Try to avoid adding text to your icon, as it won’t be readable and may get lost, or end up looking unprofessional or blurry. Your app’s icon will probably come up at various stages of the localization process, and that’s because getting your icon right is vital.
When you’re localizing your mobile app for Android and iOS, make sure your icon looks good with both rounded edges and square edges. Color is also an important factor, so make sure that your chosen one doesn’t get lost against the user’s screen, and that the icon is culturally appropriate worldwide.
When it comes to selecting the category for your app, be sure to take your time. Selecting the right category is vital. It’s not always best to select the main category for your app, if the competition is fierce. A secondary category may go further towards increasing your visibility.
Test Your App on All Devices
Finally, if you really want to get the most out of your mobile app localization, then don’t cut any corners when it comes to testing out your app. Try it across different operating systems in different regions, and on different devices. Do your best to smooth out any bugs and make sure that no design is broken. If you want your app to be king of the App Store, it’s going to have to work perfectly, not just look great.
Also published on Medium.