There is a question for almost any developer: expansion on markets of various countries. But it’s not enough to only place an app on a foreign market, you should also localize it. It’s not just a translation, as it may seem, it’s a far more complex process. This article is dedicated to mobile app localization.

What to start from?

It’s a big mistake to write out into a separate file all the words and phrases from the app and give it to a freelancer. Though, at first, it may seem a fairly good decision. But no, with such an approach you’ll get an unacceptable result, a complete failure on a foreign market.
You should make up a detailed plan of the localization process before getting down to translation. Firstly, it’s necessary to make a detailed description of an app, its functions, and its peculiarities. This way translators will know what this app is intended for.

Further on you should prepare all the texts for translation. Try not to miss a word, check everything thoroughly, and add all the words to a separate file. After finishing this work, you’ll have a primary set of documents that you can hand over to the translators.

Basic language — English

Entering an international arena, publishers usually choose several countries, so they need localization for each of them. In order to avoid problems with translation, choose one basic language so that translators can translate the app to their own language. In the majority of cases, English is the best choice. It’s the most widespread language.

Moreover, in some cases, when app functionality isn’t intricate or occupies a specific niche, English is enough. It’s not necessary to make a translation for a flash-light, compass, or calculator app. Users will get it by themselves. But you should take into account national peculiarities: for example, in France, people don’t like English a lot, so localization is necessary there.

Don’t hurry to translate the app into all possible languages as there’s no sense in entering markets of some countries. The number of potential users is so low that even with high conversion rate income won’t cover expenses for translation and promotion.

Localization is more than translation

Why can’t you just translate all the words in the app? The final goal of localization is not a translation, but an adaptation for a definite country. Each nation has its own unique features. So localizators should take them into account.
Localization, unlike translation, includes even mentality investigation of other countries. Sometimes you’ll have to change not only text but also design elements, for example, colors or even functionality.

English is one of the most laconic languages. Designers should take into account this peculiarity on the stage of app development. There should be additional space for phrases in English so that you can place there longer phrases in other languages.

You shouldn’t forget about other aspects:

  • Date and time formats.
  • Right list sorting.
  • Local measurements.

Trust but check!

You can’t foresee all these moments by yourself. That’s why you should work thoroughly on them with native speakers. It’s necessary to make a check and testing after translation. Sometimes, it’s better to create focus groups for work on mistakes and enhancing the translation.

Check the content thoroughly. Many words may be translated in different ways, especially apart from context. That is the reason for checking adequacy of translation in the app environment. You can engage proofreaders who evaluate texts and make notes for editors.

Interaction with translators

As a rule, native speaker translators work distantly. It may be difficult to settle the working process with them if you can’t work at the same time with them because of the difference in time zones.
You should also pay attention to technical moments. Having optimized the working process, you’ll significantly shorten the time for localization. You’ll need additional technical means as task and text exchange via email isn’t a way out. There is service which make the process faster and easier.

These tools help to upload initial data in different formats, make notes on screenshots for translation, control translators’ work, etc. You can use tables in Google Drive for smaller projects. We’d like to mention the Pootle system as well as it’s created especially for a translation of different interfaces, including mobile apps. Besides, you can use it for controlling the translation process.

Marketing localization

It’s not enough to only translate an app for entering an international market. You should translate it and adapt the description and screenshots in the stores. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to change the icon. You should use the same method here, taking into account the peculiarities of each country. For example, if you adopt an app for the Asiatic market and there are people’s faces on the screenshots, don’t forget to change them to the ones of the corresponding nationality.

Besides description and screenshots, you’ll have to totally adapt advertising materials: from app reviews to landing pages. It would be only logical to trust this work to the same translators who made localization of the app.

Undoubtedly, you’ll have to learn all the approaches to promotion in various countries as they may be significantly different.

Where can you go to?

You can find translators for app localization among freelancers. For example, on oDesk or Elance. But this approach is good on the condition you’re ready to organize and control all the processes. But in the end, you may not be able to save some money and you’ll surely spend a lot of time.

If you want to get a ready-made result and shorten the time for translation, it would be better to use the services of specialized agencies. The localization quality is better and you don’t need to put your efforts into it.

Mobile app localization is a hard and multi-stage process that demands a lot of attention. It’s necessary to translate a product in a way so that foreign users think that the app was created on their motherland. Think of all the details for the localization, take into account all the national peculiarities. That’s the right way for a successful expansion of foreign markets.

Read more about mobile app promotion