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May 30, 2024

2 min read

How to Prepare Your App for Localization

With the advancements in translation technology, reaching a global audience is more accessible than ever. But simply translating your app's text isn't enough. To truly resonate with users worldwide, you need to localize your app for their specific language and cultural context.

Localization takes your app beyond translation, ensuring a seamless user experience that considers everything from date formats to humor. Here's a comprehensive guide to prepare your app for localization and unlock its full potential in new markets.

Planning for Global Success

Before diving into translations, set the stage for a smooth localization process. Here's what you need to consider:

  • Target Markets: Identify the regions with the most potential for your app. Research demographics, app usage trends, and popular languages in those areas.

  • Localization Budget: Factor in translation costs, cultural adaptation, and ongoing maintenance for localized versions.

  • Localization Workflow: Decide on an in-house or outsourced approach for translation and cultural tailoring. Consider using a Translation Management System (TMS) to streamline the process.

Building a Localization-Friendly App

While you code, keep global users in mind. Here are some technical aspects to prepare for:

  • Separate Text from Code: Isolate text strings (buttons, labels, error messages) from your code. This allows for easy extraction and replacement during localization.

  • Expandable Layouts: Languages like German tend to have longer words. Ensure your layouts can accommodate text expansion without compromising aesthetics or functionality.

  • Character Sets and Fonts: Support different character sets (e.g., Cyrillic, Arabic) and fonts used in target languages.

  • Date, Time, and Currency Formatting: Adapt your app to display dates, times, and currencies according to local conventions.

  • Right-to-Left Languages: If targeting languages that read right-to-left (e.g., Arabic, Hebrew), ensure your app's layout flips seamlessly.

Localization Beyond Text

Localization goes beyond words. Here's how to adapt other app elements for a global audience:

  • Images and Icons: Consider if visuals require adjustments for cultural sensitivities or to better reflect the target market.

  • Audio and Video: If your app includes audio or video content, plan for re-recording or subtitling in target languages.

  • App Name and Description: Localize your app's name and description for each target market. Use relevant keywords and adapt the tone to resonate with local users.

Cultural Nuances: The Key to User Engagement

A successful localization goes deeper than just accurate translations. Here's how to bridge the cultural gap:

  • Humor and References: Jokes or references in your original text might not translate well. Consider culturally appropriate alternatives.

  • Colors and Symbols: Certain colors may have negative connotations in some cultures. Be mindful of color choices and symbols used within your app.

  • Date Formats and Measurement Systems: Adapt date formats, measurement systems (metric vs imperial) to local standards.

App Store Optimization (ASO) for Different Languages

Don't forget about app store discoverability! Here's how to localize your app store presence:

  • Localized App Title and Description: Optimize your app title, description, and keywords for each target language's app store. Research popular search terms and tailor your content accordingly.

  • Localized Screenshots and App Previews: Use screenshots and previews that reflect the localized version of your app.

The Value of User Testing

Once your localized app is ready, get feedback from native speakers in your target markets. Here's how user testing helps:

  • Identify Usability Issues: Test if the localized text flows naturally and if the overall user experience feels intuitive.

  • Cultural Appropriateness: User testing helps identify any potential cultural faux pas that may have slipped through the cracks.

Conclusion: Localization - A Long-Term Strategy

Localization is an ongoing process. As your app evolves, ensure your localized versions keep pace. Here are some closing tips:

  • Establish a Localization Workflow: Develop a system for updating and maintaining localized versions of your app.

  • Stay Informed: Cultural trends and language evolve. Stay updated on relevant changes in your target markets.

By following these steps, you can prepare your app for a successful journey into the global market. Remember, effective localization is about more than just translation – it's about building trust and fostering meaningful connections with users worldwide. So, take the plunge, localize your app, and watch your user base soar!

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