The App Localisation Process

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If you want international success with your app, you must make it available in other languages through localisation.

Did you know that English-speaking countries comprise less than 40% of the global app store market? If you only have your app in English, you miss out on many businesses.

To get your app ready for its new international audience, you need to localise it. This may sound daunting, but it’s a relatively simple process. This article offers a basic intro on preparing for your localisation, explaining the steps from development to releasing and marketing the application.

Planning your app Localisation

Even if the first version of your application is only released in English, or if you have no plans to release it in multiple regions, it is essential to structure the application so it can be localised simply in the future. It adds very little time to the initial development process. It ensures that releasing it can be quick and painless when customer demand for a localised version is satisfied.

Specific guides are available on localising apps for different platforms, so this article will not go into too much depth. However, the essential elements that need to be put in place are:

  • Externalise all strings, including error messages.
  • Provide comments for strings, ensuring that the translator understands the context of the translation.
  • Try not to use images that contain text.
  • Designing your UI with text expansion in mind – You can even use pseudo-translation to test your UI early in the process
  • Ensure the app’s structure has multi-lingual resource files, even for English.

Finding your app

One of the first steps in making your application available to a broader audience is ensuring potential customers can find it. Many developers forget that a large proportion of any app store’s users will not search for applications in English but will use their native language. So unless your description, app title and keywords are optimised for different languages, global users may never come across your software.

This can even be done before the application is fully localised to test out the interest for the app in any specific region. Once the description, title and keywords are localised, you can monitor the download statistics in the relevant languages and countries to gauge demand. This demand can then determine which languages to prioritise for localisation.

The Localisation Process

Once you have identified a demand for an application within a specific country or region, it is time to go through the localisation process. Assuming you have planned the structure of the application with localisation in mind, this should be a simple process:

  1. Translate the following into the correct language
    1. Text Strings
    2. Metadata
    3. Help files
    4. Any policies – Usage, Privacy, Terms and Conditions
    5. Licensing agreements
    6. Push Notifications / Live tile updates
  2. Localize any images/videos/voiceovers, ensuring they are suitable for the local culture
  3. Ensure any numeric symbols, date and time formats, and currency formats are localised
  4. Localize the actual App Icon, ensuring suitability for the local culture
  5. Localize the colours in the Application – Certain colours represent different meanings across different cultures

The complexity and purpose of the application will determine whether all of the above activities need performing or whether only text and symbol translation is required. When all application elements are professionally localised, you can maximise their potential for success within your target market.

User Acceptance Testing (UXT)

Before releasing your newly localised application to your customers, it is essential to go through a thorough testing process to ensure that there are no functionality bugs and no sections of text or symbols that have been missed as part of the process.

For the user acceptance testing to be truly effective, it should be done with an actual device rather than a simulator. It’s also best to complete this by someone who isn’t involved in the localisation process and can speak fluently in the language your app has been translated into. Doing so ensures that all potential issues are thoroughly identified and resolved before release.

A set matrix of tests should be put together to ensure that all areas of the localised application are tested, including the following items:

  • Linguistic Testing, ensuring that all the text and symbols are translated correctly and in the right place
  • UI Testing, ensuring that the text expansion has not affected the user interface and that the UI is suitable for the target market
  • Functionality Testing, ensuring that the app still functions as designed
  • Usability Testing, ensuring that users within the target market will understand how to use the application.

Releasing your App!

Once you have localised the application, the app store titles and description and tested the new app to ensure usability, it is time to release the latest version!

Suppose you are serious about making your expansion into new markets a success once the app is released. In that case, engaging with your new target market through localised press releases, multi-lingual support services, and a localised web presence is essential. This will assure the end users that if they pay for your application and there are any issues, they will not have to fend for themselves.

An undeniable connection exists between having a successful app and being in tune with the international market. This article has given you the basics for starting with localisation, offering critical insights into its development process, translating strategies and launch steps. The process may be daunting at first, but don’t be afraid – reach out to localisation professionals who can help you through every step.

A little bit of effort now will make all the difference when you open your app up to a whole new range of users ready and willing to engage with it. So let’s get started! Are you looking for someone professional to help you with app localisation? We can help! Get in touch today, and we’ll work together on expanding your audience potential exponentially by unlocking new markets abroad.

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