The chances are that you use a lot of apps that originally were not created particularly for your region. Luckily, the app developers have invested in localization.
But what is the first step to start the localization process and how to make your app ready for international release?
Let’s have a look at all the essential steps that the process involves.
App store localization
The localization of the app store content includes:
- selection of correct keywords
- localization of the app description
- localization of screenshots
Before we take a detailed look at each, we first need to answer this: why is app store localization so important?
Again, the main idea here is to attract international users and make the app appealing to them. When a user enters the app store and sees an application in their native language, this instantly increases the level of customer satisfaction and interest. An app in the user’s native language has more chances of being downloaded than an app in English only.
Now, back to localization. Let’s examine each point one at a time.
Selection of correct keywords
Keywords are a factor that impacts the app’s visibility and ranking in the store. Hence, it is important to pay close attention to their localization.
Different countries have different most frequently searched keywords, so this aspect also has to be kept in mind. When preparing content for the app store, it’s highly recommended to use specialized ASO tools that will show you the most popular keywords for the required country.
When selecting keywords, bear in mind that Apple App Store has a limitation of 100 characters for all keywords, Google Play Market has no such limitation.
Thus, you need to select the top-searched and best-performing keywords, which will increase the visibility of your app and attract the targeted users.
App description localization
Both Apple App Store and Google Play Market allow for multiple localized descriptions for an app. That means an app may have a default description (say, in English) and several localized descriptions that will be shown to a user depending on their location.
Hence, when you start creating an app description for the store, keep in mind all the necessary user groups and create your content accordingly. You don’t want just a plain translation of the original text — adjust it to a specific user group by using culture-specific words, phrases, jargon, etc. It’s also okay to add different app features to different descriptions, depending on the preferences of users.
Localization of screenshots
Another important aspect of app store localization is localizing the app’s screenshots. Imagine that you fine-tuned the app’s description and selected top keywords — but forgot to change the language in the screenshot. That would be a major fail, and could impact the number of downloads drastically.
Screenshots are the second most influential factor when it comes to app downloads. And it’s not enough to just translate the text of a screenshot — some countries may require a different color palette, the addition or alteration of visual elements, etc.
A good example of the benefits of screenshot localization is the localization project with Full HP Ltd, a famous mobile game developer. Both the app’s screenshots and description have been translated into Turkish and saw an 18% growth in user visits.
The data also showed that users are mostly attracted to screenshots and the text they contain; only a small number of users actually read the app description. After adapting the screenshots for the local audience, the number of user visits significantly grew thereby boosting interest in the app.
In-app text localization
The next critical and obvious aspect to take care of is localization of the actual in-app content. This means translating the text and adjusting it to a certain region or country.
While seemingly simple, text localization can be quite challenging. It’s not just about translating — it’s about making the text look “native” for the users. This means using specific phrases, words, and jargon that are common for a certain user group.
It’s important that you assemble an experienced localization team and cooperate with experts that specialize in certain languages. In addition to hiring professionals, don’t hesitate to reach out to the community and ask potential users to help you out (and maybe even serve as beta testers for your app). This way you’ll receive a 100% native translation. The flip side of this is that the community cannot translate massive amounts of text quickly, so the best option here is to combine translation by the community with professional app localization services.
A quick case study: localization of the InDriver app
InDriver is a transportation app, operating in 31 countries and supporting 11 languages, but this was not always the case. InDriver started out as a small local ride-sharing app and began to grow bigger, gaining immense popularity in many countries.
The biggest challenges that the InDriver team faced during localization were:
- Team decentralization: translators were responsible only for their part of the work and had no idea what the other team members were doing.
- Local market testing: the community was not willing to translate small amounts of text for a small fee while delivering excellent quality.
The InDriver team needed extra proofreading in addition to the community translation, so the Alconost localization team helped streamline the translation management process, including hiring professional translators for the rarest languages. As a result, the InDriver app was localized into 11 languages and now has a well-organized translation management process.
There are many aspects of UX/UI localization to be considered. To begin with, there are the various possible screen sizes and dimensions. If you target different user groups, there is a very high possibility they will be using different devices to access your app. While there is not much variety in Apple products in terms of screen size and dimension, Android devices vary widely, each having a different screen size. So in order for your app to perform equally well on all possible devices you need to plan accordingly.
Another critical issue is the layout. When designing an international mobile app, there might be different fonts and languages used, and that they may vary in length and size. Compare English and Japanese for example: Japanese characters (especially Kanji) are bigger, and they can be written either horizontally or vertically. Even one word in two different languages can differ in length: take “car” in English and “машина” in Russian. Thus, it is important to leave some space for possible spacing variations to make your app look good in any language.
And keep in mind overall design localization. Different user groups may prefer different color palettes or different visual elements. Take white, for example: while it’s considered a color of peace and purity in most countries, it can also symbolize death in China.
Such nuances must be remembered when adjusting the visuals of your app for different user groups.
Character encoding “explains” to devices how digital data should be interpreted into symbols and letters. If there are any issues with the encoding, certain characters will not be displayed correctly, causing a poor user experience and possibly even prompting the user to uninstall the app.
The most popular and common encoding is Unicode, which offers UTF-8 and UTF-16 standards. UTF-8 uses a single byte for each character, while UTF-16 uses two bytes for each character. Employing Unicode will ensure that your application correctly displays and supports the necessary languages without any surprises.
App localization is an essential process that should be included in your development process. It helps you to make your app truly global and give your users a seamless experience. Localization can make your users even not think that the app originally speaks another language. And following the above-mentioned steps can make the localization process painless for your team.