Before you can enjoy all the benefits of launching your mobile application in multiple languages, there is one important question to ask. Why exactly do you want to translate and localise your application? Because everyone else does it? To follow the trend? Or is it that you truly believe or know that it will help you generate more profits? Once you decide to set on the localisation journey and spend money and time to reach the international market, you’ll need to give it your full attention or not to go that way at all. Sloppy mistakes or partially localised applications will do more harm than good. Here are some tips for preparing your app for the global market.
1. Select countries and languages wisely
Don’t focus only on the most popular languages or countries with the biggest number of mobile app users. Be more specific and see where your app has a potential. If your application is already available in one language, check your download figures, comments and reviews to find out about location and language preferences of your users. The obvious language choices (such as Japanese, French, Spanish or German) may not work for your application at all. User statistics may help you get the general idea about languages spoken by the majority of app users, but every application is different and localisation into a less common language (such as Polish or Greek) might be more beneficial than you think. Releasing your application in a language that was ignored by your competitors may help you gain an advantage and attract loyal users.
2. Forget about machine translation
If you really want to reach the global market, you’ll need more than just translation and definitely much more than machine translation. Your download figures won’t skyrocket if messages, buttons and notifications in your application are unclear and confuse your users. To adapt the content to your new audiences, you’ll need to work with professional translators and localisers who understand cultural differences and can adjust your application to the needs and expectation of your target users.
3. Make sure your app is localisable
To localise your app, you’ll need make sure that there are no issues that can delay or disable the whole localisation process. Look at the code to find and eliminate any hard-coded strings, concatenations or string dependencies. Make sure you use the right language encoding to support characters that will be used in your localised app. Separate the text from the code and, if necessary, add comments for any strings (e.g. file names) that shouldn’t be translated. This will help to assure functionality of your localised application.
Once your application is prepared for the localisation process, it will be easier and quicker to make it available for the global audience. And from there it’s only one step towards the benefits that come along with multilingual mobile applications.
What do you think are other steps that can help to prepare your mobile application for the global market?
(Photo by D. Pawlak)