Mobile app localisation traps to avoid in 2017

mobile app localizationIf you’re ready to localise your mobile application in 2017 to reach more users across the world and boost your revenue, take a minute to make sure you’re not about to make a mistake which could sabotage your localisation efforts.


Here are 5 mobile app localisation traps you should avoid in 2017.

1. Not localising your in-app videos

Videos in digital products will remain a powerful and desired medium also in 2017. If you want to create a great UI that engages your users, a catchy video is a must. Localising your entire app, but leaving the videos in the original version is a definite no-no. To fully use the potential of videos in your app, make sure your users in every region can understand the content, both from the cultural and linguistic perspective. For some types of content, you can only add subtitles, for others voice-over, dubbing or cultural adaptation will be more suitable, depending on your video and target users.

 2. Saving on linguistic testing

Attractive user interface, quick load times and intuitive navigation are all essential but not enough to grab your customers’ attention and gain their loyalty. Correct language, both in the original and in the localised version is as important as the functionality of your mobile product. Error messages or notifications left in the original language, grammar mistakes, typos or cut-off text may discourage your users. To make sure your mobile app reads well in every single version, run at least two linguistic testing rounds before you release your product in the app store.

3. Not localising your app store description

Even if your app is unique it may fail to hit the target if nobody knows about it. One way to promote your app is to create engaging app store descriptions. This obvious step is often ignored in the localisation process. If you already decide to localise your product, why not be consistent and provide localised descriptions as well? There are far too many app publishers who leave the description of the localised product in English hoping to catch attention of their potential users regardless of the language barrier. Well, the best way to appeal to your foreign users is to speak their language, both in the app and in the app stores.

4. Not mirroring your UI in the right-to-left languages

If you’re localising your app into languages that read from right to left, such as Arabic or Hebrew, make sure that the UI also starts on the right-hand side. There’s nothing more annoying than a partially localised application, especially if it’s confusing and inconsistent. Once you decide to launch an Arabic version of your product, don’t limit your efforts to the language level only. Not only the script, but also all the buttons, menus and controls have to be aligned to the right side, as this is the natural way to navigate the app for users speaking the right-to-left languages. A mirrored interface will help to ensure a consistent user experience and make the navigation more intuitive.

5. Using crowdsourcing instead of qualified professionals

It might be a popular way to deal with tons of strings in your app that have to be translated into multiple languages. But what’s popular isn’t always the best for your brand image and product quality. To avoid unnatural, awkward, or literal translations that may discourage your users and cast doubt on your product quality, collaborate with professional translators and localisers who will make sure that your app is not only linguistically, but also culturally adapted to your target markets.


You might have an excellent application that is intuitive and user-friendly, but if it’s not localised correctly it may fail to meet the needs and expectations of your customers in other regions of the world. So, before setting off on the localisation adventure, make sure you avoid the dangerous traps outlined above.



Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.

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