Posts by Tag

See all
Monika Bujanowicz
January 11, 2023
15 min read

Top Tips for the Localization of Apps That Always Work

tips for localization of apps

The world has gone global, and so have businesses. There is no way around it. The internet has changed everything forever. If you want to grow your business and get a bigger piece of the pie, you need to globalize. To that end, you need to think globally and act locally. That's what localization is all about. If you want to be successful in foreign markets, you need to localize your global business. English is not enough these days, although many people look for excuses in this area saying that "English is the language of international business". Well, yes, but it doesn't mean it's the language of your potential customers. You do business with people, not some elusive entities.


But that's easier said than done. It's a challenge for companies to find the right balance. It's much easier to just come up with a strategy and then adopt it across the board. But as we have seen with many companies, this is a strategy that can fail.


And why?


Because it does not satisfy the most important need of customers: personalization.


Personalization is the order of the day. Ask anyone, and that's exactly what you'll hear. According to studies, 69% of consumers want personalization. They want an experience like no other. 41% of consumers will take their business elsewhere if they do not get the personalized experience they thought they wanted. In another study by CSA, 72% of consumers spent the most time on websites that display content in their own language.


Localization means personalization. Not only do consumer brands need to localize to gain more audience and increase their visibility, but so do software development companies and agencies. This way, you can increase customer loyalty and retention, which increases your customer base. There is no better way to connect with your audience than to speak their language. That's why many software development companies place great emphasis on optimizing their localization strategy.


And don't forget internationalization before you start localizing!


What Is Localization?


what is localization


So what is localization, and how can your software house benefit from it?


The first thing you should do is make sure you fully understand localization. You can visit Wikipedia or other websites and read the official definitions. You will find something about "the process of making something local or restricting it to a particular place" there.


We need to look at localization from a business perspective. When we do that, we see what the true definition is. For our purposes, for software development companies, localization is the process we use to adapt our products, services, or content to a specific market. That can be a country, a state, a city, or another market.


What does Software Localization Mean?


software localization specialist at work


It means adapting your software, website, social media, manuals, and other marketing campaigns to the needs of the market you are targeting. One of the most important parts of localization is language. But that does not mean it's the only factor. There are other aspects as well. These include cultural preferences, social preferences, behaviors, and other various idiosyncrasies of your target market.


Localizing marketing can be a challenge but localizing apps is a whole new level of the process. Making the user interface of an app multilingual and customized to the requirements of many target cultures is what makes the software industry grow.


Apps come in many shapes and sizes. You can see that in any app store where you download your software from. Mobile apps, desktop apps, Android apps, iOS apps, various functionalities, and user-friendly UI, all of these require app localization so that they are available in different languages of potential customers to boost user experience.






Related content: How to Prepare for Software Localization






What Is a Localization Strategy?


app localization strategy


Just as we defined the localization process above, a localization strategy is a process that a company or business uses to adapt its various parts to the target market it wants to enter. Suppose you want to develop a successful localization strategy. In this case, you need to make sure that you have detailed knowledge about the cultural nuances of your target market. This also means that you can come up with different ways to increase the attractiveness of your brand in the eyes of your potential customers. And that's just for starters.


Why Should You Optimize Your Localization Strategy?


global localization strategy optimization


There are several reasons why you should optimize your localization strategy. The main reason is that you can communicate your message to a global audience without losing your identity. A localization strategy increases the appeal and persuasiveness of your content and increases your overall market share.


It also shows your customers that you are making an effort to gain their trust and loyalty. Your localization strategy allows you to stay in this market for the long term. It also ensures that there are no communication gaps or misunderstandings between your brand and your customers.


Identifying and Overcoming App Localization Challenges


software localization challenges


As a software development company, you will be working on software localization. This process has some setbacks that you need to be aware of and deal with in a timely manner. Some of the most common issues you might face are:


  • Your translation management system and its synchronization with the code repository
  • Monitoring changes in translation files and downloading them properly in the right format
  • Identifying and eliminating duplicates in the translations
  • Effective work with plural keys and wildcards
  • A translation team that can work on different functions simultaneously
  • Providing context for translators
  • Previewing translations in the design phase
  • Working with double-byte characters and code pages in order not to see corrupt characters all over the place in your target language versions


For an app developer, mobile app localization, or any software localization project, is demanding. It's not just the proper internationalization of the resource files first (Unicode, no hard coding or concatenation, proper units of measurement, and much more to be done at this stage). It's project management (and it sometimes means full translation process management and coordination, depending on your organization's structure and the fact whether you have a localization manager or a localization department), people management, and program management in one.





That's where the goals of all stakeholders working on the app content meet: marketers, developers, and C-level executives. At this stage, they share the same objective: to get as many new users and app downloads as possible on global markets. But to be at that point, all parties involved must embark on a journey that leads from market research, through app internationalization, app localization of UI elements, documentation, and marketing content to that brand new shiny spot your mobile application takes at Google Play Store or App Store.


That said, one more thing. Don't forget about app store optimization and other best practices. Let your potential buyers interact with your product in their preferred language, no matter where they are, be it Japan, Argentina, Brazil, or Germany, or what language they speak, be it Spanish, Dutch, or Pashto. The first step from a user's perspective always shapes the first impression. And you have only one chance to make it right.


With the right tools and processes, you can ensure a streamlined workflow and not waste valuable money, time, and energy on these challenges.







Related content: How Much Does Software Localization Cost?







Optimizing Your Strategy for Localization of Apps


optimizing strategy for localization of apps


Now that we know what a localization strategy is and what benefits it can bring you, let us take a look at how you can increase the efficiency of your strategy and make it work for you.


Here's how to speed up your localization process and increase its impact.


1. Learn from Your Local Audience


listen to your local audience


You can't run a successful localization process if you do not learn everything you can about the international market you are entering first. Communicating with new audiences without any prior knowledge is extremely dangerous. Find out as much as you can about the country you are about to enter. Getting your message wrong can permanently damage your image in the eyes of your customers. You may never be able to undo that. Some of the things you need to learn are the cultural nuances and local imagery.


One of the best ways to do this is to work with a local partner. That way, you have a guide who can lead you safely through the treacherous waters with as little risk as possible. He can educate you on the needs and values of the new market and show you how to better meet them. He can tell you how to get accurate and localized experience and feedback. It will also make it easier for you to learn about your local competition and buying patterns in that country.


There are hundreds of things that may not matter to you, but can be very important to new customers. Take colors, for example. In some regions, white is the color of celebration, while in other cultures, white is the color of mourning. Analyze how your brand colors will affect the target market. Will customers feel offended by them or not? Different locale means a different approach. And it doesn't mean language only. Layout matters, too. Both need to work together to resonate with your audience. A good case in point is countries where right-to-left languages (RTL) are used, for example, Arabic or Hebrew.


2. Maximize Translation Efforts


maximize your translation effort


Another item on your shortlist you need to focus on is translation. This includes all the content you want to share with your new customer base and all the media you will use to disseminate the information: your website, manuals, social media channels, press releases, app translation included. If you do not translate your message into the target language using translations, you will not be able to engage and connect with the new markets.


You can use a mix of automation and human translation for this purpose. Automation because some things need to be translated quickly, and human translation because some translations need to be perfect no matter how much time they take. You can achieve the first level of translation quickly by automating and rely on human translators for the rest.


We emphasize human translation because there are two major advantages that automation does not offer:


  • Human translators take into account the linguistic nuances and colloquialisms of the new language and specialized industry terminology better
  • Human translation builds trust with new clients by adding the human touch


We all know that when translating, it's not enough to just transfer the words from one language to another. You also need to take care of the figurative expressions and phrases. For example, if you want to represent Christmas in the Middle East (if at all), you will not use snow in your images. These are the kinds of details that human translators can take care of and make sure that your communication works in your favor and not against you.


Another thing you need to consider to improve your localization process is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). How can native speakers of other languages find you online? Keywords! SEO means not only translated content, but also optimized content. Optimized for the native language of the people that you want to find your app. Very often it means not really translation of these keywords but keyword research in a given language


3. Stand out from the Competition


stand out from your competitors thanks to translation and localization


You may be entering or looking to enter a market that seems very saturated. You may think that this will not work. Remember that having a lot of competitors does not mean you will fail. It just means that you need to differentiate yourself from everyone else. It means you must be creative in developing your localization strategy and stand out from the crowd.


You cannot send the same messages that everyone else is sending. You need to consider steps such as offering improved software features or filling a gap that other brands have not yet served. That could mean developing a new product line specifically targeted to that market. It could also mean offering value-added services with your existing products. That could be better customer service, more reliable processes, faster shipping, and more.


Again, it's all about personalization. What kind of experience can you offer your customers that your competitors can't? If you can achieve that, your customers will buy from your global brand and not from all the local and global competitors. To that end, you need to keep a close eye on your local competitors and find out what they are lacking.






Related content: A Guide to an Efficient Software UI Localization Process







4. Offer Content for Each Foreign Market


localize your software content for each market


When you look at the content you will share with your new market, you should know that each market has a different approach. It all depends on small details like the tone and language of your message. Sometimes only small adjustments are needed, but sometimes big ones. Let us say you have done some research and learned about the new market. In this case, you can find out all the cultural differences, taboos, and other nuances you need to consider


You also need to take a close look at the media you choose for your marketing purposes. Take social media, for example. More than 70% of businesses worldwide use social media to connect with and engage their customers. But you can't have just one social media account for all your markets. To attract the right customers, you need a new social media presence for each country. Take China, for example. They have different social media channels than America or any other Western country. They do not use Facebook as much as Weibo. You can either familiarize yourself with the channels or work with a local partner who knows the channels.


5. Introduce the Right Localization Tools into Your Software Development Workflow


localization tools help to manage the workflow


It is unfortunate that a large number of companies still use spreadsheets for software localization. They could use a variety of software to achieve better results and improve their localization efforts. Integrating the right tools is one of the best ways to speed up your localization process. Not only can you crunch the numbers and analyze your data, but you can also manage your translations. When your development team and localization team work together, you'll get better results in less time.


6. Automation Is the Key


automation is important in app localization


Figure out what your development teams need and try to automate as much as possible. By automating more, you can minimize wait time and get to market faster. These can include code repository integrations, webhooks and APIs, and more. Pay attention to how the localization software you use can meet the needs of different teams. If you want high-quality protection and storage, opt for a cloud-based service. Make sure you talk to the providers and explicitly tell them what you are looking for.





More Tips for Localization of Apps


If you want to take care of your localization process and speed it up, the steps above will be of great use. But there are more things you can do to make the process even better:


  • Make sure your localization process starts at the design stage. This way, you can ensure that you reach your target market quickly and without any losses.


  • Make sure you have adapted all visual elements to the local market and different cultures. This includes larger images as well as the smallest emojis. A single offensive image is enough to devalue your product and brand.


  • Be as precise as possible. The better you understand the local market, the better your software will resonate with customers.


  • Make sure you have a style guide that you can use throughout the process. You need to make sure that the messages you send to different foreign markets are consistent. This is harder than it sounds, but it will be easier if you have a style guide.



Be Global by Being Local(ized)


Whether you are successful in a foreign market depends on your localization strategy and the speed and accuracy of your localization process. Above, we have outlined some of the steps you can take to streamline your process and ensure you do well in that market. Keep the above steps in mind as you develop your strategy, and you can be successful in your app localization efforts.


Localizing apps and their interfaces is just one aspect of localization as such. There are so many other types of content that need localization for the product to be ready for a global launch. Manuals and user guides, marketing materials, videos with subtitles and voiceover, or even metadata. That plus the respect for the cultural norms of your audience can work like a charm. Go and grow!


Recommended articles:

Software Localization Buyer's Guide

5 Reasons Brands Reject Translation Companies That Could Be Right for Them