Nowadays, when there are many ways to learn a foreign language on a decent level in a matter of months, one would think that the time when localization loses its relevance for users out there and there would be little sense in localizing an app. Turns out, that’s far from true – in fact, while its gets easier to get a high-quality localization due to the availability of freelance translation services with real professionals among the freelancers, the demand for localization is still very high.

Localization is especially relevant to mobile apps and games today – both as a marketing method and a way to make your app more accessible to your target audience. A high-quality app localization of the in-app text, keywords selection and other elements of your app can do wonders for the performance of your app on the modern mobile market.

However, there are a few questions one may have before they decide to take any steps. Let’s answer them in this post and find out the most optimal way to localize your application or game.

What are the main benefits of localization?

There are several main benefits that localization provides today, and these remain as main reasons why localization is relevant. They are the following:

  • Improvement of accessibility for users from foreign countries;
  • Expansion of the target audience, which means bigger potential market;
  • Improvement of the performance on the mobile market.

There are many stories out there which tell about the experience of individual developers with localization and how it affected their apps, and just taking a look at them suggests that if your app is great and popular, then it’s not a very wise decision to keep it only in your home country or English-speaking regions when there’s such an opportunity to reach the global audience.

In some cases, Android and iOS app localization improves the conversion rate by up to 20%, which is already a nice push for your app, but in some cases the download numbers have been multiplied, which is even more than impressive.

Is it that simple?

As usual, nothing is so simple if you look closely. Just making the app available in other regions won’t do the trick for you. First of all, the text in the app needs to be translated and localized professionally to make sure that the quality is top-notch, otherwise you’re risking to end up with poor localization, which is way worse than no localization at all.

There’s another side that developers should never miss to make sure that the user experience remains positive around the globe – the design needs to be analyzed and researched to fit the nuances and cultural differences of various audiences and optimized either to find the balance between them or make several variations of specific parts of the design to accommodate different cultures. How you will approach that question is up to you – but it’s good to remember that the user experience is the most important part of the great app.

What is required to make a great localization?

Good localization is not only about the good translation and localization of the text in your app or game. It’s also about the communication between you and the translators. If your app uses medical, business or other jargon, you will need to provide more information – and hire translators with experience in that field. After all, it’s only natural that you want the highest-quality translation for your app.

Here’s what you will need to make the best localization possible:

  1. Make sure you’re prepared – get the fonts that support the characters used in the language you want to localize into and make sure you can edit the layout quickly to accommodate the different amount of space required by a specific language. Generally, languages like German and Russian take 25-30% more space than English, so it’s a good idea to have extra space as a precaution;
  2. Separate elements with text and other stuff that needs to be localized from the rest of the app to make sure that translators don’t have to sift through files and search for text by themselves;
  3. Make notes to provide context – this will improve the accuracy and productivity of the translators, and in the end, this additional step will only make the process less tiring for both sides. The translators will use the time they’ve got to improve the translation rather than looking up information or contacting you and trying to get additional clues;
  4. Do extensive testing of the translation – you need to make sure there’s no overflow and no mistranslations or typos. It’s a good to have a proofreading pass or two on the final text done by the native language speaker to iron out any remaining issues.

Which languages should I consider supporting?

The following languages should be considered while planning iOS or Android app localization. It’s up to you which languages you’re going to use, and you can add them one by one if you’re running on a tight budget and can’t afford to cover all of the languages listed here at once:

  • English
  • French
  • Italian
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Russian
  • Portuguese

This way you can cover the majority of the modern mobile users. Additionally, you may want to look into Arabic and Hebrew and other languages if you are aiming to reach even wider audience.

How can I get my app localized?

There are two ways to do it: either via a marketing agency or via freelance translation services. The former method is safer, but more expensive – the agency will pick the best possible translator for the job, and possibly do even more – some offer additional proofreading and other services, which depend on the agency. However, freelance translation services may lead to the same quality, but at a cheaper price, but you will have to hire a proofreader separately and hand-pick the translator yourself. You will also have to find an affordable translator among the available ones, but you need to pay extra attention to the experience of the translator you’re hiring – especially if your app contains technical, medical or other jargon that must be translated accurately. Also, avoid hiring translators with suspiciously low rates – sometimes low rates are offered by inexperienced translators who want to find work quickly and gain additional experience.

As you can see, localization is not too hard to pull off even if you’re running on the tight budget, and if you will follow the advice provided here, you should have fun working on it together with the translator(s). Proper mobile app localization can change the situation for your app – you just have to do it right.