Aug 02| APP LOCALIZATION
Facebook is available in 84 languages. Twitter can be accessed in 32 languages. Gmail is available in 58 languages and Pinterest in 31 languages. WhatsApp is available in 20 languages.
The similarity between these apps is that they are customized, diversified and translated into local languages.
Think about this. If your app is already in English language and if you add a few more – chances are that you will be able to reach more than half of the global mobile users.
The data to back this is:
- According to Common Sense Advisory a language industry consulting firm, 73.4 percent global consumers prefer to use their native language while shopping online.
- Distimo, an app analytics firm found that translated apps increased their growth by 128 percent in download volumes after their native language was added – in the first week itself. In the same week, their revenues grew by 26 percent.
- According to Make App Magazine, simply translating an iPhone apps keywords can increase the app downloads by 767 percent.
In this post, we take you through the 6 things you should know before hiring a translator for your app – to be able to choose the right one.
1. Why do you need translation?
Common Sense Advisory conducted a survey of 2,400 consumers to understand the relation between language and user behaviour and how closely do these factors relate to each other.
Their findings were:
- 1 percent consumers spent the most part of their time on content written in local language.
- 4 percent consumers said they were more likely to purchase a product or service which had information in their local language.
- 2 percent consumers said the most important factor for them was to have information in their own language.
These statistics indicate the importance of translating your mobile app into local languages.
Another study conducted by European Commission puts forth the following findings:
- More than 90 percent of internet users from Europe said that if given a choice, they would prefer to go with their own language.
- 19 percent Europeans said they would never browse in any language other than their own.
- 42 percent said they would not opt for a product which is not presented in their own language.
This chart illustrates the most used languages on the internet as of 2016.
Source – Statista
This chart demonstrates the importance of language translation for mobile apps.
Source – GigaOm
2. App localization
App localization means to translate all the language elements in your app into a local language to target a specific country.
While translating, localize the content or the business logic according to a specific country’s laws and guidelines.
For instance if you are building a healthcare app, the laws will vary in every country.
In case of a weather app, some countries use temperature in Fahrenheit while other are more comfortable with Celsius. Localizing your app according to these parameters will result in a smooth end user experience.
Why localize your app?
This question can be counter-questioned as: why limit your app’s presence to a single market?
A study conducted by Appia found – 86 percent localized app marketing campaigns outperformed mobile app marketing campaigns in English in click-through rates and conversions.
Launching your app in a foreign market can boost downloads by 128 percent and revenues by 26 percent for every country added via app localization.
According to a report titled Can’t Read, Won’t Buy, 75 percent of customers prefer to purchase products in their own language.
Experts suggest taking your app to markets in China, India, Russia, Japan, Spain and Brazil over the next few years could be a successful; strategy to build sustainable traction.
How to figure out the target countries and regions for app translation?
Countries with a high percentage of smartphone ownership and app usage and the ones growing rapidly should be on your radar.
A second factor to consider is the category of your app. Suppose your app falls in dating category. Look for countries with usage of dating apps via mobile devices.
Whether to completely localize or partially localize?
The degree of localization of your app will depend on the translation resources at your disposal.
Start with translating your app’s keywords and app description. Moving ahead, you could translate the website.
The app Harlem Shake Yourself increased its downloads by 767 percent by simply localizing app keywords.
David Janner, who developed a funny dance video marker app performed an experiment. He noticed 76 percent of the total app traffic coming from English speaking countries before app localization.
Post localization, the English language users made up only 10 percent of downloads while the total volume increased from 3,000 per month to more than 23,000 per month.
3. App architecture/design
Translation is one of the main reasons for your app to get rejected from the App Store.
If translating the app is a part of your app marketing strategy, consider customizing the design based on the content. The text could become either longer or shorter when translated into other languages from English.
For example, Spanish, German, Fresh and Italian languages expand by 20 percent. Korean, Thai, Chinese and Dannish might contract by up to 20 percent.
Languages such as Arabic, Persian and Hebrew use right-to-left (RTL) scripts.
So leave room for app design.
Also, some symbols, icons and text that work for one country may not work in another country – take into consideration the app icons if they include any such elements.
When Coca-Cola entered the Chinese market, they had to change the name of their app. Coca-Cola in Chinese meant “Bite the wax tadpole”. The translated and rebranded name means “Delicious, able to enjoy”.
Before hiring an app translator, understand the degree of translation your app requires. The degree of translation will depend on the kind of app you’re building.
4. Mode of translation
Get a clear idea about who would be doing the actual translation process. This deeply impacts the cost structure, quality assurance and the efficiency of the app. The three options you can explore are:
- In-house translation – You can recruit a group of translators to be a part of your company. While it requires high initial investment, this could be a better option for smooth communication between the app developers, project managers and the marketing team. When your company consistently needs large volumes of translation, setting up an in-house translation team makes sense.
- Crowdsourcing – When your user base is diverse and extends to thousands or more, you can crowd source the translation to your end users. This minimizes the cost and ensures that the translations are well-adapted to the local communities. After all, they would know their native language the best. The downside being, you would have less control over the timelines and the overall quality.
However, some companies have got great results with this method. WhatsApp is one such app which depends on its loyal users for all its app translation needs.
- Outsourcing – You can hire a language service provider to take care of your app translation needs. They work either on demand or subscription model. As professional translators, they have excessive quality assurance measures. Additionally, you are guaranteed error free translation. While their upside is that they follow deadlines, you would have to pay for the translation – literally.
- Combined approach – You can gain the advantage of both the translation options by combining them. The users could translate and you could hire professionals to review their work and edit. Or hire professional translators and let the users tweak and iterate the translations for a more polished language.
5. App SEO
Gonzalo Juarez, the founder of eTips increased his app downloads by 200 percent by app store optimization.
The most important elements of App Store Optimization to be looked into while translating the mobile app are:
Keywords – Start with translating the mobile app’s keywords. If you have budget constraints, use Google Translate to directly translate the keywords.
These free tools are not accurate all the time. They can be used when you are translating keywords and not phrases.
App name – Translate your app name. Because this is the first thing your users will notice along with the app icon.
Most companies prefer to use human translators instead of automated tools and software’s for this step.
While the keywords are hidden from the users, the app name is displayed in the front and center. Hence accuracy of translation is extremely important.
Any errors in the app name or misleading meanings could lead to rejection of the app by the app store. Use services such as Translate by Humans. We proofread after the initial translation to ensure the most accurate translation.
Screenshots – Translating screenshots has a huge impact on downloads since 70 percent people download apps based on the screenshots.
Ideally, you should localize the text outside the app (app store description) and the text within the app.
Description – While translating the description, focus on not just the first one or two lines but the entire description. Highlight the main benefits of the app and share social proof.
6. App Content
A research shows that 12 languages account for 80 percent of global population. From these 12, English, Spanish and Chinese cover more than 50 percent of the online population. This means, to expand the reach of your app you would have to take it to newer markets.
In most cases, there are two main content areas which have to be translated – the functionality of the app – the code and the content within the app. The functionality is essential to run the app while content creates a good user experience. The importance of each aspect is dependent on each business. Decide which one is more crucial for your app.
Code – Before translating the app, separate the content from the code. Because the underlying code will be written in a coding language and mostly doesn’t require much translation. Additionally, understand where the code pulls the content which needs to be translated.
App content – The main step is to select the parts of user interface that need to be translated for users to use the app seamlessly.
Normally while translating, the mobile app users would want to see menus, settings and navigation buttons in their local language. These user interface elements may have to be resized based on the text (longer or shorter) in different languages. Adjust the measurements, currency, time, maps and directions to meet the local rules.
If the content is being pulled from an external content source, for example – from a news reading app. In such a case, you would need to translate the content. Suppose there is user generated content in your app which varies from tagging saved content to making detailed notes. In such cases, consider if your mobile app would accept user generated content and it’s working within the app. It is wise to plan ahead and translate the common phrases in the main target language and prepopulate it within the apps.
Context is another important part of app translation. Depending on the function, different words need to be used in different contexts under variable circumstances. Let’s consider the word “home”. This could mean, a house, an address or the landing page of the website. Your translator should be able to understand the context to make sure that the end users have a smooth experience within the app.
Ideally, the translator should be able to match the quality of the translated app with the quality and functionality of the original app you started with.
The knowledge about these points gives you a clear idea about the kind of translator you would want to hire.