According to Statista, downloads of mobile apps will top 268 billion in 2017. Can you even imagine that number? How many of those do you think will be yours? Don’t worry, we can help…
One easy and effective way to improve the popularity of your app is to make sure it is properly localised, so audiences in each country or region will feel like it was made specifically for them. We provide some handy tips on app localisation – from keywords to a flexible approach to translation, which are both cost-effective and easy to manage with the right translation provider.
What does localisation involve?
While internationalisation is the overall process of converting an app so that it can be used in a foreign country, localisation is the translation of individual app assets – including text, graphics, units of measure and, where appropriate, cultural references.
You may try to simply get away with translating text into relevant target languages, and this will probably result in a modest increase in international downloads, but going the whole hog will undoubtedly get you better ratings and a bigger audience share.
Before starting, we recommend you first do your research to ensure there is a genuine market for your app in your target country – why invest in a localisation project without a good chance of seeing a healthy return?
Running an MVP (minimum viable product) test is a good way to start, but think about the implications first. Keep it short to gauge interest while minimising any negative feedback, and consider using a different visual identity during the trial so as not to harm your reputation. JumpStartCTO provide more advice on MVPs.
Localising for iOS and Google Play
In both instances the first place to start is by localising your keywords to make your app findable. We can’t stress this enough as an important first step. This post on app store optimisation gives some excellent advice on this.
Google Play analyses both the app title and the description for keywords. In titles they carry more weight, but given character limits the bulk of your keywords will probably be from your app’s description. At Lingo24 we’re able to provide quality checks to ensure translated titles fit within given character limits, but it’s also important that your descriptions sound natural and not awkwardly saturated with keywords.
Similarly, the Apple App Store gets keywords from the title of the app. However, it uses a 100-character keyword field to determine an app’s keywords, rather than the description. Again, given the limited amount of space, you need to use this wisely with relevant keywords that will have the greatest impact. Our localisation experts can advise on the best keywords for each of your target markets.
It may be tempting to try to save some money using a free translation engine, but you should always be wary that it could lead to an embarrassing faux pas. That doesn’t mean you need to use professional translation for the whole development process of your app, a flexible approach can be very cost-effective.
Machine translation can help you spot check a few words and learn more about a language (if you are interested), as well as being great value for money during the development and early testing phases. When you’re coming to the business end of your development and thinking about marketing, it’s usually worth investing more in your translation.
It’s not just about language translation
It can be easy to forget that other countries follow different conventions. Units of measure or currency help give a truly local feel, as can colours and typefaces.
When it comes to images or actions, special attention is also required. For example, forming the V (victory or peace) sign with your fingers can seem like a gesture of goodwill, but in some cultures this can be highly offensive.
It’s best to have a native in each of your target markets review all aspects of your app to be on the safe side, and the earlier they can be involved in the process, the better.
*Photo credits: Lenka Horavova / Shutterstock.com