There are over 1.76 Billion smartphone users in the world today and more than half of them are from the Asia Pacific region. The rapid penetration of smartphones in all parts of the world emphasizes the fact that mobile apps today increasingly have a global audience. App developers thus need to cater to this global audience. Just developing and launching an app for the English speaking users doesn’t cut it anymore. It is crucial for app developers to think about app localization.

What is app localization?

App localizationIn simple terms, app localization is the process of making an app available in different languages, meeting the local language and cultural requirements so as to appeal to a wider global audience. By localization, an app supports different languages and regions thereby opening doors for more people to use the app. It ensures that the app reaches as many people as it possibly can thus increasing its chances of success.

There are many ways that app developers can localize an app. Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Identify international markets to localize for:
    Proper research should be done into what the international market is like for an app and who the target audience is. Localization for the sake of it can be a costly and time-consuming affair. Developers must evaluate the top 2-3 markets that their app should venture into and plan on localizing only for those markets to begin with. They can always plan to expand as they get more traction and more resources.
  2. Plan for localizing right from the development stage:
    Most developers don’t think they will need to localize only to realize later that they do. It is recommended that app developers should start thinking about localization right from the inception of their app. This ensures that they plan for it well in advance and not have to make major code changes later on.
  3. Localize the product page on the iOS/Android app stores:
    In addition to localizing the actual content of an app it is very important to also localize the product page on the respective app store. This means thinking about the app page from the local language perspective. Truly localizing the app page would involve changing everything from app descriptions, screenshots, placeholder names used in app, etc. App store optimization must be done thoroughly by keeping the local language in mind and all necessary changes must be made.
  4. Don’t rely on auto translation:
    Localization does NOT mean just translation. A lot of developers commit the mistake of simplifying localization to mean just translation. Often literal translation doesn’t make sense in the new language. App developers should refrain from using auto translation services, as sometimes the actual message might get “lost in translation”. It is better to hire professional local language consultant, as they will know how to translate the given text contextually into a new language.
  5. Follow platform guidelines for localization:
    Every mobile platform has a detailed guide on how to localize an app. App developers can refer to these guides to help with the process. You can find the guides here:
    1.  iOS
    2. Android
    3. Windows
  6.  Internationalize the code:
    App developers must make sure that the code supports various languages, time zones, date formats, name formats, addresses, currencies, etc. This will allow the app to be converted into the chosen local language seamlessly. It is recommended that this is done during the development of the app to avoid confusion at a later stage.

With the ever-growing app economy and rapid smartphone adoption across the globe, app developers will greatly benefit by making app localization a part of their mobile strategy.

This article was originally published on Personagraph’s knowledge academy: Think Tank.