I recently read this blog entry by app developer Laura Tallardy http://lauratallardy.com/app-localization-made-easy/ and I was pleased to see, from a developers’ perspective, how important localisation is for the success of the product and in increasing market share. She provides some excellent technical tips that will come in handy for anyone seeking to localise their app. This inspired me to add some additional advice from a localisation provider’s point of view, which I hope you find useful.
- Plan for localisation from the beginning
Integrating localisation from the beginning can help avoid some of the costly problems that may arise later if the app has not been designed in a localisation-friendly way. Consider technical issues, like the ability to support all kinds of characters, text directions, and date and currency formats. Also think very carefully about the markets you want to access based on their potential.
- Research your target market
Once you have decided the markets you would like to access, you need to research and understand your customers, just like you would in your home country. What makes customers tick in one country might not be the same in another, so when localising some of the most important text, like the store descriptions, make sure to adapt it to the local market taste and expectations. Researching the most popular keywords in each market goes a long way in gaining visibility; Google AdWords and Trends are useful, but another trick is to start typing a word in the App Store search box and wait for suggested search terms. And don’t forget different countries may have different app stores!
- Style is key
You have spent weeks or even months writing your app, so why risk ruining it with stilted text, awkward translations or plain unintelligible text? Direct, literal translations hardly ever work. Jokes, common expressions, cultural references and such need to be adapted so they are meaningful to the target audience. Style needs to be carefully considered in order to engage your audience, so it’s important to work with the right professionals, who are familiar with the app market and the style you are trying to portrait.
- Bear in mind text expansion
It is very important to consider that languages are not all the same length. Whereas languages like Japanese and Chinese tend to be very short, other languages like French, Spanish and German use more words or longer words to convey the same message, which can take around 20-30% more space than English.
- Test, test and test!
Test thoroughly your localised apps in all languages to make sure that everything works, the text is displayed correctly in the right place and there are no issues such as clipped text, incorrect line breaks and untranslated strings, as well as any other errors that might have crept in.