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Tomek Poniatowicz for Aexol

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A Quick Guide to App Localization

When developing a new app there are quite a lot of challenges waiting for you behind every corner as well as questions you need to answer yourself to make your app successful. One of those questions is how to make it scale, so that it is a global success. One of the key factors that open your apps for new markets is app localization.

What is app localization?

Application localization is the process of adapting your application to the culture & language of each target market in which you would like to succeed. The process of localizing an application usually begins with what is called internationalization.

Why app localization is so important?

App localization should be one of the first things that chould come to mind when looking for ways to expand the audience base of your app. After all, while most mobile users are at least familiar with English, many prefer using their local language for their apps which significantly broadens the number of potential users you can reach by localizing your app into various other languages. If your app is in a different language, then the benefits of translating into English, in terms of potential audience, should be even more obvious.

App localization strategy

The usual approach when localizing is going for the so called ‘tier 1 countries' which usually includes US, Canada, France, Germany, UK and Japan. While tier 1 countries are definitely the most profitable, they are also the most competitive and can be a tough market to crack. As such, additionally targeting less popular, but also less competitive markets can actually be a more effective approach. After all, casting a wider net and trying to rake in audiences from more countries can yield better results and without complex market research it’s hard to even tell where you might find potential users for your app. You might find that by translating your app into less popular languages you find a niche that your competitors have overlooked and gain a lot more users than you expected. Who to rely on? If you’ve decided on localization, the next question is how to do it. Mobile app companies often rely on either community translators, freelancers or localization companies. Each have advantages and disadvantages:

  • volunteer/community translators: While the obvious advantage is the cost (or lack thereof) the drawbacks are also significant, often both in terms of time and quality.
  • freelance translators: Relying on native speakers or translators working as freelancers is a lot more reliable, you can usually be sure the work will be done in a timely and professional manner. Though you will still likely have to micromanage translators for each added language and for every future update.
  • localization company: The best solution if you’re looking for a consistent professional translation service that will save you all the hassle and micromanagement. You can be sure of the quality and constant support, but it will also most likely be expensive.

What about localization tools?

Various localization tools are becoming more and more popular, despite preconceived notions about their quality mainly due to how unreliable they used to be in the past. You can be sure the days of google translate spitting out unintelligible gibberish are long gone though, and modern algorithms have gotten a lot better at the job. If you’re having doubts you should know a simple fact: all those professional translators use them too. Even if you rely on freelancers or a professional translation company they will also utilize popular translation tools for one simple reason: it significantly speeds up their work. While those tools are not 100% perfect yet, the key advantages are clear:

  • no hassle: no outsourcing or micromanaging freelancers
  • ad hoc usage: use only when actually needed, save yourself the trouble of repeatedly looking for freelancers with each new release or constantly paying a localization company for continuous translation services
  • consistency: build a glossary to ensure all translations are consistent with your app and brand
  • automate: take advantage of automatic translations as you update your app with new features
  • efficiency: translate into many different languages instantly without the need for weeks of translations by a host of freelancers

What are the main benefits of app localization?

If you are asking yourself whether you should localize your application then the answer is very simple - yes! What benefits will it bring to your application? Let's look at some of the most important ones

  • New markets: App localization is vital if you want to conquer global markets as making your app more appealing to people in different countries allows you to increase your reach.
  • Engaging to users: Users react more positively to content that respects their cultural norms and is tailored to their expectations. Localized user experience can drastically boost their engagement and brand loyalty.
  • More app downloads: Studies show that app store descriptions written in a local language can bring up to 40% more downloads as you are boosting your App Store Optimization (ASO) by getting access to totally new keywords & search phrases.
  • More revenue: Localization is a part of your app expansion. With every market your app is present in, you are gaining access to new potential revenue streams (new users, new ad partners etc.)

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