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Mobile App Localization 101: 3 Must-Know Tips for Your Localization Projects

Posted by Anne Q. on November 08, 2021.

The mobile app industry is expected to generate over $935 billion in revenue by 2023, making it one of the most profitable fields that every enterprise should invest in. To take advantage of this thriving industry and attract global customers, mobile app localization becomes an indispensable step. 

In this article, we give you a glance at mobile app localization and some of the best practices for effectively localizing your apps.

What is Mobile App Localization?

First, let’s start with the basic – definition of mobile app localization. Mobile app localization is the process of adapting the content, interface, function, and other resources of your mobile application to suit a specific market or region.

Mobile App Localization

Mobile app localization does not only take linguistic aspects into consideration but also make adaptations in the app’s interface, graphics, and functions. To be more specific, this process includes:

    • In-app content translation
    • Mobile app graphics localization
    • App description translation
    • User review translation
    • Mobile app localization testing (Linguistic testing and User experience testing)


Why Should You Localize Your Mobile Apps?

To demonstrate why mobile app localization is important, let’s take a look at some figures below:

    • 41% of total app revenue came from Asia, North America only generated 31% and Europe 23%.
    • Meanwhile, more than 50% of customers around the world only buy from websites in their own language.
    • Distimo (App Annie), a publisher of app data and statistics surveyed 200 apps and found that a week after publishing an iPhone app in a new language, downloads in the same country increased by 128% and revenues rose by 26%.

Numbers speak louder than words. These numbers are proof that English is not enough for your mobile app if you want to achieve global success.


Must-Know Tips for Successful Mobile App Localization Projects

#1. Custom app designs for different markets

It’s a big mistake to only have one design of your app applied for all markets in the world as each country has its own preference for colours, symbols, and design styles along with uniqueness in the language characteristics. You should always make customized designs for your mobile apps in each new market you are about to enter. You should pay attention to the following factors when adapting your apps:

Colours and symbols

Each country has its own set of norms and standards related to colours and symbols and just a small mistake regarding these cultural aspects can ruin your whole project.

In many countries, for example, colours have meaning and play an important role in business and app design. In China, red is the symbol of wealth, luck, and joy while white is death, black is destruction, evil, cruelty, and sadness. Bright colours help increase your sales in China, so you should try to avoid dark palettes (black, brown, grey, etc.) in your web-based applications. Meanwhile, in Korea, red, purple, and black have become representative of Korean luxury and quality. Businesses use these colours in their marketing materials as they are supposed to boost sales and profits.

Mobile App Localization - Colours

Likewise, symbols also vary from different countries. For instance, in Brazil, Germany, Russia, and many other countries around the world, the OK sign is a very offensive gesture because it is used to depict a private bodily orifice. People in America use the okay sign to show that something is agreeable, whereas, in Japan, it indicates money. 

Text length and text orientation

We all know that each language has its own features, even in the space it needs. Let’s take some languages as examples, texts in Japanese are usually 20-55% longer compared to English, texts in Thai are usually 15% longer while a translation from English to Portuguese might shorten the text by 15%.

English-Japanese Text Expansion

Moreover, some languages are in horizontal typography, whereas some others are in vertical writing orientation. In addition, when most countries arrange their mobile app content in the left-to-right flow, countries where Arabic is the official language design their app with the right-to-left font of the text.

These differences, along with customer habits, have much effect on your app’s design. If it is possible, you should try to create a design that is flexible for any language, ensure that your app allows for the expansion and contraction of texts otherwise, don’t forget to pay great attention to the features of your target language to make sure that the differences will not make the text become overlap with other design elements or make the content difficult to read.

Using a single set of layouts for all the languages you support is fine, but you may have to create some alternative layouts for any languages that don’t fit. So you should avoid using fixed width and height for layouts as this can lead to your text being cropped in certain languages.


#2. Take advantage of pseudolocalization

Let’s take a look at the example below. The first picture is the source design with attractive content and eye-catching font. Now, look at the second picture. “It’s swipe surge” is correctly translated into “Inilah lonjakan geser”. Unfortunately, the translation is too long and some characters are missing. That’s why you need to perform pseudolocalization before launching your apps.

Localization Fails

Pseudolocalization (or pseudo-localization) is a software testing method used for testing the internationalization aspects of the software. Pseudolocalization verifies whether your app is ready for the localization process or not. Your resource file will be loaded with machine-translated text to test the original design for various issues, including text expansion or contraction, hard-coded strings, different character sets, and strings that should not be translated.


#3. Pay attention to app store optimization

Just like the way SEO (search engine optimization) help you increase the visibility of your content in a search engine, app store optimization (ASO) boost your visibility on the app stores. ASO uses localized keywords in the app descriptions and title to ensure your app is discovered by users and ranks higher in the app store than your competitors. 

App Store Reviews

It is important to make sure that you select the right search terms and have optimized content for each target market. The correct translation of your app’s name, description and keywords will help local users find it more easily. Moreover, don’t forget about your icon design and how it will look on iOS and Android.

Steve P. Young, an ASO expert at Appmaster, states that his customers have gained results of up to a 10X increase in downloads by localizing their mobile apps. David Janner, Editor-in-Chief of MAKE APP Magazine, achieved 767% more downloads by localizing app keywords. Numbers don’t lie. These numbers are pieces of evidence for the importance of mobile app localization in the number of downloads and sales.


#4. Work with Professionals

Mobile app localization is a complex and continuous process. You can’t just translate your app content once and then stop. Your app is updated regularly with new features and bug fixings. So are the localized versions. Make sure you work with professional app localizers who know the languages and app preferences of your target audiences for the best outcomes. And don’t forget to ask about their continuous app localization options.

Mobile app localization services

GTE Localize is a professional translation agency with a focus on mobile app localization. We provide comprehensive mobile app localization services for all major languages in the world. Our services include:

We offer continuous mobile app localization services through well-known localization platforms such as Crowdin and Lokalise to make sure all changes are updated on time. Talk to our localization experts and get your mobile app localization project kicked off today!