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Best Practices for Mobile Application Translation Services

Posted by Chloe G. on April 16, 2024.

With the global reach of smartphones and tablets, reaching a diverse audience across different languages and cultures has become a priority for app developers. This is where mobile application translation services play a crucial role. However, translating an app involves more than just converting text from one language to another. It requires careful planning, adherence to best practices, and collaboration with skilled language professionals. In this article, we’ll explore the essential steps and strategies for ensuring successful mobile application translation.

Start in Development

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The localization process should ideally begin during the development phase of the app. Designing with localization in mind allows for smoother integration of translated content later on. Developers should consider factors such as text expansion and platform guidelines from the outset to avoid potential issues down the line.


Plan for Text Expansion

Text expansion refers to the phenomenon where translated text occupies more space than the original text due to differences in word length, sentence structure, or grammar between languages. This expansion can pose challenges for mobile app developers, as it may lead to layout issues, truncated text, or UI elements not fitting properly. To effectively manage text expansion during mobile application translation, developers can follow a comprehensive plan that addresses various aspects of the translation process:

  • Assess Text Expansion Potential: Before beginning the mobile application translation process, analyze the source text to identify any areas prone to significant expansion. Pay attention to languages known for wordier expressions or longer sentence structures, as they are more likely to experience text expansion.
  • Design Flexible Layouts: Create UI layouts and designs that can accommodate varying text lengths without sacrificing usability or aesthetics. Use dynamic layout techniques such as flexible containers, adjustable text boxes, or text wrapping to ensure that translated text fits within designated UI elements.
  • Utilize UI Mockups: Provide translators with UI mockups or screenshots displaying the context in which translated text will appear. This allows them to visualize how their translations will integrate into the app’s interface and make adjustments accordingly to avoid text overflow or layout distortions.
  • Implement Text Truncation Strategies: In cases where accommodating fully expanded text is not feasible due to space constraints, implement text truncation strategies to handle overflow gracefully. Use ellipses (…) or tooltips to indicate truncated text and provide users with the option to view the complete content.
  • Test Across Multiple Devices and Screen Sizes: Conduct thorough testing of the localized app across various devices, screen sizes, and orientations to ensure that translated text displays correctly and maintains readability. Pay particular attention to languages with a high likelihood of text expansion to identify and address any layout issues promptly.
  • Iterate and Refine: Incorporate feedback from translators, testers, and users to iterate on the localization process continually. Adjust layout designs, text wrapping settings, or truncation strategies as needed to optimize the user experience across different languages and locales.
  • Monitor Performance Metrics: Track key performance metrics such as user engagement, retention, and user feedback to assess the impact of text expansion on the app’s usability and user satisfaction. Use this data to inform future localization efforts and refine text expansion strategies accordingly.

Follow Platform Guidelines

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Different mobile platforms (e.g., iOS, Android) have their localization guidelines and best practices. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these guidelines and adhere to them throughout the mobile application translation process. This ensures consistency and compatibility across various devices and operating systems.

Separate Out Your Translatable Content

To streamline the mobile application translation process, it’s advisable to separate translatable text from code and other non-translatable elements. This makes it easier for translators to access and work with the content without interfering with the app’s functionality. Utilizing mobile application translation files or string resources can help keep translations organized and manageable.

Choose Your Technology

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Choosing the right technology is essential for streamlining the mobile application translation process and ensuring the efficient translation of your mobile application. From translation management systems to automated localization platforms, there are various tools and technologies available to aid in the localization process. Here’s a plan for selecting the most suitable technology for your needs:

  1. Assess Your Requirements: Begin by assessing your localization requirements, including the size and complexity of your app, target languages and regions, budget constraints, and timeline for localization. Identify key features and functionalities that you need from a localization technology solution.
  2. Research Available Options: Conduct thorough research to explore the different localization technologies and tools available in the market. Consider factors such as compatibility with your development environment, ease of integration, scalability, support for multiple languages, and pricing structure.
  3. Evaluate Translation Management Systems (TMS): Translation management systems (TMS) are software platforms designed to streamline the translation process by providing tools for managing translation projects, collaborating with translators, and tracking translation progress. Evaluate TMS solutions based on features such as project management capabilities, translation memory support, workflow automation, and reporting functionalities.

Provide Context for Your Strings

Translators rely on context to accurately translate content within the app. Providing context for strings, such as where and how they appear in the user interface, helps translators understand the intended meaning and context of each string. This reduces the likelihood of mistranslations and ensures a more accurate and culturally relevant mobile application translation.

Internationalize Your Code

Internationalization (i18n) involves designing and developing software in a way that allows for easy localization and adaptation to different languages and regions. By internationalizing your codebase, you create a foundation that facilitates seamless translation and ensures that your app is accessible and user-friendly for a global audience.

Make Sure There is a Translation Memory

A translation memory (TM) is a database that stores previously translated content for reuse in future projects. Implementing a TM system can significantly expedite the translation process, reduce costs, and maintain consistency across translations. Ensure that your translation service provider utilizes a TM and regularly updates it with new mobile application translations.

Consider Subscribing to a Localization Management Platform

Localization management platforms offer comprehensive solutions for managing the entire localization process, from project management to translation and quality assurance. Subscribing to a localization management platform can centralize and streamline localization efforts, improve collaboration between team members, and provide valuable insights into the localization workflow.

Work with a Trusted Mobile Application Translation Partner

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With years of experience in the localization industry, we understand the complexities involved in translating mobile applications effectively. From user interface (UI) text and app store descriptions to in-app content and push notifications, we ensure that every aspect of your app is accurately translated and culturally adapted to resonate with your target audience.

Whether you’re launching a new app or expanding into new markets, our professional mobile application translation services empower businesses to connect with users worldwide and achieve their global growth objectives. Partner with GTE Localize, a professional translation agency, to unlock the full potential of your mobile application and reach audiences across languages.