If you only have one version of your app, then you’re limiting your potential market share. Whether it’s already a raging success at home, just beginning to gather speed or still an idea on the drawing board, you need to be thinking globally. Why? Because the international app market is virtually limitless.
The Smartphone is Omnipotent
The good news for app developers for iOS or Android is that practically everyone today is addicted to their smartphone. With an app for absolutely everything, from editing photos to planning vacations; managing finances to playing games, the world (and not just the Western world) has gone app crazy.
More than 50% of the world’s mobile subscribers are based in Asia/Pacific. And with rising demand in developing countries in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, you’re not just capping your potential success if your app’s only available in the US; you’re killing your potential for future growth.
Be More Than Just Available
It goes without saying that to gain access to global markets, you have to be available in global markets. But being globally available is only the first step; making sure your app is globally ready through mobile app localization is crucial for success.
Anyone who’s traveled, done business abroad, or had foreign friends or partners knows that people are people wherever you go. We have the same hopes, dreams, goals, fears, feelings… but we do have different ways of expressing them.
So what does that mean? Apps that are successful in the States have every chance of becoming popular in Asia,but breezing into a foreign market and blatantly ignoring the local culture is a sure fire way of planning for failure.
Launching your app in China in English will reduce its visibility to almost zero. Even if some people speak the language, they won’t search for it in the App or Play Stores in English. Translating your app into Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, or Japanese therefore becomes critical.
Speak the Local Lingo
But simply translating your app isn’t enough either. Because your international customers are just as important as those at home, you need to offer them an equally captivating user experience that makes them want to recommend you to a friend, share you on social media and buy your products.
You don’t want to offer a weakly translated message that they merely understand. App localization is all about speaking to them in their own language, on their own level and optimizing your app content (ASO) by using precise, targeted keywords that will improve your visibility and download rate.
Internationalize Your Code
If your app’s already up and running, internationalization will require you to make a change in your software to make sure that it takes into account other regional formats. If your app is still in design stages, then you can prepare for multiple versions easily from the start.
The internationalization process ensures that your app’s source code is written in a way that allows you to create versions of your app in other languages easily and with lower cost. Once your software is multiple languages friendly, you’ll need to work on your wording, icons, images and more.
Time for Localization
Localization goes way beyond translating the written parts of your app. Localization takes into account local users, local vocabulary, common icons, appropriate colors, formatting and images to ensure cultural compatibility.
Localization testing makes sure the coding works correctly and that your app is downloaded and tested by multiple users in your target market, on multiple devices.
Localization testing ensures that the visual design is optimum with no cosmetic issues, such as words that are longer in your target language running out of text boxes and that accents and characters are all in the right place.
And Linguistic Testing
Your app will then be put through rigorous linguistic testing, which is like a final proofreading to make sure that the source code changes, graphical elements, local lingo and formatting are all on target on all devices your app works on.
App Store Optimization (ASO)
Like with search engine optimization, ASO takes into account the fact that people search for apps in their own languages and local words. So the right translation of your app’s name, keywords and description will help local users find it more easily.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Study Your Audience –Do make sure there’s a realistic demand for your app before you dive in. A studied and profiled audience will secure potentially uncapped profits and growth for your company, whereas offering your app to the wrong market will not.
- Do it early – If possible, allow for localization and internationalization of your source code in the early stages. Planning for international growth from early on will save you money in the long run.
- An investment, not a cost –You may not think you have a budget for app localization but, even if your app is in its infancy, with 95% of the world’s population subscribed to mobile phones, the future profits will the cost and position your app for global success.