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How to Prepare Your App for Localization

Here's everything you need to know to get started.

Lonnie Dahm

Updated on July 2, 2024

You have the perfect app for your product, but what’s the easiest way to localize it for your markets?  Users expect apps to speak their language and cater to their cultural nuances. 
This makes app localization an important step in expanding your market reach, boosting downloads, and enhancing user satisfaction. 

Here is a comprehensive guide on how to prepare your app for localization.

What to Consider before Starting

Before you start, you should know all your potential markets — familiarizing yourself with all the languages and cultures you’re targeting and most likely to expand into.  Understanding the cultural and linguistic preferences in these regions will help you prioritize your localization efforts and lay the groundwork for expansion.

Additionally, localization will involve costs — both financial and temporal. A budget that includes translation services, localization tools, and human resources will be necessary to build your app and ensure a smooth localization process.

How to Prepare App Content

Once you are ready to start localization for your app, there are a few things you need to prepare first.

Text extraction

Begin by externalizing all hard-coded text strings from your app. This will help simplify the translation process and make updating for each language easier. Instead of embedding text directly within your code, use translation files like .poor .json. With this approach, you’ll be able to manage many different language versions efficiently. 

Internationalization (i18n)

Internationalization (i18n) is the process of designing your app to support multiple languages and character sets. Ensure your app can adapt to various date, time, number, and currency formats as per the user’s locale. This foundational step is critical before localization begins.

Designing for Localization

Next, you need to consider how to adapt your app’s design for effective localization. Design your user interface to accommodate different text lengths and directions. Remember that certain languages, like German or Finnish, can significantly expand the size of text. Similarly, supporting bidirectional text for languages such as Arabic and Hebrew involves ensuring the UI works seamlessly in both left-to-right and right-to-left orientations.

Utilize responsive design principles to ensure your app displays correctly on various screen sizes and orientations. Consider regional differences in layout preferences, such as the prominence of specific features based on cultural usage patterns.

Content Localization

Once you’re happy with your adaptable app design, it’s time to start thinking about content localization. A good place to start is to choose qualified translators or trusted translation services to ensure accuracy and cultural appropriateness. Employ localization management tools like GlobalLinkGoPOEditor, or Transifex to streamline the translation process and maintain consistency across different locales. 

Many of these tools have a free trial option or tiered subscriptions that allow you to test the tool before committing to it. This is an excellent option as you work on deciding which tool to go with.

Not only do you need to think about your text, but you also need to consider all of the multimedia within your app — images, videos, and audio — and how it suits your target audiences. Pay attention to cultural nuances to ensure your multimedia content is relevant and appropriate.

Technical Considerations

Finally, you can move on to technical considerations such as code adaptation and automated testing. You need to ensure your codebase can handle different locales by leveraging locale-specific resources. Make use of frameworks and libraries that support localization, such as Android’s Resources and iOS’s NSLocalizedString.

Next, you should implement automated testing for localized versions of your app to identify bugs and inconsistencies. It is also important to regularly monitor these tests to ensure high-quality localized content across all your markets.

User Experience Testing

Once all the technical pieces are finished, you can begin user testing to help refine and improve your app. 

The best way to ensure your localization efforts hit the mark is by recruiting native speakers from different regions to test your app. Their feedback on language accuracy and overall experience can prove invaluable.

Additionally, incorporating feedback from local testers and users can help you continually improve your app and maintain a positive user experience.

Marketing and Launch Strategy

Another thing that you shouldn’t overlook is app store optimization. Translate your app description, keywords, and promotional materials for each target market. This increases visibility and appeal in the respective app stores of those regions.

Consider a phased release or a soft launch to gauge initial reactions and iron out any issues. Continuously monitor user feedback and performance metrics to adapt your strategy as necessary.

Conclusion

An effective app localization strategy involves market research, budget planning, text extraction, UI adaptability, professional translation, and thorough testing. 

Keep in mind that localization doesn’t end with the app release. It requires ongoing effort to translate new content and adapt to changing user preferences and market conditions — but starting with the right tools and strategy will set you up for success.

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