This article will cover the methodology of app localization, highlighting the key features that are important. We will talk about the three scenarios that are used during translation of the application with discussion of the pros and cons. And if you’re just after the key factors that define proper localization strategy, you can skip to the summary.
Mobile app localization is a crucial point of any mobile marketing strategy. Not only does it have to do with customer outreach, but also helps significantly increase the download rate by country. Localization of mobile applications also is important thanks to the rapidly growing mobile market subscription rate that is now more than 7 billions (See ICT FACTS AND FIGURES 2014). Thus, app localization can as well increase return on investment into a mobile application. Localized app hits 128% (See Distimo Publication - September 2012) more downloads per country than a non-localized one. So with the right localization strategy, your app can do much better.
Your app, your localization approach
Mobile localization strategy could be separated into three groups. Each of the groups will cover a specific strategy that could be used to fulfill specific aims:
- The first group is the most commonly used, and it involves automatic identification of user’s preferred language through device preferred language settings.
- The second group is app localization by region and this means that each region will have a specific version of the application.
- The last approach to app localization is through prompting user to choose a language from the available list of options.
Each of the approaches has its pros and cons in implementation and really depends on the final aim you want to achieve. So let’s define strong and weak points of each of them.
Automatic identification of user’s preferred language is one of the most popular multi-language approaches in app localization. This is because this approach has proven effective auto selecting specific files that contain translation and translated media content of the application.
The popularity of this method is caused by easy implementation and high manageability of the translated content. Besides, automatic identification is a core localization method of mobile SDKs such as Android and iOS.
There are downsides to this method as well. They are the size of the application, for example, if the app contains a lot of media content that should be localized for a certain amount of language, the application size will be increase. If the application interacts with a server side and the server sends notifications, localization of such interaction is required.
This strategy of the app localization by region is required when app functionality varies depending on the region/market and resources to be localized (e.g. graphic content) are quite cumbersome.
Region localization is a method used when the application’s business logic is connected with a certain region of the market.
Frequently such applications are games, those meant for a specific markets, etc.. This approach is quite suitable for applications that have lots of media content, which should be localized as well. Server interaction also required less complex architecture due to separate APIs that are used for different regions. On the other hand, this method offers intermediate level of app manageability, which is connected to the amount of the APIs and app packages that should be taken into account during development and support of the product.
Localization by prompting user to select a language is chiefly used in web mobile applications that are strictly connected to the server side and depend on server response. Such kinds of the applications are corporate applications. This methodology without doubt gives proper manageability for localized content from the server and quite good flexibility for server side architecture. Nevertheless, what could promoting a user to select additional options may be annoying so is not advisable from the user experience point of view.
All in all
To make your app accessible for other markets/countries, for the diverse multi language world around us, you can opt for one of the three existing approaches. Your choice among them will depend on such factors as: application type, the type of content that should be localized (copy? media files?), and server side architecture. Consider these factors to determine which localization methodology is the most suitable for your particular app, to bring it to wider audiences.