The language barrier is one of the most common problems that travelers encounter when traveling to foreign countries that don’t speak English. It is not possible to hire a translator everytime for obvious reasons.
In case you are travelling for business reasons, you should “Think global, act local” when it comes to entering new markets. In all such situations, the translation apps come to your rescue.
Translation apps are designed to provide on-demand translation services whenever a user needs it in any part of the world. In a new market, your translation app acts as the bridge between you and your customers.
What is app localization?
App localization implies you translate all the language elements in your app into a local language to target a specific country. This will need the content or the business logic to be localized according to the country’s laws and guidelines.
Data behind localization
Suppose your app is in English language and you decide to add a few more languages – chances are that you can reach a wider area of global users. There is enough data to back this:
- A study conducted by Appia found 86% localized app marketing campaigns outperformed mobile app marketing campaigns in English in click-through rates and conversions.
- Distimo, an app analytics firm found that translated apps increased their growth by 128% in download volumes after their native language was added, their revenues grew by 26 percent.
- According to Make App Magazine, translation of the iPhone apps keywords can increase the app downloads by 767%.
How to figure out your target audience for app translation?
There are two ways:
- A) Target those countries which have a higher percentage of smartphone and app users.
- B) Target countries which have high usage of your category apps via mobile devices.
Whether to completely localize or partially localize?
The degree of localization of your app will depend on the translation resources available to you. You may start with translating your app’s keywords and description and later translate the website.
Steps to App translation:
Whether you’re localizing iOS or Android apps, here are some of the guidelines to follow for app localization:
- App design
When you plan to design a localized app, you need to consider the length of words and sentences in languages other than English. Also spacing, left-to-right and right-to-left support, as well as other factors.
The text could become either longer or shorter when translated into other languages from English. For example, Spanish, German, Fresh and Italian languages expand by 20 percent. Korean, Thai, Chinese and Dannish might contract by up to 20 percent.
Similarly, languages such as Arabic, Persian and Hebrew use right-to-left (RTL) scripts.
- App Code and Content
There are two main areas of the app’s functionality, which have to be translated -the code and the content within the app. The code is essential to run the app while content creates a good user experience.
Code – Before translating the app, separate the content from the code. The underlying code will be written in a coding language that doesn’t require much translation. Additionally, understand where the code pulls the content which needs to be translated.
App content – Select the parts of user interface that need to be translated for users to use the app seamlessly.
- App Context
Context is another important part of app translation. Making context available to your app translation team is a key differentiator in terms of translation quality. Depending on the function, different words need to be used in different contexts under variable circumstances. Consider the word “home”. This could mean, a house, an address or the landing page of the website. Your translator should be able to understand the context to make sure that the end users have a smooth experience with the app.
To build a mobile translation app, the translators should choose wording based not only on the content’s location in the app but also the space available due to the variable screen size of different devices.
- Mode of translation
Decide who would do the actual translation. This will have implications on the cost structure, quality and the efficiency of the app.
- a) In-house translation – You can have your own group of in-house translators if your company consistently requires large volumes of translation. Though this requires high investment, it’s clearly a better option for smooth communication between the team of app developers, project managers and others.
- b) Crowdsourcing – When you have a large number and diverse group of users, you can crowd source the translation to your end users. This is a low-cost method. After all, the users would know their native language the best.
WhatsApp is one such app which has benefitted from this method.
- c) Outsource work – You can hire a language translator to take care of your app translation needs. They work either on demand or by subscription. As professional translators, they stick to quality and provide error free translation. This type is the costliest.
- d) Combined approach – You can try a combination of either of the 3 methods described above.
- App Testing
Once you are done with the translation work, it is time to test your app so that there is no localization issue in your layout and content.
Test your localized app across multiple devices and screen sizes based on requirement. Also test your app again in an unsupported language and locale to ensure it properly reverts to the original file.
- App Store
The App store listing is the final step, which gives a first-hand impression to international users about your app, so highlight what’s great about it in all local versions.
Example of an app:
iPhone Translation Apps
Lonely Planet Phrasebooks
If you don’t know how to say, “where is the bathroom?” in the local language, chances are you didn’t pronounce the sentence correctly. The Lonely Planet Phrasebooks apps have the advantage of speaking phrases in the proper accent. For $0.99, each language app comes with 630 spoken phrases organized by activity.
Whether you are a football buff or a business traveler out to close a deal in a foreign country, or a summer vacationer exploring abroad, it’s always good to have a translation app handy to help you find your way.