App Localisation: How to Translate Your App in 6 Basic Steps

App localisation

So, you have just finished your first mobile app and want to share it with as many people as possible. Now is the time to expand your app’s horizons by expanding its language base. App localisation is the process of translating your app’s content into additional languages to launch in more locales. The math is simple: your app plus more languages equals greater customer base. The data also backs up this logic.

Distimo, an app analytics firm, completed a study on “The Impact of App Translations” that revealed localisation resulted in big gains. Downloads increased by 128%, and revenue increased by 26% for each country added via app localisation. What is even more shocking is these huge gains were achieved within just one week of release. With figures like that, the question changes from why to how to localise a mobile app.

A 6 Step Guide to App Localisation

1. Internationalisation of a Mobile App

Internationalisation is often incorrectly used as a synonym for localisation. Though related, they are two separate processes. Simply put, internationalisation modifies the code, which then enables you to modify content using localisation. You need to complete internationalisation one step ahead of localisation.

Ideally, you should complete internationalisation during the initial app development process. It is much more of a hassle and time-investment to retrofit the code at a later date, but it is possible. Either way, you will not be able to localise your app to different locales without first laying the internationalisation groundwork.

2. App Translation vs App Localisation

App Translation vs App Localisation

Just as internationalisation and localisation terms get confused, so do translation and localisation. The most defining difference between app translation services vs app localisation services is culturally based. Translation does not account for cultural differences. Localisation, however, interprets differences in units of measurements, currency, and more. Customers easily lose trust in a company and their product if cultural errors appear on their app. A bad translation can cost money and reputation. App localisation prevents such errors and supports customer confidence.

3. Prepare Reference Materials

Localisation Reference Materials

Reference materials are additional documents to supplement your app’s content. The purpose of these materials is to provide your translator with in-depth context of the source material. The more your translator understands, the better they can translate. A glossary and style guide are the two most common reference materials requested.

Glossary for App Localisation

A translation glossary ensures consistency. It is an index of key terms and their definitions and preferred translations. The list should include industry-specific terms and any words or phrases you want to be used consistently.

Style Guide for App Localisation

A glossary explains what is to be said, and a style guide describes how it is to be said. A good translation captures the voice of the brand. It presents the content in a tone consistent with the source. Translators accomplish this by referencing your style guide.

4. Select Translators

There are clear-cut dos and don’ts when selecting translators for app localisation. If you are going to do it, you need to do it right, and that requires quality translators. Here is what to avoid and what to consider when selecting a translator:

Translators to Avoid

Cheap App Localisation Freelancers

Machine Translators

Machine translation is often the cheapest option, even to the extent of being free. It should be no surprise, then, that it has minimal value with the least quality translations. Humans will always win when it comes to Human Translation vs Machine Translation.

Cheap Translators

Human translators may always win over machine translators, but there are also significant differences between human translators. Cheap translators are often native-speakers, but they lack the technical know-how to interpret your content properly. You want to avoid these amateurs and save yourself from costly corrections and possible embarrassment.

Freelance Translator vs Translation Agency

Freelance Translator

Freelance translators are often cheaper than translation agencies. But in addition to our previous warning about cheap services, they are also limited by their lack of support. By working individually, the workload falls solely on their shoulders. Quality awareness may also suffer from only one set of eyes on the project.

Translation Agency

Translation Agency

With translation agencies, the expression “two heads are better than one” is expanded to include many heads. Agencies usually offer specific app localisation services in addition to their standard app translation services.  The team of translators can complete a project more quickly and accurately for many reasons, including:

  • Additional Screening Steps: ensures comprehensive understanding and accurate localisation
  • Experience: agencies regularly deal with app localisations
  • Secondary Proofreading: Another native-speaker proofreads to maximise accuracy
  • And more

Freelance translators may suffice on smaller, less complex projects. But app localisation is an in-depth, interconnected process that requires an experienced team to correctly complete. Remember, the better the localisation, the more revenue gains you will experience. You cannot only consider the cost. You must consider the value. Translation agencies certainly offer the most value.

5. Test the App Localisation

App Localisation Testing

Once inputted, you should test the translations on mobile devices. The localisation tester should be fluent in the new language as well as familiar with the app. Their goal is to catch bugs, including typing errors, UI issues, untranslated content, or unnatural translations. It is best to have a new native-speaking translator test the app rather than one who was a part of the original translation service team. Fresh eyes will catch the most mistakes.

6. Launch

Now the fun part! Launch your app and advertise its new language capabilities to current and potential customers. Be sure you have tracking software in place to gauge its success. By analysing the weekly and monthly growth, you can determine if and when you should expand again.

Localisation may still seem complex, but a good team can make the process fast and easy. Avo Translations has a global network of native-speaking translators who have extensive experience with localisation. Our localisation services include mobile app localisation as well as website, software, video game, advertising, social media, and more localisation services.

Receive a free quote to see for yourself how Avo Translations can accurately and affordably localise your mobile app.