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Let's Localize Your Mobile App: Part II

In this article, Oliver Bock provides five helpful tips for localizing your mobile application so that you can reach the largest audience possible.

· Mobile Zone

Did you miss out on Part I? Read it here so you can get some base information before starting!

If you’ve decided that it’s time to get your app into the global market, then it goes without saying that you’ll want to reach the largest audience possible. This means that you’ll need to localize with Android and iOS platforms in mind. While the process isn’t wildly different, some of the rules and problems you’ll run into are. Here’s a basic step-by-step guide for how to localize your app.

1. Gather Your Resources

The assets, or resources, of your app are all the elements that aren’t related to coding. This includes your content, images, tutorials, or any other data file that accompanies your program’s executable code. For optimum mobile app localization, you’ll need to externalize your resources so that the translation and localization process can begin, creating new language versions of each file.

2. Think About the Layout

Just as when designing your website for a global audience, the issue of space when it comes to your app design is equally important. When designing an app with localization in mind, make sure that you think about the length of words and the fact that different languages take up different amounts of space. Keep your design flexible to accommodate these language discrepancies. Ensure that your app allows for the expansion and contraction of texts.

French, Spanish, and German, for example, can take up to 30% more space than English, and some languages are written vertically or right to left. If you know you’ll be localizing in Arabic or Farsi, you could think about implementing support for RTL layouts. (Check out these resources for RTL support for Android and for iOS.)

If you design with these considerations in mind, you should be able to use a single set of layouts for all the languages you support. But you may have to create some alternative layouts for any languages that don’t fit.

Luckily, when it comes to mobile app localization, the Android and iOS operating systems already provide a format for converting times, dates, times, currencies, and other entites that vary by locale. Use the system made available to you rather than your own, as this will eradicate compatibility issues.

3. Translators Need Context

As any good product manager knows, translators need context to correctly convey meaning from one language to another. When you send your resources out for the texts to be translated into regional languages, make sure you provide them with context.

If your translators know where the words they are translating are meant to go, then they’ll work more accurately and be more productive. Giving translators context will greatly speed up app translation, where the size of the screen and layout can vary from one device to another.

4. App Localization Testing

Once your strings are translated and your resources returned, it’s time to move everything back into your app for testing. You’ll need to implement rigorous localization and linguistic testing to make sure there are no issues in your content or layout.

The best way of testing is to establish a testing environment that includes multiple virtual devices and different screen sizes. These will vary depending on the markets you decide to target, and you’ll need to gather this information from the research you carry out beforehand.

Prepare yourself for certain common issues, such as line wrapping, breaks in sentences and strings, and incorrect layout. You may also find some texts that haven’t been translated. If you can’t solve an issue where the language goes outside of the boundaries of your design, you might have to create a custom layout for it. Be sure to test rigorously, as it’s better that you find the mistakes than your customers.

5. App Store Optimization (ASO)

Just like its sister, search engine optimization, app store optimization (ASO) is about optimizing your content to get greater visibility in the app store. You’ll need to study your local audiences in detail and make sure that you’re using the right search terms and optimized content for their region.

The correct translation of your app’s name, description and keywords will help local users find it more easily. Also, think about things like your icon and how it will look on iOS and Android. The edges are rounded on iOS and on Android they are square, for example.

Following these steps when localizing your mobile app is a great way to start, but using a translation management software that helps you keep all your projects and phases in one place allows your contributors to collaborate and gives your translators context will smooth the localization process, making it faster and easier for all parties involved and ensuring that you get a slice of the international market sooner.

Topics:
mobile ,localization ,applications

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