Facebook is available in 84 languages. Twitter can be accessed in 32 languages. Gmail is available in 58 languages and Pinterest in 31 languages. WhatsApp is available in 20 languages.
The similarity between these apps is that they are customised, diversified and translated into local languages.
Think about this. If your app is already in the English language and if you add a few more – chances are that you will be able to reach more than half of the global mobile users.
The data to back this is:
In this post, we take you through the 6 things you should know before hiring a translator for your app – to be able to choose the right one.
Why do you need translation?
Common Sense Advisory conducted a survey of 2,400 consumers to understand the relation between language and user behaviour and how closely do these factors relate to each other.
Their findings were:
These statistics indicate the importance of translating your mobile app into local languages.
Another study conducted by European Commission puts forth the following findings:
This chart illustrates the most used languages on the internet as of 2016.
This chart demonstrates the importance of language translation for mobile apps.
App localisation means translating all the language elements in your app into a local language to target a specific country.
While translating, localise the content or the business logic according to a specific country’s laws and guidelines.
For instance, if you are building a healthcare app, the laws will vary in every country.
In the case of a weather app, some countries use temperature in Fahrenheit while others are more comfortable with Celsius. Localising your app according to these parameters will result in a smooth end-user experience.
Why localise your app?
This question can be counter-questioned as: why limit your app’s presence to a single market?
A study conducted by Appia found – 86% of localised app marketing campaigns outperformed mobile app marketing campaigns in English in click-through rates and conversions.
Launching your app in a foreign market can boost downloads by 128% and revenues by 26% for every country added via app localisation.
According to a report titled Can’t Read, Won’t Buy, 75% of customers prefer to purchase products in their own language.
Experts suggest taking your app to markets in China, India, Russia, Japan, Spain and Brazil over the next few years could be a successful strategy to build sustainable traction.
How to figure out the target countries and regions for app translation?
Countries with a high percentage of smartphone ownership and app usage and the ones growing rapidly should be on your radar.
A second factor to consider is the category of your app. Suppose your app falls in the dating category. Look for countries with the usage of dating apps via mobile devices.
Whether to completely localise or partially localise?
The degree of localisation of your app will depend on the translation resources at your disposal.
Start with translating your app’s keywords and app description. Moving ahead, you could translate the website.
The app Harlem Shake Yourself increased its downloads by 767% by simply localising app keywords.
David Janner, who developed a funny dance video marker app, performed an experiment. He noticed 76% of the total app traffic coming from English speaking countries before app localisation.
Post localisation, the English language users made up only 10% of downloads while the total volume increased from 3,000 per month to more than 23,000 per month.
Translation is one of the main reasons for your app to get rejected from the App Store.
If translating the app is a part of your app marketing strategy, consider customising the design based on the content. The text could become either longer or shorter when translated into other languages from English.
For example, Spanish, German, French and Italian languages expand by 20 per cent. Korean, Thai, Chinese and Danish might contract by up to 20%.
Languages such as Arabic, Persian and Hebrew use right-to-left (RTL) scripts. So leave room for app design.
Also, some symbols, icons and text that work for one country may not work in another country – take into consideration the app icons if they include any such elements.
When Coca-Cola entered the Chinese market, they had to change the name of their app. Coca-Cola in Chinese meant “Bite the wax tadpole”. The translated and rebranded name means “Delicious, able to enjoy”.
Before hiring an app translator, understand the degree of translation your app requires. The degree of translation will depend on the kind of app you’re building.
Mode of translation
Get a clear idea about who would be doing the actual translation process. This deeply impacts the cost structure, quality assurance and efficiency of the app. The three options you can explore are:
However, some companies have got great results with this method. WhatsApp is one such app that depends on its loyal users for all its app translation needs.
Gonzalo Juarez, the founder of eTips, increased his app downloads by 200% by app store optimisation.
The most important elements of App Store Optimisation to be looked into while translating the mobile app are:
Keywords – Start with translating the mobile app’s keywords. If you have budget constraints, use Google Translate to directly translate the keywords.
These free tools are not accurate all the time. They can be used when you are translating keywords and not phrases.
App name – Translate your app name because this is the first thing your users will notice along with the app icon.
Most companies prefer to use human translators instead of automated tools and software’s for this step.
While the keywords are hidden from the users, the app name is displayed in the front and centre. Hence the accuracy of translation is extremely important.
Any errors in the app name or misleading meanings could lead to rejection of the app by the app store. Use services such as Translate by Humans. We proofread after the initial translation to ensure the most accurate translation.
Screenshots – Translating screenshots has a huge impact on downloads since 70% of people download apps based on the screenshots.
Ideally, you should localise the text outside the app (app store description) and the text within the app.
Description – While translating the description, focus on not just the first one or two lines but the entire description. Highlight the main benefits of the app and share social proof.
Research shows that 12 languages account for 80% of the global population. From these 12, English, Spanish and Chinese cover more than 50% of the online population. This means, to expand the reach of your app you would have to take it to newer markets.
In most cases, there are two main content areas that have to be translated – the functionality of the app – the code and the content within the app. The functionality is essential to run the app while content creates a good user experience. The importance of each aspect is dependent on each business. Decide which one is more crucial for your app.
Code – Before translating the app, separate the content from the code. Because the underlying code will be written in a coding language and mostly doesn’t require much translation. Additionally, understand where the code pulls the content which needs to be translated.
App content – The main step is to select the parts of the user interface that need to be translated for users to use the app seamlessly.
Normally while translating, the mobile app users would want to see menus, settings and navigation buttons in their local language. These user interface elements may have to be resized based on the text (longer or shorter) in different languages. Adjust the measurements, currency, time, maps and directions to meet the local rules.
If the content is being pulled from an external content source, for example – from a news-reading app. In such a case, you would need to translate the content. Suppose there is user-generated content in your app, which varies from tagging saved content to making detailed notes. In such cases, consider if your mobile app would accept user-generated content and it’s working within the app. It is wise to plan ahead and translate the common phrases in the main target language and prepopulate it within the apps.
Context is another important part of app translation. Depending on the function, different words need to be used in different contexts under variable circumstances. Let’s 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 within the app.
Ideally, the translator should be able to match the quality of the translated app with the quality and functionality of the original app you started with.
The knowledge about these points gives you a clear idea about the kind of translator you would want to hire.