International Business Strategies

Best Practices for Global Application Localisation

Learn how to prepare to localise your mobile app for global audiences and what technologies are best to get you there.

Reagan Evans's avatar
Reagan Evans

October 12, 2023


What is Global App Localisation? 

App localisation refers to the process of adapting a mobile application to meet the specific linguistic, cultural, and usability needs of a target market. Global app localisation involves a comprehensive strategy that includes localising the app's content, interface, and functionality for various languages, cultures, and regions worldwide, ensuring it is appropriately adapted to meet diverse user needs globally. The challenge is higher as it encompasses understanding and implementing a wide range of localisations to cater to various global markets simultaneously. 

Apps in the Global Market 

If you’re keeping your app local only to the U.S., you could be missing out on some serious growth potential. You’ll need to engage in some research, which we’ll talk about later, but generally smart phone and mobile application usage is huge globally. 

Check out some of the potential benefits of localising for international markets: 

Economic Potential: North American consumers generate only 31% of app revenue, highlighting the substantial market presence internationally. 

Market Penetration: China, with its 989 million internet users, accounts for 40% of global mobile app spending, illustrating the potential in localising for varied markets. 

Enhanced Visibility: Proper mobile app localisation can pave the way for global visibility and facilitate access to various countries and languages. 

Revenue Generation: The U.S. only accounts for 28% of the free download market and 34% of global revenue from iPhone apps, underlining the revenue opportunities beyond the domestic market. 

When Should You Localise Your App? 

If your app is performing well domestically, you could just stop there. But you may find that there is interest abroad or that you have a growing following outside of your original market. 

If you’re thinking about global application localisation, take these steps first to decide if now is the right time: 

  1. Market Research: Undertake comprehensive research to identify potential markets where your app might fulfill a need or solve a problem. 
  2. User Demographics: Analyze the demographics of your current users to identify any existing demand in non-localised markets.  
  3. Competitor Analysis: Investigate if competitors are gaining traction in markets where your app is not localised. 
  4. Cultural Relevance: Evaluate whether the app’s core functionality and content have universal or adaptable appeal across various cultures. 
  5. Adaptability: Ensure that the app’s features and content can be adapted to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of different markets without losing its core value proposition. 
  6. Regulatory Compliance: Assess if the app can comply with the regulatory and legal frameworks of potential target markets. 

Technologies for App Localisation 

There are a number of technologies that can handle mobile app localisation. You have to decide which will suite your needs and skills the best. Of course, working with a professional website localisation service allows you to choose which tool works best and takes the burden off your internal team. 

Here are some of your best options for global app localisation: 

APIs & Connectors 

Application Programming Interfaces facilitate the direct communication between your app and translation management systems. A business has the capability to link its mobile application to translation service vendors to "retrieve" and adapt new content through translation integration.  

Following translation, a callback alert will be sent, enabling the client to request the newly translated content. Alternatively, the application may intermittently "poll" our API to check the status of a translation job. 

Mobile SDKs and Translation Service Providers 

Mobile Software Development Kits (SDKs) are obtainable software bundles that come with all necessary tools for mobile app development. Regarding mobile app translation, an SDK from a translation service provider can translate new textual content (such as text strings) without necessitating the app to be resubmitted. 

Proxy Translation 

Proxy Translation is a technology that automatically translates content being served via apps by acting as an intermediary layer between the app and the user. A translation proxy operates by acting as a server application, which intercepts communication between the app and its end users, translating content dynamically in real-time. 

Companies sporting a streamlined marketing team, who are in search of a more autonomous strategy for overseeing their translation processes, especially concerning HTML5 and Hybrid Apps, might implement a proxy translation method for app localisation. 

Proxy technology has some amazing benefits when it comes to localising applications: 

  • Instant Localisation: Quickly serve localised content without having to manually translate all information. 
  • Real-time Translation: Capable of dynamically translating website content in real time. 

Best Practices for Successful App Localisation 

App and software localisation can be very different from website translation. There are some important factors and best practices to consider when optimizing your app for a global audience. 

Prepare for text format to change 

The space needed in design varies among different languages. For instance, when translating from English to German, there may be a 20-35% increase in text length, while translating from English to Swedish might lead to a 20-35% reduction in text size. 

Translated images and local ads 

Just as words need to be translated, you need to also pay attention to any images or graphics in your mobile app. Words, phrases, graphics, and animations need to resonate with your global audience. Along those same lines, any ads you feature throughout your app should properly target each new multilingual market. 

App Store Optimization 

Much like traditional SEO, where internet marketers try to enhance web page visibility in search engine outcomes, app developers use App Store Optimization (ASO) strategies to elevate their app’s positioning in app store search outcomes.  

This involves refining app names, keywords, visuals, descriptions, and more. For a global app, ASO must be initiated from the ground up in each language, requiring research to identify dominant search terms and phrases that will navigate potential users to your app. 

Moreover, contemplating the app content presentation on the user-interface of Apple and Google app stores is vital. Ensuring your app adheres to the Apple app store's product page suggestions and the Google Play store's preview assets is pivotal.  

These guidelines will direct you through the fundamental components to highlight your app's capabilities and functionalities on its store listing page, assisting in drawing new users. Integrating localisation into the preview components will instantaneously demonstrate to individuals seeking your app that it will provide features they can comprehend and value. 

Take Your Mobile App to New Territories 

As the number of mobile phone users continues to climb, global brands have introduced apps for a range of services including shopping, banking, transportation, and healthcare. Globalization enables companies to vie for attention in overseas markets and build customer loyalty by employing mobile app localisation to engage users in their local language. 

By thoroughly localising a mobile app, a comprehensive experience can be crafted for customers by catering to them in their language of choice, thereby adding substantial value across all stages of the buyer’s journey. 

With the right technology and translation partner, the process couldn't be easier. MotionPoint's software localisation solutions can help you create relationships with your global audience that help you build your brand across borders. We deliver quality translated content for web, native, or hybrid mobile apps. Learn more by reaching out to us today. 

Last updated on October 12, 2023
Reagan Evans's avatar

About Reagan Evans

Reagan Evans is MotionPoint's SVP of Sales. He has a strong background in sales and data management and has nearly 10 years of executive level experience in the field. He uses his expertise in global sales, new business development, sales production, and data organisation to drive MotionPoint's market expansion and new client acquisition. Evans leverages MotionPoint's industry-leading technology to drive sales and ensure higher customer satisfaction.

Reagan Evans's avatar
Reagan Evans

SVP, Head of Sales


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