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What Is App Localization and it’s Importance

Can you think of any film, story, or song that everybody seems to be familiar with, or admire? Take Titanic as an example, or The Thousand and One Nights. What brings global stories together is that they speak to every person, or in other words, people find them relatable. 

What does this have to do with App Localization, you might ask?

The business/customer relationship works in a similar way to the Film/audience. For a business to gain the trust and loyalty of customers, it has to be earned through speaking their language and foregrounding mutual respect. 

You can think of app localization as one important way in which businesses can do so.


What Is App Localization

Firstly, localization can be defined as ‘contextualized and culturally specific translation’. It is a kind of translation that is most devoted to the target language, not the source language. Localization is the process of transcending both language and culture borders.

When purchasing from an online store, you will notice that the website or the application will change the currency below each product depending on your location. If you are in Egypt, the pricing will be in the Egyptian pound, and if for any reason the location is to be Saudi Arabia or the United States, the current will change to Riyal or US Dollars. 

This is just one example of how app localization takes care of all the cultural aspects, including language, images, terminologies, gestures, topics, currency, measurements, date formats, gender roles, legal requirements, time zones, and any other culturally specific factors or symbols.

Mobile app localizations can be divided into technical, cultural, and visual. 


Let’s take an example: 

In recent years, the major discount season, popularly called ‘Black Friday’ in the United States, has been changed to White Friday in the Middle East. This simple alternation is one kind of cultural localization, because in the MENA, Friday is a religious day, and the color black has negative connotations in the Arabic language. 


Let’s take another example:

Changing date formats from one region to another is a technical aspect of localization. Some regions like Europe, North America, and North Africa go by the (Day/Month/ Year) format, while China and Korea use the (Year/ Month/ Day) format.



Why App Localization is Important  

The main purpose behind mobile app localization is to provide a better user experience (UX) to potential customers, while one error in translation can be a huge turn-off for customers, getting cultural nuances correctly can earn their trust and respect.

App localization could play a primary role in customer satisfaction, increasing app downloads, receiving better reviews, improving app visibility and ranking, and elevating conversion rates and engagement; all of which contribute to skyrocketing your business growth abroad.

In the early 2000s when Starbucks entered Saudi Arabia for the first time, it removed the ‘siren’ from its logo because it was considered offensive to Saudi women. Although it was brought again to their logo in Saudi in later years. 

However, a negative example due to the lack of localization occurred in 2017 when Nivea dedicated a campaign to the Middle East and sloganeered it ‘white is purity’ which was received by backlash, given its racist connotations. 

The examples of how businesses undermine the importance of localization are plenty, although both of those happened in advertising campaigns and not ‘mobile applications’ yet the concept remains the same.



Types of Mobile App Localization

Mainly, there are two kinds of mobile app localization approaches: Minimum Viable Localization (MVL), and Full App Localization. Choosing any one of both depends on the business goals. 

The MVl is a focused and to the point approach. It targets the things essential to be localized and leaves out minor things. Allowing for the app to be ready to function in the target market, while still minimizing costs. Yet this approach is not entirely comprehensive.

Unlike MVl, the Full App method provides a more personalized and culturally adapted experience on the app. The core difference between this and the MVl is that the Full App experience feel completely catered and in resonance with the target audience, as if the app was originally made in their region, and not localized. However, this approach is more expensive, and takes much longer to be implemented.



How to Localize Your App

Before starting with the localization process, market research needs to take place in order to identify target markets. 

After that, based on the research, your localization strategy will become 10 times easier. You will have a better grasp of which countries are the major targets. You will also find that there are languages used in many countries across the world, like English, and Spanish, more than others.

You might also want to take a closer look at your competitors, and what their customers are saying about the user experience on their application. 

Additionally, localizations require previous planning. For example, the application codebase in the beginning needs to be adaptable to future app localization.


By mentioning codebase preparation, this process is known as SAAS Localization, which involves structuring a flexible software that allows for a smooth localization process.

Common App Localization Challenges

In mobile app localization, a translator or linguist who deals with different languages will often face the challenge of text contraction or expansion. 

For instance, translating from English to Arabic the text could expand by 25 %, while the content could contract significantly when translating to Chinese.

Another challenge could be the trap of cultural sensitivity. Even a simple color could be offensive for a user in another place in the world. 

When localizing from English to Arabic in an app, this could be an overwhelming task because of the different text alignment. It will require the entire set up of the app, including swiping to accommodate the RTL text alignment of the Arabic language. 

Overall, localization-especially with complicated applications like mobile games-can be a time-consuming, and even expensive process that needs lots of planning and testing.



Why App Localization is Vital for App Growth

When approached right, app localization is the recipe for app growth.

Localizing your app in the App Store or Google Play will increase app downloads because it speaks to the native people. A localized app listing can lead to globalizing your business.

Moreover, it will gain recognition from app stores; a localized app will rank higher, and consequently get more attention.

Customers appreciate a business that speaks their language and addresses them in a familiar voice, when your app provides that, the chances are customers will stick around.

Lastly, this adaptation could be very rewarding, making bigger room for business profit in different countries around the world.



Tips for Localizing Your App

There are lots of best practices involved with app localization, below are some of the most important ones:

-Translating to the target language correctly, while keeping in mind idioms and terminology in different cultures.

-Changing currency if needed.

-Changing time zones depending on location.

-Assigning the correct language keyboard.

-Do not embed text in images. This is because even images are involved in the localization process, customized, and personalized depending on the audience.

-Second guessing symbols, icons, and visuals that are applicable in one country and could have a negative impact in another.

-Conducting another keyword research optimized for the target audience.

-Being mindful of hand gestures because they mean different things across cultures, one hand gesture with a positive connotation can be offensive in someone else’s culture.

-Avoiding emojis that could be offensive.

For instance, the thumbs-up gesture-which means ‘okay’, or ‘good’ in the United States is actually offensive in a country like Iraq.

One of the best ways to avoid upsetting foreign customers, or getting laughed at, is by hiring natives who already know about these cultural specifics.

-Implement App Store Optimization or (ASO) to improve the app ranking. This includes localization of app titles, screenshots, keywords, and descriptions.

-Testing, Testing, Testing! Localization testing on a variety of devices is a must.



How Fast Trans can help in localizing your App

Are you looking for a way to make your business strive in the MENA region? 

Fast Trans company offers a variety localization services. With its understanding of the importance of localization on businesses, and with a solid understanding of the challenges of localization, Fast Trans’ team of experts provide their clients a stress-free localization process, coupled with an affordable price, that ensures in the end a smooth and cost effective outcome.

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