Let’s talk about localization, what makes it important today and is there a way to get affordable localization in the modern industry, why localization to as many languages as possible should be a top priority for anyone interested in attracting a wider audience, and how one would determine the languages their apps should support.
What is a localization and how is it different to translation?
While translation is a widely-used term in the modern world, stating that at its core the localization and translation are the same thing will be considered as funny and true at the same time due to the fact that not everyone is familiar with the exact meaning of the word and the exact process behind it. However, aspiring and professional translators tend to pay close attention to this topic, and it’s important to know what makes a quality translation and a quality localization.
Translation is done by transferring the meaning of the spoken or written material to another language, or some would say, reconstructing this meaning in a different language, which could apply to anything, from keywords selection to simple sentences. However, the localization gets further than that. While translation may try to take the cultural differences into account, some parts of the meaning are either lost or end up being somewhat distorted or completely incomprehensible due to the difference in culture, traditions, manner of speech, etc.
The adaptation of the meaning and trying to tailor the material to the target audience and make it understandable to them on the lowest level possible is one of the biggest challenges and charms of the localization. Its attempts to connect two completely different cultures and mindsets with each other to make sure that the audience doesn’t feel alienated to the content is a commendable effort – especially when it works right.
Why localization is necessary
One of the best examples of why the localization is necessary can be easily provided through the personal experience. Let’s recall the awkward moments from the movie or nonsensical sentences from books. There are times when the joke is badly-translated and communicates the wrong idea to the audience, but there are also cases when the joke is impossible to translate without the necessity to create a different joke, understandable to the target audience. Otherwise, there are chances that the director’s and actors’ hard work will be somewhat undermined just because the viewer ended up thinking “What a stupid joke” or “Huh? This was a joke?” at the key part of the film.
However, localization is not always about the humor. It’s may also be about such cultural differences as various idioms and sayings that require additional iteration or complete rewriting in a different language or finding the equivalent idiom or saying, and sometimes it’s not about the language at all. For example, in some cultures specific colors have different meaning, and also in different parts of the world the driver’s seat has a different position in the car or bus, which makes it harder to avoid confusing or alienating the consumer.
How localization is related to mobile apps
Localization can also be used as a marketing tool for mobile apps. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best ways to widen the audience – while there are cases when people get shocked and start asking questions like “Why bother? Everyone in the world speaks English today!”, the truth is – that’s not exactly true.
While there are indeed many English speakers out there, the majority of the so-called “speakers” listed in the various statistics posted on the internet have drastically different levels of English. Some of the non-native English speakers are great, while others can only hold a simple conversation, and there could be the cases of people who only know a few phrases or words – sometimes the statistics don’t take that into account, which doesn’t make the matters easier. The people may get a wrong message from this kind of statistics, and that’s why localization is usually valued by those who take time to research the opportunities it brings to the business or field, such as mobile app localization.
The app localization brings one huge of the biggest benefits that are usually impossible to achieve in any other way (except by teaching English to everyone in the world and making sure that they speak it on the native level) – it expands the potential audience and makes it easier for the new people to “get into” your app. If you are making complex software that requires full understanding from the target user or if you are making a big game with a lot of in-game text, the localization is essential in this case. Apart from that, it’s one of the easiest ways to attract more people and increase the number of downloads.
Due to increasing competition on the mobile markets, mobile localization is getting higher demand, especially when you consider it as a way to show the users from the foreign countries that you care about them, which would potentially help in the promotion of your application or game.
How to get my app localized?
The popular demand from all kinds of fields and industries makes translation and localization one of the most popular services today. Because of that, there are several benefits for everyone, including mobile developers and publishers, such as affordable prices and the availability of professionals in specific fields, such as medical translation. Because of that, iOS app localization is available to anyone with enough funds to cover the localization of all text within the app.
You can use freelance translation services and translation agencies. Usually, the price of a good localization starts with $0.06 per word, however, while agencies tend to charge a lot more than that (starting with $0.10 per word), you should take into account that the majority of modern agencies are outsourcing their work to freelance translators to cut the costs of a full-fledged localization. The recommended iOS and Android app localization service is 2Polyglot.com.
How to determine which languages should I support?
Take a closer look at the store analytics to figure out which languages you should support. It’s recommended to add languages based on the popularity of your app in specific regions. However, it’s not that easy to determine where app is popular based on the untranslated version. Therefore, you can use the EFIGS standard (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish) as a start – it gives you a rather wide audience and allows you to determine whether the localization is worth the investment in these regions or not.
Additionally, you may consider adding the following languages later to expand your audience even further:
- Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese);
In order to reach the maximum effect from the localization as a marketing device, one has also invest into other types of the promotional methods, but when it comes to localization just for the sake of it, it’s a good way to expand your audience and make your brand recognizable around the world, not just in English-speaking parts.