Best Practices for Web App Localization

Can’t be bothered making your morning coffee today? Don’t worry, I’m sure there’s someone at the other end of an app waiting to bring one round to you. In fact, in today’s smartphone society there are apps to help you navigate all aspects of daily life, from choosing what to wear, getting to work, buying lunch and, well, you know the rest. After all, there were almost 3 million apps available at the last count. But with this vast array of choice, how do you make your app survive and thrive on a global scale? Like most things, the key is in the planning.

Don’t Mix Code and Content

Web application translation becomes a lot easier if your translators don’t have to fit their work around your code. Make sure your app is designed so that just the text can be easily extracted and converted into a translation-friendly format. Not only will this lead to better translations, it also means that your linguists can’t introduce any mistakes into the code by accident, and if the code does need a tweak, your developers will thank you for only having to make fixes in one place. This development method will also make it much easier to add new languages as you expand your reach.

Save Space for Others

Did you know that what can be said in 100 characters of English text would typically require 130 characters in Spanish? The same goes for most of the major European languages, such as French, German, and Italian. If you haven’t left enough space to get your message across you’ll be left with a crowded screen, or your app translator will be forced to cut some things out. For some Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese the reverse is often true. These character-based languages require less space and, if you haven’t planned ahead, your screen could end up looking quite empty. Clearly, none of these situations are ideal. Take the time to factor multilingual layouts into your app development and there’ll be room for everyone.

Image Control

A basic rule of thumb in web application internationalization is to keep embedded text out of your images. If text really is necessary, the best option is to overlay it so it can be easily extracted and localized. However, that’s not your only consideration when managing the images in your app. It’s vital to be aware of how an image will be interpreted in different regions, cultures, and religions. The last thing you want is for what you consider to be harmless picture to cause offence in your target market on the other side of the world. You choose your words carefully – choose your images carefully too.

Speak to the Experts

Ultimately, getting the support of a reliable partner that offers app localization services will make life a lot easier. Navigating your way through such issues as pluralization, number, time and date formats, currencies, colours or symbols requires expert help. A company specialized in Android and IOS app localization will make sure all these things are planned for from the beginning and controlled during production. Aside from managing the linguistic side of the mobile app localization process, they can also advise on varying legal requirements and restrictions, and make sure the right message reaches the locals in your new markets.

So you can break for a coffee, whether you make it yourself or not.