Liz Elting is co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services.
The world’s population reached 7 billion in Oct. 2011, and according to an IDC report, one in every seven of those people owns a smart device. By now, we’ve all heard, “mobile is the future.” What the IDC report should tell us is that mobile is already here.
Emerging markets such as Brazil and China are particularly key, with companies scrambling to reach consumers in these spaces. As companies do this, they should be aware that a one-size-fits-all approach will be ineffective in establishing a presence.
What companies should do is create localized apps in order to increase specific customer bases. To do this you must have a strong localization strategy. Here are four things to consider when getting started.
1. Appropriately Translate the Content
It’s exactly what it sounds like. The content should be translated into the language of the target market. Make sure to work with language professionals who can best identify regional dialects or slang terms that will resonate with the intended audience. These experts will essentially keep things from getting lost in translation, or cultural blunders from happening.
2. Localize the Content
Companies must localize their apps to the standards of each regional market. This includes cultural nuances, idiomatic expressions, images and the layouts of mobile pages. Whether it’s ensuring that proper sports terminology is used for athletic brands, or that luxury fashion brands maintain their image rights in foreign markets, the key focus is to provide a “local” experience for target market consumers.
3. Determine the Operating Systems
Localizing apps for various platforms, like iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows, depends greatly on the target market. In China, for instance, Samsung holds the largest market share, with Apple coming in fifth. Make sure to research this, particularly if your business must prioritize apps for specific platforms. Doing this will also help identify the necessary post-localization testing, verification and workflow creation. A consultant can help identify which platforms are ideal to focus on in each country.
The final step presents one of the biggest challenges. Businesses must be sure to test apps on each platform for which the app is localized, in addition to the main mobile browsers. The testing process will show how an app works on various operating systems, and ensure consistency across all of them. It will also show whether the app needs to be adjusted to contain fewer graphics or media in order to load in a reasonable amount of time.
Flexibility is key when approaching the testing stage on mobile apps. Test apps directly on the devices themselves to ensure their compatibility. In other cases, apps lend themselves more to testing on emulators, which mimic specific mobile environments on a desktop.
Have you ever encountered an app that wasn’t localized properly? How did it affect the user experience?