It is intrinsic to developing software that it resonates with the ethos, culture and the general trend of that region to garner a more relevant audience. It is only when a customer is able to relate to the website or app that increases the chances of making a sale and increase the usability of the app or website. This is exactly why the concept of localisation of mobile apps and websites is gaining paramount importance in this day and age. It is a gradual process of extrapolating the language, culture, region-centric market and curate certain look and feel to understand what will resonate with users the best. And then interweave the information and implement it in designing mobile apps and websites. The localisation process not only reflects in the front-end design of mobile apps and websites but the practice is also exercised while making the related software help files, documentation and digital marketing the app or website.

While discussing localisation, it becomes imperative that the internationalisation of apps and websites forms an innate part of the overall process of localisation. While localisation involves aspects like date and time format, symbols, icons, colours, currency, usage of keyboard and the likes, internationalization, on the other hand, eases the process of localisation by taking into account the design, development, legal documentation which allows localising an app or website. Internationalization separates the localisable elements from the source code or content, which makes the process of localisation facile. In fact, the moment a business plans to localise its app – that’s internationalization.

Why is it of importance to localise your mobile app or website?

The whole idea is to render customers with a feeling that the mobile app or website is created bespoke just for them. It is duly internalizing the designing of an app or website by supporting local standards like day, date, time, the currency that targets the local markets. A survey has it hat 86.2% of the people say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than the price. 95% of the Chinese online customers have a greater comfort level with the websites in their own language and only 1% of the English websites are preferred to customers in China. These efforts if put in correctly augments the sale of the business and keep the cardinal players engaged. Localisation creates ripple effects which foster business to keep ahead of the competition and increase their sales. The apps see a distinct rise in their downloads which help them to grasp higher app store ranking.

What are the best practices adopted to localise an app or a website?

The stepping stone towards successful localisation of an app or website includes adhering to the certain points that help to achieve smooth localisation process. It is best to have the best localisation practices on board from the starting o the development than altering the code at a later stage.

  • At the time of designing, it is suggested to create graphics that target local market. They should be sensitive to the colours and icons used that are very sensitive and may vary from culture to culture in the targeted markets. What meaning a clour and an icon hold in one culture may mean completely different in other culture.
  • Keeping optimum space in the layout to fit the translated text. The length of each word may vary from language to language. For example, the German language words occupy more space than the Japanese or English words. Another example can be best explained with the example of Persian or Arabic text which has a reverse direction which in turn also reveres the order of the images placed. This is nuanced to what e are normally accustomed to reading in the English language.
  • It is always suggested to internationalise and never hard code the program. The program should be developed in such a way that it can be localised without disturbing the main code by structuring the localisable resources into separate files and folder.
  • Conscious efforts are put in at the time of development to ensure that source code changes can be easily tracked. This saves ample time and energy whenever a code is to be altered localisation. This can be of critical importance when an app demands regular updates.
  • Localising the keywords, metadata and other information for each target locale on the list plays a key role. Curating content that is culture-sensitive eliminates any degree of offending the target local audience.
  • It is also wise to know, understand and abide by the local rules and regulations and comply with them at the time of development to avoid any discrepancies of the rules and regulations at a later stage.

These seemingly minute steps, if well taken care of at the time of the development can lead to successful localisation of the app and transcend to major time and efforts saving practices.

What practices should one follow to test a localised app or website for its quality assurance?

Developing a localised app or website is just half the job done. What completes this process is the efficient testing of these apps and websites to achieve recommended quality standards.

  • Efficiently integrate the localised resource files to the main code and check its execution efficiency.
  • It is advised to have an initial beta release of the app/website to test the localised product. This ensures that all the bugs related to the localisation are resolved before its final release.
  • Pay attention to translation accuracy and spelling errors. It is often noted that due to the lack of knowledge of various cultures and languages, one might often over the spelling errors and accuracy of the translated text.
  • Verifying the content is pivotal to comply with the local culture and political sensitivities of people. Help document and user manual should comply with the localisation standards.

Key take away points

With native English representing only 4.83% of the total world population, the importance of the localising your app or websites cannot be stressed enough for the multifaceted benefits it brings to a business. Without localization, businesses fail to have a global presence and connect with a larger mass. It is a widely followed practice to adhere to the native local culture of the region a business so as to carve a niche market in the local culture. In order to become a household name, a business must ardently adopt the idea to localise their business and plunge into taking on to new business markets.

Adopting effective localization practices aides a business in expanding its customer base and bring customers from across cultures and region under its umbrella. The app and websites can be monetised to generate revenue from a global market when you speak your customer’s language!