The mobile app version of your website might be the only contact a potential user has with your brand. Consider a region like India, where 34% of the population uses a mobile device for internet access. This is their only connection in many cases, so your app will be their only interaction with your company. Web app localization is a crucial part of your success in such regions.
Website localization is already one of the most challenging translation projects because of how often sites change. With an app, that’s going to be even more complicated. However, you can implement some best practices to streamline your market entry and improve your chances of success.
6 Web App Localization Best Practices
A web app is a program that runs off a web server rather than the device’s operating system. For most businesses, that will mean the version of the website consumers see when they use their mobile devices. When managing web app localization, there are six best practices you should implement.
- Establish strong coding protocols: Coders tend to approach projects in their own way. If you asked four how to accomplish a task, chances are, you’d get four different answers. However, inconsistent coding can lead to a lot of problems when it comes to translation. Make sure you establish proper file engineering strategies related to the treatment of variables, regular expressions, comments, and more. Also, parse and segment your content and filter well. These basic steps will make it far easier to translate content later.
- Create a connector strategy: Web apps get updated a lot and without a strategy, you’ll have to manually upload and download content for translation every time something changes. Connectors eliminate the manual steps by supporting a continuous localization strategy that allows you to automatically send content for translation and post it upon completion.
- Map your key terms: Every business has key terms and phrases that are important for its style and tone. On top of that, many of these words also feed the search engine optimization strategy that will help searchers discover a site. You should map these terms to their appropriate counterparts in foreign languages to preserve your brand’s style and SEO strategy.
- Get an early start on in-country review: We’ve seen a lot of businesses save their in-country review for their final step–that’s a mistake. You want an in-country review to occur very early in your process so you can align your style and voice in new regions. After all, your content will power your translation memory. Without in-country review, you’re dealing with a “garbage in, garbage out” scenario within this valuable tool. Do an in-country review at the earliest possible point to ensure your TM is powered with accurate information to reflect your brand.
- Document processes: The median employee tenure in the US is about four years–many major markets, like China and India, have even shorter tenure intervals. That means that you’re going to have to replace your in-country marketing team at some point. Your knowledge management requires careful mapping and documentation to ensure consistency. Otherwise, when a new person comes on board, they may reinvent the wheel and disrupt your market alignment.
- Set a functional QA process: Quality assurance is standard after translation, but it’s not always practical. Just because the content is correctly translated doesn’t mean it works on the web app. You need a functional QA process that allows you to test the result in a staging or beta environment. This step ensures the translation does not damage the user experience.
These best practices help you establish a “wash, rinse, repeat” cycle that can be used to build a process that will help you enter any market. It’s a strategy that builds on itself–the more you do it, the better it gets. Of course, all of this will depend on you choosing the right people for your team.
Building the Right Team to Tackle an App Localization Project
To tackle your app localization project, you’re going to need a team of SMEs–with a bit of a twist. Instead of subject matter experts, work with subject-matter enthusiasts. Subject matter experts can be a bit rigid in their thinking and may have their own preferred terms and vernacular that they think should always be used, regardless of the brand’s preference. Meanwhile, enthusiasts are a bit more fluid and open to change.
Enthusiasts are also capable of connecting on the same level as your target consumers. In some cases, they are your target consumers. Who better to tell you if your content will convert them to buyers? It’s essential to invest in these enthusiasts. Instead of immediately asking them to start translation, pay them to spend some time with your web app, exploring it and its features. This will give them the context needed to provide better translations.
Web app localization is important because it might be the most significant part of your branded presence in a market. Using best practices built on preserving the brand voice and the user experience is the best method for reaching new consumers. With that, and the help of subject matter enthusiasts, you’ll improve your approach to any region.