Best Practices

What is Application Localization? Mobile vs. Web Projects

Both web and mobile application localization have become increasingly necessary as mobile device use has skyrocketed over the years.
Gabriel Fairman
2 min
Table of Contents

Both web and mobile application localization have become increasingly necessary as mobile device use has skyrocketed over the years. For instance, 68% of website views were from mobile devices in 2020 as opposed to desktops. Web and mobile applications are the most popular sources of consumer interaction for most companies. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the different challenges of localizing both, providing a better user experience and first impression for successful entry into new markets.  

What is Application Localization?

Application localization refers to adapting content on a web server or mobile app by translating content and ensuring it meets the standards for a specific targeted region. This process includes reviewing symbols, graphics, phrases, color schemes, etc., guaranteeing they won’t be viewed as inappropriate or offensive in the culture for which you’re adapting your content. In most settings, like the mobile app, the webserver content will also be viewed on a mobile device, but there are distinct differences between the two localization processes.

Mobile Application Localization

Mobile app localization typically involves less content than web apps, so it’s less expensive. The content is also released on iOS or Android operating systems on the Apple App Store or GooglePlay. Localization processes are relatively standardized across companies, and the engineered files are all typically .xml files. The biggest challenges for mobile app localization are simplifying the content to fit a mobile user interface (UI) while maintaining the integrity of the translated content and creating an enjoyable user experience (UX) for consumers. Reducing the content to fit the mobile app UI increases the sensitivity of the content. It becomes even more crucial to use words and phrases that users understand because there is less context.Mobile app localization requires budgeting more money and time into post-build testing and review processes. Although Android has emulators for testing, iOS does not, and it needs the app to be built and tested by users. This step is a critical component because mobile app success is based more on app usability and likability than translation accuracy. The market is saturated with mobile apps, so if consumers don’t enjoy one, they can simply delete it and find another.  

Web Application Localization

Web apps allow for much more content than mobile apps, which lowers the sensitivity associated with choosing easily understood content. This amount of content translation does typically make web apps localization much more expensive. Consumers also normally accept a web app’s UI easier than a mobile app, meaning the main focus for web app localization should revolve around translation accuracy and file engineering. Because web apps run on web servers, they aren’t bound to the same operating systems as mobile apps, making the localization process a lot less standardized. Web apps require longer translation strings because of the increased content. The string export file extensions can include .xml, .xliff, .yaml, .csv, etc. An extensive amount of file engineering can be required to ensure translated content integrates properly and the UX isn’t affected by technical errors. Web apps require less focus on post-build testing because testing processes can be implemented during the building process.  Understanding the differences between the two apps can keep you from oversimplifying or underestimating the localization process.  



  • Low to medium expense
  • More standardized file engineering
  • Post-build testing is crucial for resolving errors
  • Low number of strings
  • High content sensitivity
  • Low linguistic contextualization
  • Limited to GooglePlay and Apple AppStore
  • Higher user acceptance threshold
  • Medium to high expense
  • Tailored file engineering strategies
  • Post-build testing is done as validation of previous testing
  • High number of strings
  • Low content sensitivity
  • High linguistic contextualization
  • Potentially unlimited locale support
  • Lower user acceptance threshold

Managing Application Localization Challenges

Even though the challenges associated with web and mobile app localization are different, the end goal is to create a satisfying user experience and product leader in new markets. An easier way to tackle either localization effort is to have a successful localization management platform as your partner. A strong platform can focus on translation, engineering accuracy, usability, and product testing to help you succeed with web and mobile app localization. Working with someone that understands the best practices for both, implementing them in a way that allows your brand voice to resonate with new consumers, will help ease the strain of application localization.  Bureau Works is a comprehensive platform that can simplify web and mobile app localization projects and help you reach your end goal for new market entry. Contact our team to learn more about our services.

Gabriel Fairman
Founder and CEO of Bureau Works, Gabriel Fairman is the father of three and a technologist at heart. Raised in a family that spoke three languages and having picked up another three over the course of his life, he's fascinated by the role of language in shaping identity. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Gabriel was honored with the 2023 Innovator of the Year Award at LocWorld Silicon Valley. He enjoys cooking, playing the guitar, and leading teams toward innovation.
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