Mobile Throne of Apps: Don’t You Speak Valyrian?

There is an explosion in the number of mobile phones that people are wielding in every corner of the world. But, more exponentially, there is a never-before surge in the number and frequency with which apps on these devices are being consumed.Now look at something counter-intuitive to this growth: There is also a hard-to-miss dearth of high-quality localised apps in emerging markets from what we gather from a report from ArabNet. And you know the irony? This is holding back app adoption and usage!We are not talking about tribals or luddites but smartphone owners in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates and about 2,500 of them. The survey underlines that Arabic apps were facing download-resistance because 30% of respondents perceived them to be of not a good quality. Then there were 16% who seemed not so interested in downloading thanks to a bad experience with an app they had in the past. Now consider this: Even if 34% here indicated a preference for international apps, it was unlikely that they had the same level of relevant information and services as localised Arabic apps.Get the drift?Your app may be the slickest, smooth and super-human amidst a bunch of rivals in its home-ground or a major international market, but it will recoil and shrink to a mere “also-ran” if it fails to tailor itself to a local region, culture, market or language.

That, my friends, is what they call – Localisation. The good and bad news is – it can have a profound effect on the app’s ROI!If your app fails to support a given country, locale, language, or culture it will be staring at the wrong end of some numbers – Remember what Distimo (App Annie), a publisher of app data and statistics, revealed in a survey covering 200 apps “The Impact of App Translations”? Downloads can jump by 128%, and revenues can climb by 26% just a week after publishing an iPhone app in a new language! That should explain why in an experiment David Janner, Editor-in-Chief of MAKE APP Magazine, grabbed as many as 767 % more downloads when he ensured localising of app keywords.ROI happens easily when you take care of some fundamentals about localisation:1. Localisation should address every small and big constituent that can define a user experience and stickiness for the app. It can be data-time formats, currency, keyboard usage, form factor differences, symbols and corollary, optimisation of design, expressions that work there, other nuances and habits of usage that a new audience would incline towards, image localisation, details of user experience, and layout too. The directions and layout that work in English will not necessarily follow in other regions and languages. So pay attention to expansion-differences, form-factor used, spacing, left-to-right and right-to-left support as per a language, the vertical or horizontal dominance of alphabets and a host of other factors that affect text display and fluidity in a new language.2. Adequate and prudent internationalisation is the underpinning of effective localisation. Unless you make your code and design amenable from the very scratch for appropriate localisation wherever and whenever needed, this process will become quite complicated and chaotic. Internationalisation will allow your content to have discrete localizable elements from the very beginning. The code and language will also adapt readily to different regions and requirements swiftly and smoothly. A good translation tool and expertise can help you complement and even mitigate internationalisation effort and expense to a considerable extent.

3. Keep major platforms, like iOS and Android in mind before attempting major overhauls. Also look out for cross-platform app localisation. Resources and Data files that entail content, any complex set of data or graphical content outside of your code, images, tutorials, and other elements that accompany a program’s executable code should be externalised for easy localisation. Keep the default option open at all times as they are not marked with any language or locale qualifiers and can help in cases of exigencies and standard usage.4. Good translators will always work with a context in mind, and that is precisely what lends an ROI edge to an app. It should be tested in environments that will play out in case of real users. So cognisance of multiple devices, a variety of screen sizes, form factors, and issues like line wrapping, breaks in sentences and strings, inaccuracies in actual usage, untranslated texts and strings, incorrect layout etc. should be taken care of with apt testing and expert help.
The game is no more just about a great app, but about making it friendly and ready enough for any user, it wants to accost.
Speak the language they speak. Reap the ROI.