How to prepare an app for localization

According to researchers’ predictions, interest in mobile apps will keep growing steadily. And if you are planning to conquer the world with your app, now is the best time to start!

Once you have decided to go for more than one market, it is better to think about app localization in advance. And if you do not know where the localization process begins, this article will be right on target.

Look forward

First things first. You need to figure out which languages you need to localize your app into. According to many cases and research, users prefer apps translated into their native languages. It makes sense: when we use something, we want it to be easy. Nobody likes to puzzle over translations. 

Mind your budget, analyze, check all the available statistics to understand which markets to take first and what the people there need. The competition differs from region to region, and it may be worth entering several smaller markets first instead of one big one. With time, you will understand your users better and add new features to your mobile app. These will facilitate your entry into new and bigger markets and reduce the risk of failure.


Get acquainted with your users, who they are, how old they are, whether they are male or female, what their social status is. The more information you have, the easier it will be to choose a localization team and localize correctly. You will certainly have a mix of everything; but that is why you need to think over what your target is and who is interested in your product. This will also help you to choose the right paid features, whether it be subscription, paid services, no ads features, etc. You may even come up with the idea that partial localization is enough, if you want to test out a hypothesis, say.

You may also want to check how your competitors localize their products. Competitive research proves to be useful not only on the technical side of mobile app development but also on the app marketing and product growth side.

Prepare a glossary

Make up a list of terms you use in the app, and when it is time to localize it, hand it over to the team. You will need a glossary for each language; and do not forget to update it regularly to avoid any inconsistency when you switch translators. You can include names, critical actions, currency, units of measurement, etc.

Actually, it would be awesome to prepare a style guide as well. It will define your tone of voice and how the app will look in terms of the content: you can include capitalization rules, punctuation, and stylistic usage.

Find your team

Nowadays, in the era of technology, we have a lot of robots, systems, and devices that can easily substitute for people. But with translation and localization, it is still only an expert who can do a decent job. In the ideal picture, it should be a person who was born and raised in the country you are trying to enter. Do not hire people who offer to translate into all the languages of the world: unfortunately, localization is a little bit more complicated than just simple translation. This is because it is essential to know all the in-jokes, traditions, even what each color means in the culture. If you do not consider this, it may lead to jokes about your app or brand, or even bad connotations. 

Mind language differences

Different languages have different lengths. If you develop an app in English, bear in mind that if you go to the Chinese market, the buttons and text boxes should be smaller but taller, and if you go, for example, to Germany, they should be longer. Probably you will need to adjust your app for a “standard” screen because what looks good for one, will look odd on the other one. And if you do not pay attention to this, you will get an unreadable and non-user-friendly app. Besides, do not forget that there are left-to-right and right-to-left writing systems, so the whole algorithm should be able to cope.

Think about quality measurement

When the localization is done, it would be great to evaluate if it is successful. You can gather a group of independent unbiased native-speaking reviewers to get their opinion, or take a dozen screenshots to get comments at least for the main languages.

Final thought

User experience is a fragile thing: it consists of millions of parts, and just one mistake can spoil it. Bear these tips in mind from the moment you start having an idea for a product until you finish developing it: this will help you avoid the most common mistakes, and it will save you money too. Enjoy your mobile app, and let people all over the world enjoy it as well!