1, 2, 3 Localize!

Business insights
Posted by Athena Parthenos

I believe deeply in the saying “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and I also like to think that it’s best if the step you take is in the right direction. For this reason, it is important to keep in mind that although the journey is what will take you somewhere, preparing well is extremely important too. In a very similar way, to sell your app internationally you need to start translating; however, planning a strategy beforehand will help you save money and achieve amazing results. In the blog post published last week, we discussed the reasons why it is good to localize an app and sell it in different international markets. This week, I would like to look a little bit closer at what to do when you are ready to translate and why it is best to seek the help of a localization company for both the planning and execution phases.

  1. Think simple and look far ahead. When you develop an app, don’t limit yourself—think beyond your immediate need to release it in your local market and lay the base for when you will translate it. Structuring your app so it will fit different languages and cultures is called internationalization (i18n). During this phase, you will have to make sure that no matter which language you choose for your new release, your app will sound natural. For this reason, take into considerations the following aspects:
    1. Don’t hard code your strings: Once you start localizing, you will need to export, translate, and import. If you don’t hard code but instead save your strings in strings.xml files, you will be able to easily manage these steps.
    2. Different languages need difference space: If you develop in English, make sure your layout has a generous amount of space for UI so that everything will fit fine in other languages. Don’t forget about languages that are written right to left; you might need to integrate a system for that type of layout too.
    3. Be politely straightforward: Smartphones and tablets don’t give you much room for writing, so you need to be concise but clear in what you write. The user will need to know what you are talking about, and your translator needs to express the same concept within the same limited space. If you take into consideration that many languages take up more space than English, longer sentences might cause a problem.
    4. Use standard formats: More often than not, you will have to deal with different formats for times, dates, numbers, and currencies. The best way to avoid any kind of complication or extra work is to use standard formats rather than local.
  2. Localization needs to be done by experts. Once you structure your app to handle different languages, it is time to translate. If you haven’t referred to a localization agency in the previous phase—and I strongly encourage you to do so—this is definitely the time to ask for help. I18n experts handle these kind of tasks on a daily basis, and aside from managing your translations over time, they will give you advice on how to prepare your content. You might think that it is more convenient and cheaper to use an internal resource for the localization steps (if one is available), but this isn’t exactly true. Although getting the job done internally might give you the impression of saving money initially, later on you could find yourself spending extra money to fix linguistic and other issues that bring expenses higher than what a localization agency would have cost in the first place. Here’s why:
  1. The language used needs to be grammatically correct and current: There are many people that can speak (at least to a certain extent) a second language, but this doesn’t make them a translator. When you are translating content with high visibility, it is a good practice to have a full TEP service to make sure that all standards are in place: grammar, language structure, and terminology. The process is then completed when an in-country reviewer confirms that the language is current, ensuring that there is no “back in the day” terminology, that the translation has a natural feeling as if it wasn’t translated at all, and that the content is appropriate for the end user.
  2. You don’t have to divide your team between translating and developing: You don’t have to halt your new release in order to wait for translations to finish. Translating an app is a constant process. Localization agencies have software and management systems that will retain your translations and facilitate updating your content. Therefore, not only will you be able to concentrate on developing phases while others translate, but you will also shorten your waiting time and save money on the updating processes.
  3. Agencies like Athena Parthenos have been doing this for a long time and know exactly what common issues, general mistakes, and language requirements to expect. If you refer to the right company, they will guide you through the standard processes, keeping an eye on your specific needs, and will create a tailor-made project/workflow that integrates your needs and terminology and respects the uniqueness of your product.
  4. I18n experts have the right resources to handle all steps and perform them at the same time. Athena Parthenos, for example, centrally coordinates all the translation teams, assigns you a managing team that will be your unique interface to make sure that the project is handled as if you did it directly, and uses its translation management system to keep track of the performed translations, update strings, and manage terminology.

Of course, you will have to consider the pros and cons when deciding if it is best to keep the job internally or assign it to external resources, but consider all the reasons listed above and remember that these are just the minimum requirements when deciding to go international. Once you take steps toward that direction, you might find a lot of things to handle, and you could potentially feel overwhelmed. So why complicate things when you can make them easier? Follow my advice and refer to an expert from some insight. How do you choose the right professional among the many out there? Quality, expertise, and availability to me are the minimum requirements—and they’re also what all other companies will offer you. What Athena Parthenos can give you is also an amazing team with the personality to help you show the rest of the world how original you are!

You think I’m lying? Reach out to me and see for yourself!

Written by Noemi Clark, CEO at Athena Parthenos

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