What can a translation company bring to your mobile app development process?
For a range of reasons, the relation that you have with your phone or your smart watch, is quite a bit deeper than the one you have with your laptop. Wearable and portable tech of all sorts is constantly there, constantly bleeping and notifying and generally getting involved in your life. And even more so than with a computer, the apps on it have to talk your language. If they’re not easy to use and give the right experience, they’re deleted and replaced in seconds.
And with the growth in the use and success of apps, there’s been a huge growth in the need to see them getting localised – (which to be honest just means translated, but making all the detailed changes for a particular country or “locale”, instead of just for a language).
But, it doesn’t take much thought to see the range of challenges that start to present themselves. There are growing numbers of people in ever further flung corners of the world wanting more apps, to do more stuff, on tiny screens of varying sizes – and all in their own language. But it’s not just their language
And if you don’t get your localisation right, your app is going to feel like it’s “not made for people like us” and probably stay on the shelf.
Here are a few things that we would really encourage you to think about from the very outset (and that a translation provider should help you with):
Space: This is relevant in anything you translate, but even more so when you only have a little space. Words can grow when translated. Or sometimes, a nice tidy single word just might not exist. So, it’s just worth being aware – don’t set your maximum field lengths based on the English, or you might get stuck further down the line.
Local knowledge is a MUST: It’s about so much more than just language. Just the basics; how do they display dates, how do they display numbers and decimals, units of measurement, currencies, what are the standard customs for greetings, do they understand a traffic light system, are there attitudes around gender or wealth that need consideration, regulatory standards, what animals are native to the country… some of these may seem silly, but get any one of them wrong and your app or your game will feel wrong.
Storing your strings: When you start developing, at square 1, think about all the strings you’re going to be creating. If you can store them sensibly and group them in a way that makes sense, you’ll make your life much easier when it comes to trying to translate (and amend) the app content.
Local testing post-development: Your translators will do the best job they can, but make sure you create the possibility to test the product once it’s all been put together in house. There’s no substitute for getting the chance to have a play around and fully testing (trying to break) something. This may highlight issues with the shortcuts, or the layouts that you might not have foreseen.
So the moral of the story, don’t rush, and don’t underestimate the importance of getting your localisation right. Apps are important to people, but users are fussy. Everything has to be just right and with more and more people relying on smart devices to do more and more, the rewards for getting it right are growing by the day.