Mobile apps are no longer the way of the future – they are the way right now. Smart companies are noticing the ever-growing mobile markets worldwide and are coming up with strategies to reach these markets with localized apps. Up and coming companies can get ahead of the pack by thinking strategically about the very best ways to increase adoption of their applications among citizens all over the globe.
What’s the secret? Intelligently localized mobile apps – apps that reach and can be used by people in growing target markets, like Asia, and Africa – which the Wall Street Journal reported last November as the world’s fastest growing mobile market. While there are many, many things to keep in mind when localizing mobile application software, there are a handful of key challenges and opportunities to focus on for the best rate of adoption and overall impact.
Key #1: Tackle Your Multilingual (Language) Challenges
This key is two-fold: Firstly, it’s crucial to have your content properly written in the appropriate language(s) for the region and tested among locals. Depending on the nature of your application, you need to determine how language is used in that context as well as how other successful mobile applications are using language in that market.
Secondly, you’ll need to understand how different platforms support multilingual applications, which local carriers work with the platforms, and put together an effective roll-out/deployment strategy for mobile app localization.
Key #2: Create a Rigorous Testing Plan
Like any other major software development understanding, creating a localized mobile application for one or more individual global markets is going to require a strong testing effort in order to be successful. There are companies that specialize in the testing of mobile applications, but it is critical to identify one (or come up with your own solid strategy) that can effectively test adoption, communication, and usage among the target market locally.
Companies that offer mobile application testing include Mobile Labs, Inc., Usability Sciences, XBO Soft, and Capgemini, just to name a few. Do your due diligence and plan accordingly for rigorous testing, defect fixing, and deployment.
Key #3: Develop Local Content that Works
Even if your mobile app delivers wonderfully accurate language and works well technically, if you have not embraced the art of cultural relevancy, your mobile app will suffer as it will not be accepted and adopted by your target market. One suggestion is to develop user acceptance testing as well as focus groups to help hone and shape your content so that it appeals to and makes sense to local users. In fact, this step should probably be completed before any work on the app is done at all; it’s crucial to know for sure whether your app is going to be relevant and desirable among a particular local market. Your app should be designed out of a demonstrated desire or need among the local users where they live.
Key #4: Consider Space Limitations
This will be fleshed out in testing, but it impacts both the language as well as the possible use of images and icons in place of test. Many languages of the world require more space than English language requires, so depending on where your mobile app will be deployed, it’s quite possible that you will need more space to say the same thing that you would say in English.
UI designers and language specialists should work together to come up with the best way to display data, and you should consider the usage of visual images and icons to represent words when space is limited. But first, understand which images and icons would work best and rely heavily on focus groups and user acceptance testing.
Key #5: Research Mobile Application Trends In Your Target Market
When it comes to localization, you will at the very least want to be first among equals. This means that you want to first fit in, and then be even better. In order to fit in, you need to research and understand the regional mobile app trends in your target market. Ask the hard questions about what makes certain applications more popular than others. Good business analysis will help bring out the cultural implications in the trends and will show you the path to getting the adoption rate that you ultimately will need for your app to be considered a success.
Together, these keys create the foundation of a successful mobile app localization strategy. You cannot pick and choose which to implement; all keys – and more – are required in a venture of this nature. Global mobile apps are the wave of the future as well as today’s hot trend. What other localization tips do you feel are critical to success?
This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a company that specializes in a productivity to do list application for businesses and individuals, and who also consults for a printing company that offers a variety of smartpress options.