Best Practices for Translating App Content

Best Practices for Translating App Content

Mobile devices, wireless communication technology and internet web concept: business laptop or office notebook, tablet computer PC and modern black glossy touchscreen smartphones with colorful application interfaces isolated on white backgroundWhat are the best practices for translating app content? If you have a mobile app, you will need to translate it at some point to reach a wider audience. Research shows that 12 languages account for 80 percent of the global online population, while English, Spanish, and Chinese cover more than 50 percent of the online population.

Because of this, app translation is a must—but don’t just jump in. If you’re using a translation software platform, there are several issues to consider before you start the translation process. In this undertaking, preparation is the key to success.

Getting Started

One of the most important preparatory steps is working out how to organize the app content you already have. In most cases, there are two main areas that have to be translated: the functionality within the app, which is mostly code, and the content that feeds the app. The former is more important for the app to run, while the latter provides a good user experience. You must decide which one is more important to you.

Let’s talk code. One best practice recommendation when translating an app is to separate content from the code because the underlying code will often be written in a coding language and may not require much translation. However, you need to understand where the code pulls in content that needs to be translated.

Related to that, a key step when translating app content is selecting the parts of the user interface that need to be translated for people to use your app properly. Mobile app users want to access menus, settings, button labels, and navigation elements in their own language. Translation may also affect user interface elements—buttons, menus, and tap zones may need to be resized to accommodate longer text in different languages.

Translation for Localization

App localization is also key. You need to ensure you adjust the display of measurements, currency, and times to meet local norms, since these often vary among countries, regions, and language groups. It is also important to translate maps and directions.

Turning to the content, there are several issues that arise when translating apps. First, think about content pulled into the app from an external source, such as a news reading app. In order to ensure a consistent user experience, you may need to translate that content, too. Then, there is user-generated content, which can vary from creating tags for saved content to making detailed notes. Consider whether your mobile app will be able to accept user-generated content in any language and how this will work both within the app and with related apps. It is wise to plan ahead and translate some common words and phrases in your main target languages so you can pre-populate your app with these.

Visual Translation

Context is an important aspect of translating app content. Depending on the function, different words may be used in different circumstances—you need to be aware of this when undertaking app translation. For example, think of the word “home.” Your translation will vary depending on whether you are talking about a house, an address, or the main page of a website. This is why you need to ensure your translation software can take into account contextual issues to make sure users have a positive experience with your mobile app.

For best results with app translation, use a translation software platform that connects you with real translators and a translation memory database so elements of your app can be translated quickly and efficiently. Ideally, translators will work with your developers and other app creators so that your translated app matches the quality and functionality of the app you started with. Learn more about the benefits of mobile app translation for your business.

Image source: Bigstock

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About Sharon Hurley Hall

Self-confessed word nerd Sharon Hurley Hall has the perfect job - as a professional writer and blogger. In the last couple of decades she has worked as a journalist, a college professor (teaching journalism, of course), an editor and a ghostwriter. She finds language fascinating and, in addition to English, speaks French, Spanish and a smattering of German.


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