How to Translate for Mobile and Achieve Conversion

How to Translate for Mobile and Achieve Conversion

Young attractive woman with a smartphone over the background with a different world languages (language school concept)If you’re considering a move to global markets or just aren’t seeing the sales numbers you want overseas, it’s time to consider mobile translation. Getting it right in this burgeoning market is becoming a non-negotiable, especially since business-to-consumer (B2C) mobile commerce will top $50 billion in 2014 alone, according to Marketing Land.

However, there’s a catch. Words alone aren’t enough to capture consumer interest, especially on devices with limited screen space. The following are three tips for taking your mobile translation to the next level:

1. Think Big

Text isn’t a finite size. Users can make text bigger or smaller on their devices, and some languages simply require more words to get the same point across. As a result, your mobile app needs room to grow. This means leaving space around blocks of text for expansion during the conversion process. How much expansion? Depends on the language. English-to-German requires 30 percent more space for text, while English-to-Finnish requires up to 60 percent more. It’s also important to remember that not all languages read left-to-right—Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian all read right-to-left. The bottom line is that words are not enough on their own. If a translation is accurate but not formatted correctly and takes up too much space on users’ screens, they won’t bother with your app.

2. Appropriate Pictures

It’s not just text, but image translation is also important. Are they culturally and politically appropriate? Anything from hand gestures and maps to images of men and women can be completely innocuous in one country and offensive in another. Seeing both words and images at the same time will allow translators to catch any potential issues and ensure pictures don’t overshadow the impact of your text.

3. Circumstantial Content

If the only text in your app was the blurb on the landing page and a quick note at the checkout, translation would be easy. However, app translation also needs to cover any other kind of content that a user might encounter. This includes error messages during a purchase – for example, if an item isn’t in stock or can’t ship to a location, or if the app fails. It also covers pop-ups such as coupons, discounts, or product details that open in a new tab or window. And you wouldn’t want to leave out account settings and support content either. Simply put, there is a massive amount of content that users can only see in very specific circumstances that cannot be forgotten during the translation process.

Nearly 60 percent of adults in the United States have smartphones, according to Pew Research. Data from Nielsen, meanwhile, puts this number at 71 percent in China and 87 percent in Hong Kong. The result is a massive market for you to tap with B2C app translation.

Image source: Bigstock

Localizing Your Mobile App


About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is a freelance technology writer with a passion for telling great stories about unique brands. For the past five years, he's covered everything from cloud computing to home automation and IT security. He speaks some French, is fluent in Ancient Greek and a master of Canadian English — and yes, colour needs a 'u'.


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