Business Translation Center

App translation – where to begin

by OFER TIROSH 13/03/2019

Launching an app is an exciting venture and the culmination of months (if not years) of hard work. Having put so much time and effort into their product, many app developers turn to translation services in order to maximise their returns. Professional app translation has boomed over the past decade or so, and continues to be a specialist area of translation that is highly sought after by clients around the world. 

Launching a multilingual app – finding the right translation agency 

The first stage of launching a multilingual app is to find the right translation agency. If you’ve never used an app translator before, be sure to grill the agency in question on their experience and asked to see an example of their work on another app. As apps are so easy to download, this should be a simple request for them to fulfil. 

If you’re looking to achieve perfect app translation in several languages, using an agency is likely to be much simpler than recruiting several freelancers yourself. By working with a translation company, you only have to explain yourself to one point of contact – the company then liaises with the translators. If you hire translators directly instead, liaising with each of them over the translation may end up being quite a significant drain on your time, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to focus on the other elements of launching a product in more than one language and/or country at once. 

The app translation process 

To prepare your app for translation, you will need to separate the text strings, video, audio, images, etc. from the code. You can then hand all of these over to your translator, so that they can work on the translation without needing your source code. It’s a way of simplifying the translation process and means that it’s easier to work with translators for multiple languages at the same time, as all you can use the same resources file for each translator. 

As part of the translation process (preferably before it begins, in fact) you will need to consider whether you want to globalize or localize your app. Globalizing an app means making it suitable for as wide an audience as possible. This might mean removing idioms from the text or thinking about the imagery that you use and how different audiences are likely to receive it. Localizing an app, meanwhile, means focusing it on a specific audience, perhaps by replacing idioms in the source language with similar ones in the target language. 

In all likelihood, a combination of both globalization and localization might work best. This means firstly reducing the number of elements that need to be adjusted for foreign audiences, then focusing carefully on the ones that remain to ensure that they suit each culture to which the app will be presented. Experienced language professionals will be able to help with both of these tasks, so be sure to talk this through when you brief your translation agency about your app and what you require. 

Finally, remember that there are likely to be queries during the translation process. How quickly you respond to these can have a big impact on how fast the translator can deliver the final app translation. Whether it’s a choice of phrasing or the way that the translator has interpreted something, there is often a need for clarification. As such, working closely with your translation company can reap big rewards, resulting in a faster translation and a smoother process overall. 

Final thoughts

App translation doesn’t have to be difficult. You can launch your app with confidence to foreign audiences by actioning the points above. So what are you waiting for?