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Translating Your App to Make It Accessible to International Users: An Essential Guide

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Translating Your App to Make It Accessible to International Users: An Essential Guide

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We instinctively use local language or English when developing an app for obvious reasons. If the app is intended for a local market, using the native language is a great way to ensure high user engagement. On the other hand, using English makes the app more universal and allows for the app to be marketed to international users.

To further expand the reach of the app, however, translating it to native languages of the markets you target is a step that needs to be considered. Translating the app doesn’t just make it more appealing to users in different areas, but also more engaging for a wider audience. Before you start translating your app to make it accessible to international users, here are a few things you need to know first.

Start with a Template

The best way to add multiple languages to an app is by using a robust templating system. The text within the app may be translated, but the overall user experience and UI elements need to be consistent, especially if you want to app to have a strong brand presence.

The Airbnb app is a good example. The app can be used in multiple languages, but the entire UX of the app remains consistent. Yes, there are content elements that are also changed when users switch to another language, but the menu, the layout, and other UX elements remain consistent.


That brings us to the next tip: localize. When possible, go beyond translating the text within the app. You can use localized visuals, add local promotional banners and offers, and even tailor some parts of the user experience to cater to the local audience.

These are extra steps that need to be planned from the beginning, but they are certainly extra steps worth taking. You can definitely build a better relationship with local users when they get that personalized, highly localized sense when using the app.

Use Strings and Translations

Hardcoding translations is never – and we do mean NEVER – the way to go. What you want is a series of translation strings to be embedded into the app. This way, you can add new languages and refine the translations without having to alter the entire app.

It is even better if the translation is loaded on the fly. Automatic translation is far from perfect at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you cannot use translation files stored in the cloud to make updating copywrites and translations easier.

Make It Clear

Switching between translations needs to be an easy process. You can either track a user’s location and use the geolocation data for selecting a suitable language, or provide users with an easy way to change languages on the fly.

A button is usually the more straightforward way. Another way to tackle this is by adding Language to the app settings for users to choose. It is even better if you integrate translation as a native feature since it means you can have the app display the language selected in the operating system.

Test Extensively

The last thing you want is a multilingual app with a broken translation feature. Translation needs to be a feature that goes through functional testing; bear in mind that it is also a common bug, simply because testing translation isn’t a priority for most development teams.

You can outsource translation testing – and other manual testing tasks – completely. Global App Testing has manual testing options that can help you tackle this type of testing. This provider can help test your translation features comprehensively.

Remember the Preference

Another issue that must be avoided – but gets neglected quite often – is forgetting a user’s language preference. The app needs to display user-selected language every time. Even when you have to ask users to select a preferred language, the process must only happen once.

Failure to remember a user’s preferences will turn the translation feature into a nuisance, if not a complete annoyance. Users don’t want to see the Choose a Region popup appearing every time they restart the app, so don’t make them go through the horrible experience.

Refine Your Translations

You also need to invest in good translations of the app. Enlist the help of experienced translators so that the app also includes local terms, jargon, and words that sound familiar to the users rather than a cold translation of everything.

Some terms require personalized translation too. On top of that, you have to account for more words when UI copies are translated. What’s short in English is not always short in other languages, and you need to leave enough space to account for that difference in length.

As long as you keep these tips in mind, translating your app to another language should not be a big challenge. With the help of native translators, a well-designed app, and good UX, adding translations to your app will make it more popular among local users.

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