3 Top Tips for Successfully Managing a Multilingual App Development Project

More and more app developers are looking to incorporate multilingual support in their apps since it allows them to reach a wider market. However, developing an app, albeit in just one language is complex enough. No matter what genre your app is be it gaming, education, or productivity- focused, creating a multilingual version of any app inevitably involves more work.  Translation alone and programming language presets to switch to different languages isn’t actually enough. If currently or planning to be a project manager that involves multilingual mobile app development, then this article is for you.

1. Understanding Key Factors in Your App Localization & Translation Process

All app development involves comprehensive research. This includes identifying your audience and target market, drafting goals, formulating the app’s functions, programming its features, and etc. However, when developing a multilingual app, you’ll have to add extra stages in your research process.

Right from the beginning, you’ll have to hire a translation company. Compare competitive rates between translation companies and examine their past projects to see if they fit your project’s specifications. But wait, you might be wondering if they could come in during the last stages of development. All they do is translate so no big deal right?

In reality, if you introduce them too late in the development stage, the project is at risk of undergoing too many changes that it’s better off to start from scratch. You don’t want that to happen as it is a waste of time and resources.

In the realm of global app development, translation companies are more involved in the industry than you might think. They do more than just provide app translation services when in fact, they also provide app localization services. App localization is a comprehensive process that involves optimizing your app’s content and features that is appropriate to your target market. A translation company will help you understand the following factors in app localization that is crucial to multilingual app development.

  1. Cultural Preferences – Understanding your target’s cultural preferences allows you to gain further insight on your target market that goes beyond user experience. Find out what can you incorporate on your app’s content that can make your target swoon and even fall in love with your app.
  2. Social Norms – You can consider this as an extension of cultural preferences but one that warrants its own category. You have to take into account any relevant social norms that might impact have an effect of your app’s content and features. In an extreme situation, committing a faux pas might unintentionally lead to your target market vehemently despising your app, along with the people and brand behind it.
  3. Color Schemes – There are many connotations tied to colors in different regions, as such—what do colors mean in other cultures?  Some cultures see yellow as a color that signifies wealth and optimism while in other cultures, it symbolizes jealousy and lewdness. Find out what should your app’s deal color scheme aesthetics; one that that will successfully resonate with your target market. Implement what you find and have it displayed in your app’s background, logo design, and other applicable files. 
  4. Digital Media – Other than localizing your digital media such as pictures and video, try to avoid adding too much embedded texts in your digital media. Not that it’s a bad thing itself, but rather it will complicate your app localization and translation process. It’s better to streamline this part of the process by utilizing universal pictograms instead. Instead of using text to explain an idea, illustrations are enough for everyone to understand whichever language they speak.
  5. Language – Although we talked about translation, this is just an extra pointer about the translation process. Even though languages groups consist of multiple dialects and vernacular, you don’t need to attend to these kinds of details in your app development process. Whichever your target market is, identify what is the predominant standard language used amongst its speakers and you can work from there.

One keynote to take into consideration during your localization process is transcreation. Transcreation is exactly what we talked about, molding your content that fits your target market, but transcreation also involves staying true to your content’s integrity. In simpler terms, try not to get too carried away into adapting your target market’s preferences so much, it derails the entire spirit of your app.

Recommended external article: What Colors Mean in Other Cultures

2. Planning for Delays in the App Localization & Translation Process

In your app localization and translation process, here’s a list of files you need to take into account; images, audio files, videos, graphics, illustrations, embedded texts, writing scripts (Latin alphabet, Russian alphabet, Asian characters, etc.), and app descriptions .Each file has varying levels of complexity to develop, meaning some are more difficult to deal with than the rest.

For example, it takes less effort and resources to translate text than to have a voice actor or a few to perform multiple audio recordings in different languages. Of course, you have the liberty to omit a few of these files in your translation process, but that depends on how much they impact your app’s overall functions and your target market’s user experience.

App development is complicated enough. That being said, incorporating multilingual features will add extra stages in your app development process as mentioned earlier. When you’re aiming for quality, try not to rush. It’s not advisable to put up deadlines that you and your team feels uncomfortable with, especially if it compromises your app’s quality and overall user experience.

Some project managers have the tendency to become almost authoritative and uncompromising when it comes to schedules. Although it’s important to set deadlines, try not to plan everything by the minute. That kind of approach is assuming that everything will go smoothly and everyone will do their job on time—the real world isn’t like that.

In the end, be sure make allowances in your schedule that takes into account delays and setbacks of any nature.  This is especially true when you’re coordinating with other companies. You’re not the only one with a busy schedule. Chances are that the people you’re working with have many things on their plate as well.

You also have to consider yourself and the team. If you and your team run into any emergencies, whether personal or workplace-related, then your schedule should ideally provide you with enough freedom to set you at ease. A productive workplace is a happy and enriching workplace, one that respects the fact that everyone is human and mistakes do happen.

3. Listening To Diverse Feedback During Your App’s Testing Phase

When deploying any kind of app, it has to go through phases of development which includes a testing phase before launch. Testing allows the team to look for debugging opportunities and ironing out any kinks that might impact app functionality, user experience, server load, and even app security. This phase in app development also presents you and your team the opportunity to listen to feedback from diverse sources.

Since we’re in the area of multilingual apps, it’s advisable to include native speakers as testers. Try to also involve native speakers who are also app developers and even people from your translation company as testers. They’ll be able to provide you nuanced feedback as to whether or not your app satisfies and even exceeds their expectations. In short, you’ll need all the feedback you can get to sufficiently refine your app for a successful launch.

Recommended external article: What Are The Various Phases Of Mobile App Development?

Conclusion

As a project manager, it’s understandable one can get overwhelmed by the comprehensiveness of app localization and translation. However, they’re inevitable in multilingual app development. That’s why time is your most valuable asset. Plan things ahead, get things done ahead of schedule, and don’t exert too much pressure on your team members—anything that might impact workplace productivity and harmony. Ultimately, managing an app development project is no different than any project management in whichever field and industry. Even if you hire the best app developers in the world along with the best consultants, there needs to be clear guidance to make sure everything is done well and everyone is better off in the end.

Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh, is the CEO of Tomedes, a global language service provider that has been helping clients with their translation and app localization needs. Tomedes is also committed to the management of thousands of projects for translators and language professionals all across the globe.

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