How To Create A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) When Localizing An iOS App

Learn how to create a minimum viable product (MVP) that you can test in foreign App Stores, without breaking the bank.

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Making your iOS app available in other countries can increase your downloads by 200% or more. But you may be a little reluctant to localize your app because of the time and money that is involved.

This post will show you how to create a minimum viable product that you can test in other countries. If your test is successful, then you can move forward with a complete localization of your app. If things don't work out, then you kept your cost low.

We will also show you how to get started on a really tight budget. Once you have some revenue coming in, then we will also provide some resources for getting professional translation services. There are also some potential issues with using this method, so we will show you how to handle them.

Concentrate Only On Metadata

The key is to focus only on translating metatdata. You don't have to localize your whole app, just localize it enough for people to find it in search and get them to download it.

Depending on your resources, you can localize all or part of your metadata. If you need to decide on the most important parts to localize, here is how you should prioritize them.


If you only localize only one thing, you should translate your keywords. Doing this will allow you to show up in foreign App Store searches, which is the most important thing in this MVP test.

Our Keyword Translation module is a great place to start with keyword translation. It uses Google Translate to translate all of your keywords with one click.

The Keyword Translation module also shows you how many characters you have left in your keyword field. Apple allows 100 characters in any language, so localization can also help you get more keywords in languages like Chinese. Where one word in English or German might take up 10 characters, you might only need two or three in Chinese or Japanese.

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Since your app description doesn't play a huge role in ASO on the App Store, you don't have to translate it. However, if your screenshots and title aren't localized, then people will rely more heavily on your description to find out what your app is about.

If you aren't going to translate your title and screenshots, then you should definitely localize your description. It will take the most time, but it can go a long way to ensuring that you have an accurate test.


You may not want to localize your app title, but since it plays such a big role in keyword rankings, you should at least consider it. If you are wondering if you should localize your app title, this post will give you clear guidelines as to when it is a good idea.


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If you want to go a little further with your test, then you can also localize your screenshots. By keeping a template for each screenshot, you can easily change the wording for each language.

Check out what other apps are doing when it comes to screenshots. Many top apps change their screenshots on their second round of localization. It all comes down to having the language and graphic resources at your disposal.

Our Update Timeline tracks localized screenshot changes. So if you are an Enterprise customer, be sure to track your competitors.

Possible Issues

There are obviously some issues with this. If people think that your app is in their language and it is not, then you might get some bad reviews. The way to deal with this is to test your localized metadata only for a limited period of time.

Remember that iOS ratings are accumulated by individual country. So the ratings in your test country won't hurt your US ratings.

Also keep in mind that nothing will replace the language knowledge of a native speaker. However, if you are on a budget and don't have access to a professional translator native speaker, then you can get by with low cost solutions in the beginning. Just realize that this may not give you the most accurate translations.

Localization On A Budget

Using machine translations is a good place to start. You can also use outsourced workers on Fiverr to get the job done for cheap.

When you do this, try to have a second line of verification because machine translation and people working for $5 per job may not understand the nuances of the language. If you can find a friend that speaks the language and would be willing to look over your budget translation, that would be the ideal scenario.

If you have more money to spend, then you can check out our translation services resource post.

You Never Know Where Your App Might Get Popular

Targeting the US market is a very good start when launching your app. But you might be missing out on a significant number of downloads from another country. This is why it is important to create a MVP to test out other markets.

Gili Golander, co-founder of the Bazaart app, mentions that soon after launching in the US, they decided to expand to Russia. Her co-founders spoke Russian, so translating the app metadata didn't take long and cost them $0. Russia ended up contributing 21% to their overall downloads.

So be sure to test out at least a few of the biggest markets. Here is a list of the top 10 largest App Store countries.

  • Australia

  • Canada

  • China

  • France

  • Germany

  • Great Britain

  • Italy

  • South Korea

  • Russia

  • US


Assuming that your app is not country specific, localization can be a great way to dramatically increase your downloads. But it doesn't have to be a huge undertaking. Starting with your metadata will give you a minimum viable product that you can take to market and get some real world feedback.

Do you have any other good tips for taking an app international? Let us know in the comments below...

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Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: October 2014