Localization can significnatly increase your downloads by making your app available to a much larger audience. But the process can be intimidating. If you have never localized a Google Play Android app before, this post will give you the resources you will need to do your first localization.
The best time to think about localization is usually when the English version of your app is stable and you are ready to expand into other markets. Unless you have a very big team, adding localization too soon will over complicate the process.
An important decision that you will have to make when localizing your app is if you want to localize your app's name or not. Although localizing the name of your app would make it easier to understand, you may not want to lose the brand value of the English name.
Benjamin Zadik wrote a great post for us about when it is a good idea to translate the name of your app and when it isn't. After you read that post and you are still on the fence, you could always use both, if your app name is short enough.
There are many services out there that will help you translate your app into the language of your choice. Google also provides localization services within the Google Play Developer Console. The App Translation Service is easy to use and helps you centralize the localization process.
Google even provides a great Localization Checklist that app publishers can use to make sure that their app is ready to be launched in other countries. Here is a short summary of the points that they cover.
Identify target languages and locales - Keep in mind that not all the countries you want to target may be available to your app. Here is a handy list of the extent to which each country is supported. They recommend that you will usually get the best results in countries where English is not a widely used language.
Design for localization - Make sure that the assets in your app are easily localized (by creating templates) and that you account for the localization changes in the layout of your app.
Manage strings for localization - Instead of hard coding your strings, you should declare all of your strings as resources in the default strings.xml file.
Translate UI strings and other resources - Work with a professional translator to translate your strings. Never depend completely on machine translations.
Test your localized app - Setup a test environment and look for any localization issues. Review the app with native speakers to double check.
Prepare for international launch - Localize your Google Play listing and plan your beta release in your target countries. Then create your plan for international marketing, including: device art, play badges and check your optimization tips.
Support international users after launch - Be sure that you are able to support the languages you have localized for. Check your reviews regularly to make sure that everything is going as expected.
If you are still not convinced that localization can help your app grow, these case studies will demonstrate the value of localization. One app reported that they saw a 120% increase in downloads, immediately after localizing their app for 13 addition countries.
You now have all the information you need to localize your first app. It can be a long process, but if you don't have a lot of assets to localize, it may be easier than you think. It can certainly pay off with more downloads, revenue and brand exposure.
What are some other issues that you are facing with Google Play localization? Share your experience in the comments below...