The number of languages to address most of the global internet population increases steadily. The average number of languages has more than doubled since 2005.

  • 12 languages in 2004,
  • 23 languages in 2010,
  • 29 languages in 2013, and
  • 33 languages by 2020.

Businesses have realized the necessity and importance of localization. However, startups are still inhibited by high localization costs. That's why we came up with these 5 money-saving mobile app translation tips for startups to localize on a tight budget. Need more information?

Read more: Localization best practices

#1 Plan as much and detailed as you can

As every project, your localization project starts with planning. A clear plan helps you to achieve your internationalization goals. Identify the scope of your localization process to determine your localization budget. Calculate the number of words in your mobile application (source language) and multiply it by the number of languages you plan to translate (target languages). Typically the number of words in your source language will be somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 words.

Your localization budget will depend a lot on the kind of translations. Professional translators will work out high-quality translations for your texts, but they can be expensive too. Startups may opt for essential translations, usually carried out by junior translators or recent graduates. If you do so, be aware of the main differences:

Professional TranslationsBasic Translations
Translator's skillssenior translatorjunior translator
Expected qualityhighlow
Cost per word$0.14 to $0.25$0.06 to $0.10
Recommended forapp or web UI localization, reports, presentations, legal and technical documentsproduct descriptions, marketing messages, user-generated content, customer service emails

#2 Think of localization early

Internationalizing is necessary to prepare your mobile app for localization. This term describes extracting texts and placing them in so-called resource files which will be used for localization. Translations are stored in separate files where the language code (ISO code) is included in the file name. Including internationalization from the very beginning in app development will avoid additional work afterward and speed up your localization process.

#3 Find high-potential markets/languages

You have great tools at your fingertips which provide you with comprehensive data. Use all accessible data to determine where your customer comes from and track user behavior. Combining data from various sources will help you to analyze market potential. Identify high-potential markets and exclude those too difficult to penetrate (due to legal restrictions and high competition). Read our article about creating the localization strategy to understand which questions you should reply to yourself to get a comprehensive overview of the new market.

Tools like the Google Global Market Finder, Keyword Planner, and Google Trends greatly assist in accessing market data and identifying trends in different regions. Be aware that Google is not the preferred search engine in any country (especially in the Eastern world). To get more information about different regions' particularities, read the related articles and follow us on Twitter to not miss the new county overview:

#4 Test new languages and markets

If, after previous steps, you're not sure which countries are best to target or where to start with localization, there's a pretty easy and cost-efficient way to determine the direction. Localize your mobile application's product page in the app stores - name (the title), description, and metadata for a specific language or country.

It's less expensive and requires less effort than translating the entire mobile app. Descriptions usually make up between 300 and 400 words, so translations for each language will cost approximately $ 50 to $ 80. The number of downloads, ratings, and other key metrics will help you determine whether you shall opt for this language/country.

#5 Identify translation tools

Choosing the right translation management system can avoid various expenses during localization. Lingohub was created to simplify product adaptation to new markets, and we are continuously improving our product to provide an even better customer experience. To get more information about all our tools - visit the feature overview page. Here we will describe the most relevant thing that simplifies mobile app localization.

  • Repository and application integration. A smooth connection with GitHub, Gitlab, Azure, etc., is the first step to saving the budget by avoiding manual tasks for the developers. In this paragraph, we can't forget about the Figma plugin for fast design translation without manual text copy/paste.

  • Mobile SDK with OTA. To update the application, you do not need to rerelease the app in the stores again. Rum multiplies products on multiple platforms and push the changes easily.

  • Quality checks. Incorrect files with missed placeholders or tags, text duplication, etc. - is a non perfect reality of the localization process. Human mistakes will always be, no matter how professional the employees are; avoiding them will save the entire team time. Lingohub provides a quality check feature to review the translation to the predetermined criteria.

  • Convert between iOS and Android. You do not need to create separate projects inside Lingohub for both systems. Create one project and export the translated files in the other format - as easy as apple pie.

  • Prefill. Pretranslate the text in one second. All your uploaded text could be translated by machine translation, translation memory, or existing language data. The translating team wouldn't start from scratch, which will save you time and costs for you.

  • Last but not least. With Lingohub, you always pay only for the work which was done. The system automatically counts translators' efforts and calculates, based on it, the final cost of the work (so if there weren't any changes in the segment after the prefill - you pay the agreed price). You set up the price for different effort levels and can create a transparent contract for you and the team in the Lingohub interface.

Sum up

Mobile app localization can be released with different budgets. All you need to do is prepare the correct direction(strategy) and find the translation management system to close your needs.

The Lingohub team is always ready to show you all the abilities on a quick demo call and provide the answers to your questions - we have been helping businesses grow and expand the world for more than a decade. If you prefer to try it yourself - sign up for your free Lingohub trial (no credit card required.)

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