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Globalization and Localization: Mobile Applications

A marketing strategy that includes mobile applications has become one of the most important ways to target the worldwide market, as millions of people subscribe to mobile services globally.  Implementing an ecommerce strategy, is no longer enough to guarantee customers unless mobile applications are a part of the approach. The technical and security aspects of mobile applications are vital, but so is localizing the mobile app in order to provide a user-friendly service to customers around the world.

Mobile Services Translation Best Practices

The best practice to provide a global mobile application or service is to take into consideration the globalization factors during the design phase. In order to have a global mobile service, the following items are important to achieve during the early steps of the designing and developing processes:

Mobile Services Globalization Checklist
  • Separate all of the content from the service programming code.
  • All culture dependent factors that vary from region to region are dynamically handled to accurately reflect the different aspects of cultures. For example, no static images specific to a certain culture that cannot be easily changed later.
  • Create mobile service templates that are able to handle right to left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.
  • Mobile services must be able to display characters of any language correctly.
  • For ecommerce mobile services, it should be possible to filter products, payments types, taxes, and related legal items based on regions and cultures.
  • Size of text and images need to be considered because not all the mobiles devices have same size and capabilities.
  • Other factors to be considered during the globalization phase are sorting, searching, keywords, telephone numbers format, etc.
  • A pseudo-translation process is also very useful to determine as early as possible any area of application not ready to display different languages.
Early Globalization Benefits

Once the globalization process is done, the mobile service or application is ready to be localized. There is no further need to deal with the service logic or code in order to translate the content. Additionally, the mobile service is now ready to be localized to any number of languages which means that the service is ready to be introduced to any market worldwide.

To localize the service, we just need to send the content in a sample format such as xml or xliff for translation, rather than sending any technical code or details to the translation house. An important benefitof early globalization is the ability to accelerate the localization process by sending the content in parallel to different language translators, which saves a lot of time, rather than doing this process one language at a time. If the application is not globalized, the service source code itself would need to be sent each time to be translated per language. When the service is already globalized the service logic stays intact and just the content is isolated from the logic that needs to be sent for translation.


Importance of Mobile Services Online QA

When the localization process is complete, the mobile service is almost ready to be deployed to different markets worldwide, but there is one crucial step left, the Online QA. It is very important after applying the localization that linguistic QA reviewers to do a general review for the published translation. The reviewers check the consistency of the content at its final status and edit or fine tune any segments that need to be updated. Then, the final technical QA is needed as a last step in order to be sure that the service is working correctly in different languages and that there are no technical issues such as texts truncated, images not displayed, and date and time formatting issues.


In summary, this blog discussed the importance of globalization for mobile services.  There are essential items and steps that need to be addressed in any mobile service globalization project.  It is also beneficial to begin these steps early in the development process.

The online QA process is a vital step that is sometimes missed and this blog highlights the importance of always including it.  As mentioned earlier, having a mobile application marketing strategy is one of the most important ways to compete in the worldwide marketplace.

Further resources from GPI

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has developed a suite of globalization tools which help clients achieve their global application goals. You can explore further under the Tools sections of our Translation Services. GPI also offers internationalization and globalization consulting services and can evaluate your web-based applications for global readiness. Partnering with GPI before you localize or translate your applications will ensure you avoid many potential mistakes with global development and will save you considerable time and money on your next localization projects.

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