Localization Lessons Learned

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by kshep, Nov 21, 2008.

  1. kshep macrumors member


    Jul 14, 2008
    Hello everyone!

    We just released Imangi 2.0.2 which is our first big international update. This includes full localization of the app, the App Store description, and the screenshots into English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Russian. The update went live yesterday. I'm looking forward to seeing how this affects sales in regions outside of the US. We are now one of a few word games to fully support most common languages.

    Here are some lessons learned so far about localization:

    1) Design your applications to support localization from the get go. I had designed the iPhone App with this in mind, but not our web services. I was able to retrofit the web services component without too much trouble, but it was a repetitive boring task. Much easier to start with this in mind.

    2) Beta test your localizations. Since I don't speak any of the languages that we translated into, it was hard to know if we got good or bad translations. Having native speaking beta testers really helped us verify that our translations were good, and they helped correct any awkward sentences or misspellings.

    3) Localization affects layout. The same phrase in different languages may require different amounts of space to display on the screen in the same font size. This can cause layout problems. Try to design your screens and layouts with this in mind. Don't pack things in too tight. Fortunately, we didn't have too many issues with this, but do expect this to happen and be prepared to make necessary fixes.

    4) Have all of your text ready to translate. Make sure that your app is in a stable place without major plans to add significant features anytime soon. Typically you provide a large chunk of text to a translator and they will do it all at once. They will likely charge you every time you come back with more text. It's easiest and cheapest just to do it all at once instead of in multiple passes.

    5) Internationalization is HARD. It takes a very long time and there is a lot to test and verify. We spent about 2 months time from when we first decided we wanted to translate to having something ready. You effectively multiple the time you need to spend testing and marketing by the number of languages you want to support. It also makes it harder to add new features in the future because you will always need to translate any new text.

    Overall, it's been a great learning experience, and I'm glad that we decided to do this. I hope it will help our sales and engage more of the international community. If all goes well, I will plan to internationalize all of our current and future apps. I'm sure some of what I've learned will help make it go faster the next time around. I also hope that these lessons learned will be helpful to everyone else out there considering localization.

    Please feel free to ask if you have any questions, and please share any of your lessons learned.

    Take care,


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