Google Play lets your app reach audiences around the world. To maximise the effect of this reach – and your chance of getting as many installs of your app as possible – it’s important that every part of the user experience you offer is tailored to the expectations of individuals from all over the globe.

That’s where effective android app localisation comes in…

What is android app localisation?

App localisation, of course, is the part translation, part socio-cultural tailoring of your content and interface to make sure you’re sending the same message and providing the same functionality to audiences from different cultures. It’s just as important as making sure your company’s website is properly localised for different audiences, if not more so.

The very basics of app localisation will include aspects such as:

  • Performing market research to identify where your app will be a good fit for a country or audience
  • Using Google Play’s user acquisition report feature to perform market research if your app is already live
  • Considering how your app design will accommodate parts of the world which might have different amounts of bandwidth available – especially for very low bandwidth
  • Translating every part of your proposition, including your app and Google Play store listing

When in the app development cycle should localisation start?

Unless you’re only targeting a small local audience with your app, app localisation should be front of mind right from the very start. It isn’t something you can just slap on the end of your app development cycle and call it done.

This is because from the very beginning you’ll need to plan certain parts of your app’s design to be flexible enough to accommodate the changes that even simple localisation into other languages can require.

These can be things like:

  • The amount of space text can take up – German text can take up to 30% more space than its English equivalent, for example.
  • Right to left languages – may require a dramatic redesign of your app at a later stage if you want to implement them without being prepared to do so.
  • Time and date formats – should be configured to automatically match a user’s preferences. The system can provide this information.
  • Name and location input fields – users from different cultures or countries may require different options.

How many alternative layouts should I include?

As many as you can comfortably and easily support. Even adding one extra layout for a different language can dramatically increase the amount of maintenance support you need to provide, even though Android provides plenty of tools to make it easy.

It’s always worth leaving your default resources in default directories though. Don’t add language qualifiers to these unless you want to make things difficult for yourself!

Should I run store listing experiments?

Definitely. Using the right combination of icon, images and product description is key to maximum installs and is unlikely to happen the first time you brainstorm ideas. Proper A/B testing of all of these elements is always a sensible way to proceed, backing the changes you do choose to make with proper data rather than gut feeling.

You can test your default language option alone in all locations, or what works in several different languages at the same time. Google Play will even let you choose how many users will see your listing alternatives but won’t let you set the figure to 100%, meaning you always have a control group.

Here are some simple tips for this sort of store listing experiment:

  1. Only experiment with variations of one element (icon, description, order of screenshots) at a time
  2. Start with your app icon as this has been proven to have the biggest effect on whether users will install your app
  3. Don’t call it complete after 24 hours – leave your experiments running for at least a week
  4. Don’t be afraid to try new styles or designs, but do try a few variations on a theme before you give it up as ineffective
  5. Test on the biggest portion of your audience possible to see the most obvious results – Google Play will let you set your experiment rate as high as 50%

How do I get my app featured on Android Excellence?

Google’s new “Android Excellence” program is their way of allowing Google Play’s editors to curate lists of apps and games which promote the type of features or design ideas which Google wants developers to be building into their apps.

These lists will only be updated every quarter though, so you’ve got some working time between each new posting to figure out how to get your app featured!

To earn the right to be listed, Google has stated that it’s looking for apps with great:

  • Overall design
  • Technical performance
  • Device optimisation
  • Localisation

Being featured in any of these lists is sure to give a huge boost to the install numbers of any app. And with excellent localisation being such a heavily promoted way to get on there, can you afford to skip it when you roll out your next app?