An app with mind-blowing graphics will never be popular if it can’t provide a high-quality user experience (UX) ; this is a well-known fact. For this reason, UX design is the essential technical priority when creating an app. However, UX localization is a new hit that raises many questions from app owners.
Allowing users to communicate and get to know each other anywhere in the world keeps Facebook and Instagram the most used and profitable apps. Do you want to achieve the same global recognition? The good news is you have that opportunity!
UX localization is much bigger than UX design. It is about creating cross-cultural products with international UX in mind from the beginning of the development process. At first glance, it doesn’t sound very easy, but let’s deal with everything in order.
UX – What is it?
UX is user experience, that is, the user’s impression of your platform. UX includes the look and feel of buttons, links, and other elements.
Why is it essential to consider the user experience? If the user is comfortable on the platform, you make a profit. If visitors have trouble navigating, they close the page or delete the app, and you get nothing.
How do experts figure out the quality level of UX? For this, international UX testing is used. The system allows you to analyze your platform to make changes to improve the user experience with your app. For example, through UX testing, you can collect valuable insights into users’ perceptions of what they like, what they don’t want, what navigation style is more convenient for them, and what category of products and services is the most popular.
UX localization – everything you need to know
To make the concept of “UX localization” clear to you, let’s look at a specific example. You are thinking about how to build a language learning app, and your first idea is to replace the text of your application with words in other languages. However, to provide a quality UX for international users, you need to localize the UX, which means:
- Bringing your app’s content in line with the target audience’s habits, wishes, and tastes instead of a literal translation.
- Using currencies and ratios of a particular nation.
- Adapting the user interface to different locales, including content tone and style.
- Use of cultural graphics, visual effects, and colors.
An element of the platform, which seems insignificant to you at first glance, is crucial for foreigners. By properly localizing UX, you can increase sales, trust, and customer loyalty, wherever they are.
UX localization step-by-step guide
Now that you are familiar with UX and UX localization, let’s move on to the main topic of our article. Below you will find four steps of UX localization to meet the needs and expectations of global users.
Ensure app usability in any market
The usability of your application should be in line with the cultural norms of different countries and regions. Your task is to localize these elements for all the cultures your app targets:
- Forms for user input. Most cultures use two fields to enter their name: first and last names. However, there are two fields for the last name in Spain because people use both their father’s and mother’s last name. Learn the characteristics of each country and adapt the correct international UX design.
- Symbols, icons, and colors. Elsevier’s research proves that incorporating culturally preferred design elements can positively impact usability. For example, many Chinese apps have red color as a symbol of good luck. You will lure the Chinese to your platform by picking up on this trend.
- Information and navigation structure. Different cultures use different ways to navigate the platform. Some cultures focus on text menu items, while others scan the entire page before interacting with it. Therefore, your page should include an item menu, images, and rich text content.
Based on this step, it becomes clear that you must do everything so that users do not break their heads over how to use your app. The platform should be simple: from the user input form to the navigation.
Tailor the user interface to the needs of different cultures
The user interface is another element of international UX design, which should meet the norms of different cultures. To prevent people from having problems with the user interface, follow these tips:
- Consider the length of the language and the size of the fonts. English words are usually shorter than in other languages. For example, the English word “user” is several times shorter than the French word “utilisateur.” Trying to cram text into a form that isn’t designed for long phrases will cause display, layout, and UX issues. Therefore, you must use different layouts to embed information in other languages.
- Support languages from right to left and left to right. Right-to-left (RTL) languages such as Arabic and Hebrew change the direction of text compared to English, and change the notion of time and sequence of actions. Therefore, you must use a structure that allows users to read data from right to left and left to right.
- Create UX with localization in mind. To provide high-quality UX design for a global audience, we encourage you to stay clear of idioms and phrases that don’t translate into multiple languages; avoid homonyms; rely on term bases and glossaries.
If you follow all these steps in the initial stages, you will avoid costly redoing of the app. Your platform will be suitable for any market.
Identify non-textual UI elements for localization
If your platform includes localizations of culturally significant elements, you will provide an exceptional user experience. Here is an overview of the most common non-text elements to localize:
- Images with people, animals, objects, places, and symbols are essential to the target audience.
- Animation and video are used in screens and onboarding tutorials.
- Call-to-action buttons.
- Internal and external links on the application website.
Perhaps these elements seem illogical to you. So let’s look at an example. Airbnb has developed a home screen that includes an “Explore nearby” section. Thanks to this section, users can instantly find the most suitable places to stay in their current location. The platform illustrates the points of interest that will help you get to your destination. It’s brilliant.
The last step is content localization. Here are the main elements that fall under this task:
- Error messages.
- Adaptation screens.
- App store descriptions.
- Customer support emails and responses.
- API documentation.
The essence of this step is to translate all content. It is up to you which element will fall under automatic or manual translation. However, we recommend considering each section’s level of visibility, impact, and durability. The more important the section, the better the translation should be.
UX localization is a long and complex, but essential process. The platform cannot exist only on high-quality content translation for different cultures. It is essential to implement the traditions, standards, and requirements of various nations in the app, and then you will be able to achieve business success on a global level.