Why Translating your application

By Edouard on July 5, 2017

Why should you translate your application?

Because it will open your app to new markets. You will get new customers/visitors

Only 26% of the world’s Internet population understands English. By localizing your application to their languages you will therefore gain customers.

Localization only is an accelerant, though. An application currently having a poor market fit in its current market probably won’t magically work in foreign markets too. You need to already have traction in order to get more revenue. Localizing an app which has troubles finding its market niche is likely to cost you more money than you will earn.

Let’s say your software’s annual revenues are $10,000 per year. You estimate that translating your app in Chinese will open you to the Chinese market and will make your revenue grow 10% a year thanks to that.

10% of $10,000 is $1,000. Given that translating your app into Chinese cost you $1000 it might be worth spending that money into development work or marketing in order to increase revenue before thinking about localizing your application.

Now, if your software annual revenue is $100,000 a year, this is a whole different story. 10% revenue growth represents $10,000 more per year. Growing your company worldwide can be a great way to increase your revenue, at the cost of an increased complexity.

Localizing increases complexity

By making your application available into more languages you will increase complexity. If you regularly update your application with new feature, your development team could deploy new features whenever they were ready.

Now the development team will deploy the new feature whenever the new feature is translated and the translations tested.

If your team has more than a few developers it is likely you will need to set up a strict workflow so new features are only deployed after they are translated and so that translators can work on a stable environment where no new segments to translate creep in while they are currently working. This typically slows down a new feature release by about a week. We’ll write an article about workflows for internationalization in the future.

It’s not only complexity due to translations

A few week in after having defined a proper workflow having a internationalized application will feel easier. After all with a good process in place and outsourcing the work to good companies things aren’t too difficult. But growing your organization worldwide is not only about translation work.

If you handle tech support for your app you will have to handle it in the supported languages too. It might mean hiring and training customer representatives in these new supported languages.

It might also mean to adapt your application to the local laws, secure local domain names, …