Developing a successful app for the country you live in and are familiar with is one thing. But redesigning an already developed app to reach a new audience and monetize in a foreign country, is another challenge entirely. You might think that it’s as simple as basic translation -- if the user can read the content, what more is there to do, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as directly translating the product into Japanese, which is merely the first step in fully localizing software or mobile app. There are many issues to consider when localizing an app for a foreign country, including:
- Full, Thorough Translation - Instead of trying to scrape by with a free translation service, it’s necessary to have a native speaker work through each and every piece to make sure that the content is not only grammatically correct but reads in a way that makes sense for users. In Japan especially, it’s glaringly obvious to users when translation is not done by a native Japanese speaker.
- Product Name & Packaging - The name of a product is crucial to its success in any market. To accurately name a product, you must understand the culture of the target market. Certain words and phrases that connect with one country’s audience don’t necessarily speak to the Japanese audience. For example, Disney changed the name of the movie “Frozen” to “Anna and the Queen of the Snow” because not only is there no direct translation for the word frozen, the concept didn’t make sense to Japanese viewers.
- Engaging, Ongoing Content - The very particular Japanese audience is always looking for the next challenge and experience within an app. Giving users exciting ways to unlock new features or meet new characters will keep this audience engaged and more likely to revisit your app time and time again, which is key since, in Japan, consumers discover and engage with apps through app subscription services offered by the country’s largest mobile carriers. Users pay a monthly fee for a certain number of app downloads each month, making the market even more competitive.
- In-App Experience - It’s important to keep in mind cultural differences when designing additional layers within the app. For example, certain filters, stickers, or facial recognition software themes will not resonate with the Japanese audience, or other international audiences, the same way the American audience interprets them. Having focus group and test audiences will help determine if an idea is innovative or out of touch.
- Customer Support - This is one of the most important, yet most often overlooked components of software and app localization. When they call a support number, customers expect to speak with native Japanese speakers, not someone in another country. This added level of personalization makes a big difference for consumers looking for help.
Developing a fully-localized product or app can mean the difference between success or failure in a foreign market. Ignoring even one small localization detail in the development process can result in a product that gets passed over for a similar offering. Prepare your app for success in the Japanese market by checking off these items during the development stage and saving time and money from the start.