App Localization Steps: #2 Preparing Your iOS App

Once you have done your research on what languages to translate your app into, it is time to start preparing for the app localization process.

Start by translating your app store description, which will let you test their response in different languages before committing further into the app localization process. Since you already know where people downloading your app come from due to the research you did in the Google Play and iTunes Connect stores, translating the description will provide good data to reinforce these numbers. If you know that French and Spanish downloads are high for your app, and then see that downloads increase for French by 40% and Spanish by only 20% once you translate the description, you’ll know that it is more important for you to translate the full app into French first.

When you have some data on which description translations perform best, it is time to use that information and prepare for app localization. Below are the first steps to localizing your iOS app. The goal of this tutorial is to get all the content from the storyboard and the create a .strings file, translate it, and load it back into the app.

1. Add new languages to your project: Click on your Project Folder and under “info” click on the “+” under “Localizations”

App localization- step 1

2. Select languages you would like to localize your app for as well as the files that you would like to localize.

App localization- step 2

3. Confirm that the new language shows up in your list. You’ll see below that you now have French listed as well.

App localization- step 3

4. Check that Xcode has also have created a Main.strings (French) file. This is the file that you can send off for translation.

App localization- step 4

5. Translate! Then, check whether the translated file looks appropriate. Once translated, the file will look like this.

App localization- step 5

6. Test translations in the iOS Simulator. To do so, navigate to Product > Scheme > Manage Schemes and under “Options” select French as the “Application Language.” Once you run build, you should see the French translated text in the iOS Simulator

App localization- step 6

With the storyboard translated and the app displaying the French content, the next step in the process is retrieve and translate the dynamic content that is not picked up in the storyboard. Stay tuned for our advanced tutorial on preparing your iOS app for localization!


Apple localization documentation


Translation Quality Introduction: Unleash Your Inner Katniss

If you’re not one of these people, putting out translated content without confidence in translation quality likely feels a lot like shooting arrows in the dark. You can’t see your arrow, you don’t know where the bull’s-eye is, and you have no clue how far you are from it.

It turns out that archery is exactly the right analogy when measuring translation quality, or quality for any process for that matter. The score on a series of shots (translation of a series of content) is measured in two ways:

Accuracy: On average, how close are your arrows to the bull’s eye? In translation, this relates to how closely a translation is capturing the overall meaning of your original content?

Precision (Consistency): On average, how close are the arrows to each other? For your content, this “translates” into how consistently certain topics, themes, styles, and words have been treated throughout your content.

It is important to note that an archer can be accurate but not precise, and vice-versa. An excellent archer is both.

translation quality bullseye

So, how do you elevate your team’s translation quality game from someone who shoots in the dark to Katniss- level accuracy and precision? By taking the following 4 steps:

1. Hire Quality Translators: The axiom “garbage in, garbage out” definitely applies to translation quality. If you don’t start with quality translators, translation quality will be an uphill struggle from the get-go.

With thousands of translators and agencies out there, all touting their translation quality at low prices, this is easier said that done. Check out this recent post for insights on how to cut through the noise and find the right translator(s) for your content.

2. Regulate Consistency through Glossary and Termbase: While a good translation is important in its entirety, the (mis)treatment of key terms in a translation can make or break your translation quality. This may include things such as names of products, industry specific terminology, or other words/ phrases that appear multiple times in your content.

One way to regulate consistency is by providing a “glossary” or “termbase”- a database of terms you know to be important to your company and audience, along with some context and instructions on how to treat these terms. You can then have these terms translated and vetted explicitly, and then check the translations to ensure that these terms have been treated in accordance with your instructions throughout the content.

3. Ensure Accuracy through Proofreading and “Back-Translation”: How can you tell that the translation is “accurate” if you don’t speak the target language? By ensuring that translations are always read by a reviewer- a wingman who ensures that the original translator did not make any errors in the understanding and translating the content. In addition, tech-savvy content owners can leverage machine translation to “back-translate” content- meaning translate the new content back into English. While doing so gives you mildly coherent sentences, at best, it allows you to check for treatment of specific words and terms.

We will be covering the step-by-step process of back translation in future posts.

4. Gauge Fluency by “Native Reading”: A translation that is accurate and consistent may still fail to appeal to your international audience, if it does not “read natively”. One way to ensure fluency is to have an entirely new set of eyes- another translator or even one of your customers- read the translated content independently and rate it on fluency.

Interested in learning more about what makes content fluent? We will be covering this in a future post.

May the odds be in your favor.

App Localization Steps: #1 Which Languages to Pick?

App localization is made incredibly easy on the iOS and Android stores, allowing any developer to sell their application internationally. The development kits help with app localization for different languages and regions, and a localized app is much more appealing to regional users. But which languages should you pick?

App Localization for iOS

iOS officially supports dozens of languages, so app localization into all of them is beyond the budgets of most developers. Fortunately, both app stores provide download statistics that you can use to make this choice easier.

The iTunes Connect console provides download statistics by region and country, rather than languages.

Log in to iTunes Connect, and select “Sales and Trends”

Select an appropriate date range, and click sort “By Territory”

You’ll see a list of downloads by region. This is a little broad- select a region to drill down to the specific countries.

You’ll see a list of downloads by country. Apple does not provide usage history by language, but an app performing well in Germany may warrant a German translation.

App Localization for Android

Android Localization 1

Select your app from the list in the Google Play Developer Console

Android Localization 2

Select “Statistics”

Android Localization 3

Select “Language”

Android Localization 4

The Developer Console provides breakdown of your users by language and region. This is great information for deciding which languages to pick for android localization.

Android Localization 5

The Developer Console also provides a list of popular languages in your category. From this list, Japanese, Korean, and German would be good languages to pick for a Health and Fitness application.

By taking advantage of the Google Play Developer Console and iTunes Connect, you can determine the regions where your app is gaining the most traction. From there, you can focus your app localization efforts for these top languages, saving money while still reaping the benefits of a larger target market.

Translation File Formats: Introduction to XLIFF

As the localization industry began to flourish in the 80s and 90s, companies were writing custom tools to handle many different translation file formats. When the XLIFF standard was first introduced, it aimed to tackle this problem by establishing one file format for localizable data.

XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format) is an XML-based file translation file format used for sharing content between a developer and a translation company. By converting your application or database to XLIFF, translators can translate your text without any loss of information or formatting.

There are many benefits of using XLIFF as a standard translation file format, but here are a few of the big ones:

  • Translate documents of all types with a single file format

  • Formatting is removed from the localization process

  • Fluid transfer of data between different tools

What an XLIFF document looks like:


 Each XLIFF document contains one or more files. Each file element corresponds to a source text, usually a file or a database table. Within each file element are a collection of trans-units.


 Each trans-unit contains a source tag and can optionally contain a target tag:





It is also possible to use alt-trans elements within a trans-unit to leverage the power of translation memory and pre-populate terms that you have seen before.







Below is an example of a document in XLIFF 1.2 translation file format:


<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=“UTF-8″?>

<xliff xmlns=”urn:oasis:names:tc:xliff:document:1.2″ xmlns:okp=”okapi-framework:xliff-extensions” xmlns:its=”” xmlns:itsxlf=”” xmlns:xliff=”urn:oasis:names:tc:xliff:document:1.2″ version=”1.2″ its:version=”2.0″>

 <file original=”text.html” source-language=”en” target-language=”fr” datatype=”html”>


     <trans-unit id=”tu1″>

       <source xml:lang=”en”>hello</source>

       <target xml:lang=”fr”>bonjour</target>


         <source xml:lang=”en”>hello</source>

         <target xml:lang=”fr”>salut</target>



     <trans-unit id=”tu2″>

       <source xml:lang=“en”>goodbye</source>

       <target xml:lang=“fr”>au revoir</target>






At VerbalizeIt, we use XLIFF as the standard translation file format to simplify the localization process. By extracting documents into XLIFF and rebuilding them once the translation is complete, we are able to provide translators with a consistent workspace while maintaining the original formatting. XLIFF allows us to treat .docx, .txt, .xlsx, .strings, .srt, or any other file type as if they were one and the same.

Further Resources:

Interested in learning more about the XLIFF specification and how you can start converting files to XLIFF? Here are a couple resources of to get you going:

XLIFF specification:

XLIFF Committee homepage:

Open source tool for extracting XLIFF:

Do you use XLIFF for localization? Let us know how you are using it in the comments!

Hiring a Professional Translator? Here are 6 Steps for Evaluating Applicants

Chances are that if you have ever gone online for hiring a professional translator yourself, you have posted on multiple job boards such as oDesk, eLance, ProZ and maybe even Craigslist. You have then likely received hundreds of responses, all stating how individuals are incredibly capable of and experienced at exactly the job you are offering. Their quotes likely run from 1-2 cents/ word to 30-40 cents/ word.

Without speaking the language, how can you ensure that you are hiring the right translator within your budget? Here are 6 things you should ask for and evaluate candidates on: 

  1. Native Language and Location: Always ask for the location of the translator and their “native” language. Translators should only translate into their native language. In addition, if the translator is located in the country you are targeting, it gives the added comfort that he/ she is familiar with the local customs and nuances of language there.
  2. Public Profile: If a translator is even mildly serious about their work, they will maintain a professional profile on LinkedIn or even their own website or blog. Faking positive ratings on oDesk or eLance is far too easy these days. Make sure that your translator lives and breathes the profession you are hiring him/ her for.
  3. Area of Expertise: Most professional translators prefer to only translate content they have industry expertise in. Always ask about what expertise they have, and even samples of work they’ve translated in the expertise you need for your content.
  4. Sample Translation: Always provide a short sample of the content you are looking to translate, asking applicants to provide translations for the sample. Once you have several sample transaltions, ask someone on your team to review these samples and rate them. Alternatively, you can the translators rate each other (by paying them a small amount for the reviews).
  5. Rate: Always ask for the translator’s rate per word of content, and if he/ she offers discounts based on volume of work. You should note that some languages are more “expensive” than others (Scandinavian language, for example), so don’t be surprised if you see different rates for multiple languages.
  6. Responsiveness: The applicant’s responsiveness to your inquiries during the selection process is a good indicator of how communicative they will be on the actual project. Keep an eye on who is responding to your inquiries right away, and who is taking several hours/ days to get back.

Your lack of expertise in a language shouldn’t deter you from hiring the right translator for the job. These steps will help ensure that you are able to objectively and quickly evaluate multiple applicants and get your translation started as soon as possible.

Translation ROI: 3 Questions to Ask Your Team Before Investing in Translation

Are you considering investing in translation, but are not convinced of the true value of such an investment at your company? You have good reason to be skeptical.

Much like any other investment, internationalization of content must be approached with the same analytical rigor and an eye on its true potential to boost a company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, rather than quantifying translation ROI, most public anecdotes on the impact of translation on an organization talk in generalities- “massive” potential, “significant” boost in SEO, and “dramatic” increases in conversion- without tying these back to business results.

The decision to invest in translation, and subsequently measuring its success, should be based on one question:

How many new customers do you need to profitably acquire and serve in order to justify the total cost of translation?

 It should be clear that effectively answering this question regarding your translation ROI in turn requires an executive to have a handle on three very specific questions:

1. What is our “fully loaded” cost of translation?

The translation industry is trained to talk about the cost of translation with a very simple formula.

Basic Cost of Translation= Number of words * Cost per word

Companies will therefore expend significant time and energy in finding partners that will offer the lowest cost/ word. In reality, the decision to internationalize impacts and requires the ongoing involvement of multiple individuals and departments at an organization: content creators, technologists, project managers and marketers now need to manage multiple streams of content on an ongoing basis. This is a very real and often-neglected cost to your organization.

True Cost of Translation= (Number of words * Cost per word) + Coordination Costs

Absent a translation partner with the tech-savvy to automate much of this coordination, you are likely underestimating what it costs you to establish a translation program at your company.

2. Beyond translation, what investments are needed in customer acquisition in the new language/ geography?

Many translation providers preach the “if you build it, they will come” approach while advocating an investment in translation.  The reality is that your customer acquisition strategy in your home country/ language needs to be replicated, adapted and invested in when going to a new geography/ language to truly unlock the value of your translation program.

Enterprise-focused companies may need to set up new regional selling teams. SMB and consumer- centric companies will likely need to invest in multilingual digital marketing and distribution partnerships.

Of course, none of this should be a deterrent to starting small and testing the initial impact of translation, but the long-term value of a translation program hinges on the organization’s willingness to invest beyond the translation itself.

3. What is the lifetime value of the new customer base?

Of course, the very last piece of the puzzle is the most important one- your new customer. With geographic differences in spending power, purchasing behavior and brand loyalty, it is important to recalibrate your expectations of the value of your new customer base against those on your home turf.

Addressing these questions should allow an executive to establish a very clear understanding of how to first break-even on translation, and how to measure the long-term translation ROI thereafter.