The three most common ways to localize your web app

Listen to post

Your startup is growing, and you’re making lots of money. You notice users visiting from countries that are not English-speaking, and you celebrate. An influencer tries your app and tweets about it, and you see a spike in users: 100k plus users in 2 days. But there’s a problem, 80% plus of the users drop off.

Users who visit from the influencer’s post, visit your landing page, scroll to the bottom, but do not continue. They close the page. With English speaking users, 55% drop off, but with non-English speakers, 30% more drop off. A whopping 80%+!

You’re a starving founder, so; it would help if you had many more users. It would help if users subscribed. And it would help if they paid and you bank the cash. What do you do? You need users that speak many languages to use your site in their native language. Assuming you have three choices:

1. Install Google Website Translator or other translation widgets

2. Show an alert and tell users to use the Browser’s native translation tool or

3. Build localization into your web app.

What will you do? Each option has it’s pros and also cons. But with everything, you need to evaluate the options and decide what’s best for your users and your company. Notice the pros and cons of the options.

1. Install Google Website Translator or other translation widgets

Pros:

1. Fast to implement: Can be done and deployed in one day, and users can start using your app in their language right away.

2. Cheap: You don’t need multiple Engineers to implement this. It’s straightforward you don’t even need an Engineer to get this setup

Cons:

1. Poor user experience: Although you can have a language switcher, the customization option is limited, and the look and feel might differ from your website

2. Incorrect translations: Because translations do not consider the context, the meaning of your copy might be lost in translation, and you will likely be sending the wrong message to users

3. Looks cheap: Need I say more? You get what you work for.

4. Google does not officially support this as par Google’s website

2. Show an alert and tell users to use the Browser’s native translation tool

Pros:

1. Fast to implement: Not hard to implement although requires language detection

2. Cheap: You don’t need multiple Engineers to achieve this. It’s straightforward you don’t even need an Engineer to get this setup

Cons:

1. Poor user experience: Although you can have a language switcher, the customization option is limited, and the look and feel might differ from your website

2. Incorrect translations: Because translations do not consider the context, the meaning of your copy might be lost in translation, and you will likely be sending the wrong message to users

4. Requires some Engineering work to detect the Browser locale.

3. Build localization into your web app

Pros:

1. Better User experience: Gives the user the option to select a language via a language picker and persists the choice across multiple sessions. Also falls back to the User’s Brower locale

2. Translations are tailored to the context

3. Flexibility to localize not only text but also images and other assets

Cons:

1. Takes time and much planning to implement: Since we need to implement the ui, decide what languages to support, create locale data for supported locales, and many more, it will take time to get this out the door.

2. More room for error: Because we have many moving parts, there’s more room for error. For example, automatically using the browser locale or handling locale passed as URL params.

You have the three options above, and you need to pick one. You’re still bleeding non-English speaking users, so you must act swiftly. What will you do? You tell me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *