MV ... what? the Mimimum viable concept applied to Localization!
Have no fear of perfection you will not reach it … this is a very timely quote. It’s from Salvador Dali, the surrealist painter born in Figueres Spain. Here I’m, in the train not far from his hometown thinking about the concept of perfection.
And what I like of this quote is that it matches very well in the world I work. It goes perfectly in the Agile methodologies and of course, it matches very well in my beloved Localization industry! Why is that?
When I do think about perfection …. the word ‘perfection’ sounds great.!
We do know no one is perfect and nothing is perfect, but still it sounds powerful! But the “perfect” mindset is dangerous. We might strive for excellence, yes, of course, we should strive to achieve great results! The problem with a perfectionist mindset is that we might be losing opportunities. And sometimes, we don’t need something perfect, something good might be enough! This is one of the advantages of the Agile methodologies. We don’t launch a perfect product, we launch a product with a number of features, and then we improve it, we do iterations based on the data we collect.
This approach is named MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and in Localization, we have our own version of MVP! We use a similar acronym, we use a similar mindset, but it’s not very known this methodology … we call it MVL!!!
But, what’s this Minimum Viable Localization approach?
Keep reading and hopefully, I will be able to explain what MVL is :)
Localizing a product is a complex tasks, no, better said!… going global is a huge complex tasks! It’s much more complex than type https://translate.google.com/ and copy your English text there, and paste the translation in your company software … it’s also more complex than ask to that French developer you have in your dev team to translate a few keys here, and a few keys there… going global full localized is a very, very complex tasks … and we have a dilemma here … thanks to growing internet penetration product distribution has never been easier or cheaper to go global. Putting a game or an app now in the market is sooooooo easy compared to 10 years ago.
I remembered how complex it was back in 2005-2010 period …. I was working in the consoles industry, and at that moment to prepare a video game for PS3 and reach agreements with FNAC, Carrefour, El Corte Ingles…. it was a phenomenal effort in terms of agreements and logistic. Having physical games in physical shelves was challenging!
Now in the app stores, we can reach millions of clients with just a few links! But although distributing an app is easier, the dilemma now it’s that still the world is just too big to attack all the markets. Some prioritization is required. Here is when the concept of MVL jumps into the stage.
How to find to your MVL?
To find our MVL we have to design 4 main phases
Phase 1 Which market?
There are 196 countries in the world. Wow! Targeting so many countries it would not go very well with the minimum localization approach :) If you aren’t sure which countries to start with, target countries that have large populations and high mobile device market.
An example of these countries might be Mexico, China, Russia, Japan, France or Germany.
That infographic from smsglobal gives us some tips about which market we might attack first. Choose one or more of these countries and let's go to implement our MVL!!
Phase 2 What do we localize? What’s the minimum we want to localize?
Once we have decided in which countries we are going to start our minimum localize journey, we need to start localizing! But what do we localize? Localizing everything it might be overwhelming. In this phase, the MVL mindset is very valuable. Some best practices for approaching MVL would cover the following areas:
· Keywords is one of the first aspects to consider when taking a MVL approach. Localizing just your keywords might have a great impact on the number of times an app is downloaded. A great example of this is David Janner. He didn’t localize the app, he just translated the keywords, and the impact this minimum localization had for him was mindblowing. Downloads went up by 767%. He documents all his learning in this marvelous post
· Graphics and screenshots. Although images are universal taking the time to localize visual elements is worth it. Human beings we tend to be visual oriented, I do think taking the time to localize pictures, screenshots, and generic graphics should be part of our MVL
· App name title. Unless your app name is quite famous and recognize, for example, Candy Crush :) we might consider localizing the title of our app. If you feel localizing the title of your app does not make any sense we can translate the keywords in our title to benefit from the keywords’ popularity in different languages.
You can check here my previous posts about ASO where I covered some of these techniques deeply
· Phase 3 Measurement? Are we heading in the right direction?
This is the last step of our MVL process. We have decided in which countries we want to test our product, we have decided what’s the minimum time and/or budget we have... now it’s time to measure!
This is the most important and exciting phase of this methodology! In this stage, we review our specific potential market for a larger later localization effort. Basically, we ask ourselves whether localization has been successful and which are our next steps. The question here is …. What’s the KPI of successful? How do we determine if the MVL has been successful?
Here it will be very helpful to define beforehand a number of metrics that we can compare before MVL vs after. Some examples of KPI might be the following:
· xx% increase in app downloads in the target countries. If our app downloads KPI reflects a 28% increase after taking the MVL this means we are on the right path!
· more coverage in the web pages, or blogs or any other media reference. If the “others” are talking about our app it might be perceived as a good indicator :)
· getting the attention from app stores by being featured – this is a tough one but if we manage to get the attention from Apple or Google we might see a boost in the number of downloads!
· social share (if our app is content oriented our potential users might connect it with their social media account. Social shares indicate interest in our app, yay!!!
Phase 4 And now what?
This is a powerful question! We have seen an increased in our KPIs at all levels! Our app is download more and more in those countries we chose, the keywords strategy is working fine …. Maybe …we need to keep the momentum and we should take a full localization approach!
If this full localize approach seems still very intimidating I do recommend to start reading these references. It will help to get ball rolling. It will help you to adopt the proper mindset and the best practices
- Build Apps for the world
- Localizing you app (Apple developer reference material)
- Localizing with Resources (Android devs)
Before finishing my post I want to bring your attention to 2 dangerous areas when it comes to design an MVL approach:
- Find the right quantity of content to localize in your MVL approach! Too much content we might delay our time to the market and this might impact the learning and measure the part. Too little we might frustrate our potential users that they are expecting a semi-translated product
- Make it clear in the app description or in any pop up screen, that the app is not fully translated. It might be a very bad reputation for our app that our potential clients expect the app fully localized and then they realized this is not the case. A clear description about what’s localised should be included in the notes of our app.
Don’t forget this important step as failing into this important aspect might ruin our MVL exercise!!!
Good luck out there and good luck with your MVL journey!!!
Meanwhile, have a fab w-end!