Localizing Applications into Spanish: Accessing New Markets and Increasing Revenues

The Advantages of Localizing your Application

Have you noticed how, nowadays, everything you buy comes with an app? Technology is now embedded into everything we do. Yes, our phones are smart, but so are our TVs, watches, and home appliances. Brands across the board offer applications and user interfaces that help customers interact with them and with their products. This means that new companies of all sizes are now involved in software development, far beyond the classic tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple. And together with the application explosion, we see the rise in mobile app localization. If more and more applications are being created, more and more applications need to be translated and localized so that they can be used all around the world. 

Localizing applications allows companies to offer them in a multiplicity of markets, which directly leads to an increase in monthly active users, which can, in turn, create an increase in revenue. If localizing applications has such a positive outcome, where should we start?

Choosing a Language: App Localization into Spanish

Well, the first step is generally choosing the new markets we want to reach so that we can figure out what languages and cultures need to be involved. Applications tend to be developed in English, originally. Once an app gains momentum, companies wishing to expand usually start analyzing the size and the purchasing power of other markets in relation to the product that they have to offer. In general, mainstream European languages are a safe bet, with Spanish being one of the most popular choices due to its reach. As the second most spoken language in the world, localizing your application into Spanish would ensure accessibility for the 480 million Spanish speakers, who are spread around the world across 22 different countries.

22 Countries!? But Then Which Spanish Do We Choose?

The two main varieties of Spanish are European Spanish and Latin American Spanish. This distinction is only helpful as a reference, because “Latin American Spanish” is not really a language variant per se. 

Latin America is a vast area which has Spanish variants of their own. Central American Spanish differs from Andean-Pacific and Rioplatense Spanish, for example. Ideally, apps would be localized to suit each country’s language, history, and culture. However, this would involve considerable amounts of time and money, which is why the Latin American variety exists. In general terms, all the varieties of Spanish spoken in Latin America differ from the Spanish spoken in Spain, and a balanced variant can be reached in order to appeal to the area as a whole.

Text Expansion when Going into Spanish

If we choose Latin American Spanish as our target language, one of the main issues that we need to consider when translating the text from English is text expansion. This can be particularly tricky when dealing with user interfaces, as applications are to be accessed through the small screen of a smartphone. As with most things, the best way to tackle this problem is by planning ahead. UI teams are encouraged to plan for a 35% expansion of the text in translation. This means allowing for a 25 or 30-word string if the original has 20 words in total.

Mobile Internet Speed and The Latin American Context

Internet access in Latin America varies depending on the region. Cities and larger urban areas enjoy and expect high connection speeds, while more remote areas are often lacking in infrastructure. However, according to a report recently published by the agency “We Are Social”, the percentage of the population in the Latin American region that uses the internet is over 70%. 

Young people within these populations are generally tech-savvy and open to new technologies, making them excellent targets for any up and coming applications, once they have been localized. Because of the different mobile and broadband speeds, it could be worth developing lighter versions of the application so that they can be easily accessed everywhere. The idea is to reach as many users as possible across the region.


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