App Localization Solutions: MVP or Piloting?

App developers and startups do not want to risk investing in an App localization. The main reason is the tight budget and reluctance to make investments until they make sure that the App will be a success before trying to localize it. In this regard the term minimum viable product (MVP) was applied into localization industry.

Historical background of MVP

Initially, MVP is a startup philosophy. The term was developed by Frank Robinson and then promoted by Steve Blank and Eric Ries. Now it is widely accepted in the startup community. With this approach a product is released with a minimum set of elements that is enough to expand in the market.

Opponents of MVP concept

A few years ago this approach met stiff opposition in the startup world. One disagreement to the concept is that MVPs could be a waste of time. After all, why spend time and resources creating a prototype that might be incomplete, or that might be too simplified to appeal to your target market. To discover what users really want, it is quite possible to use market analysis or customer surveys. Another objection is that MVP is not a fully usable product that will delight customers. This is not a product, this is a tool to verify a specific hypothesis.

MVP and App Localization

MVP has also cropped up into localization niche and created dangerous situation for most App developers. For some reasons when people hear the word “product”, they assume that it means the first version of a product that is coded and “launched”. Moreover some localization companies encourage developers to build MVPs.

Now let’s imagine a typical situation. An App developer decides to build an MVP according to the concept presented by the company above. MVP localization will include all the basic elements described in my previous article. A user will read a description and even screenshots in the language he or she speaks in the App Store, then installs the App. Afterwards the user will end up being completely frustrated. The screenshots were misleading, the language of the game is different from the one in the description and the one the user speaks. The user removes the app and never comes back, because nobody likes to be cheated. Conclusion: MVP localization of your App is doomed to failure.

Solutions to App Localization

The MVP is ambiguous term. As the result it causes big misunderstandings in localization industry misleading many game development companies. The goal of an MVP launch is not to launch the first version of an application or mobile game. It’s simply to start gathering feedback and observing users actually interacting with something. Within this industry more accurate term can be piloting localization.

Piloting localization will stand for a research process at the initial stage at which a localization specialist will test an App using different tools and techniques. Along with keyword research from scratch, market competitor analysis, a game developer gets a piloting localization of an App. The piloting App can be used in the market research and customer research surveys to test a concept and find out what customers really want before a developer invests and enters a market.

In case of a tight budget, options for piloting localization can be limited. But the most important is that app developers have a deep understanding that this is rather a testing technique than the first version of an application, from one hand. From the other hand users are aware that this is a piloting localization. In this way users’ expectations won’t exceed the reality, and disappointment can be avoided.

By the way, in case a piloting localization turns out a success, it can become a good teaser. With this campaign an app developer can engage with customers, grab attention and generate attention. But that’s another story. All constructive comments are most welcome!