Case study: translating Pacer app
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Case study: translating Pacer app

I found Pacer in May and this app had everything I needed and even more. It could track the number of steps I took each day, as well as the distance I covered walking or running, my weight and the number of calories I burnt each day. It supported synchronization with MyFitnessPall. It could help form healthier habits and let me interact with other app users making the journey to a healthy lifestyle more fun.

 

There was just one problem: every morning when I opened the app to put in my weight, the first thing I saw was the Russian translation of the phrase “Today’s steps” typed with a spelling mistake. The overall quality of the Russian translation was poor, too. I had two options: I could delete the app or I could contact the developers and offer my help. I went for the second choice.

 

Challenge

 

The team at Pacer Works had two main reasons to translate the app interface into Russian:

 

  • They wanted to provide a better user experience for the Russian-speaking audience.

 

  • They wanted to increase the number of daily downloads in Russia by at least 200%. Here’s how Mike Caldwell, the Product Director at Pacer Works, commented on this goal: “Russia is the No. 6 of the Top 10 countries for Health & Fitness Category in Google Play, it contributes 3.57% of global daily downloads on average. When we had no Russian translation, our Russian users had to use our app in English, and the daily downloads in Russia were only 1.31%.”

 

Constraints

 

  • Being still in the start-up phase and providing the app for free, Pacer Works chose the cheapest option and hired a language student to do the translation.

 

  • Since no one on the team could understand Russian, it was impossible for them to check the quality of the translation.

 

Results

 

  • After Pacer Works provided the Russian translation done by the student, the share of the daily downloads increased from 1.31% to 2.51%, but was still below the average level.
  • Some users complained about the poor quality of the translation. There were several reviews pointing out the mistakes.

 

Solution

 

Thanks to the fact that I had been using the app myself and was well familiar with the subject matter, I didn’t have to do any extensive research in this particular case and could get straight into translation. First of all, I translated the app name and description in Google Play, using the relevant keywords. This alone increased the average number of daily downloads by 230%. Then I had to completely rework the whole translation (or rather translate from scratch), which brought another 99% increase in the number of downloads.

 

Here’s how other stats have changed within 2 weeks after implementing the new translation:

 

  •  The Russian share of the total daily downloads increased from 2.62% to 17.49% (the average level in Health and Fitness category being 3.57% and the initial goal — 3.93%)

 

  • The cumulative average rating of the app in Google Play grew from 4.03 to 4.34

 

  • The app place in the Health and Fitness category ranking changed from 102 to 7

 

These numbers speak for themselves, so there’s only one thing I want to add: at the moment the situation with mobile applications localization gives you a chance to get ahead of your competition just by hiring a professional to work on the translation for your app. This is an investment that will surely pay off and will help you save time, money and, most importantly, your reputation.

 

I’ve put together an infographic summing up the key-points of this case study.

 

pacer app-3

Photo by Death to The Stock Photo

 

 

 

2 Comments

  • Julia Graham

    19.08.2015 at 20:36 Reply

    Very impressive stats, Elena. Great work!

    • Elena

      21.08.2015 at 13:09 Reply

      Thank you, Julia!

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