7 Proactive Tips For Arabic App Development
In a recent report published by Internetworldstats.com, Middle East region accounted for 164,037,259 Internet users in Dec 2017, i.e 64.5% of the population. Today, the Arab and Gulf region accounts for over 500 million daily internet users, more than half of whom use smartphones for web surfing and to access information on-the-go. However, we can’t say the same for the number of apps that are Arab script friendly. Not making an Arab-friendly app means missing out on the incredible business potential of the region. Business apps can skip this huge loss just by tuning in with local sociological, linguistic, and cultural specifics. Developing apps for Arab users means the application of UX and usability considerations specific to users in the region. More and more businesses today are investing in designing UX that contributes to increased sales and reduces costs.
Years of experience in app development taught us that no two apps are similar, They will not have the same scale in the approach to success model. A mobile application for the Arab/Middle east market takes a diversified framework. It should cover the insights of all the core touch points.
Here are 7 Proactive Tips For Arabic Mobile App Development
#1 RTL – Right to Left Navigation
The invert layout, i.e. the right to left navigation, is a major disruptive design in the middle eastern mobile applications. Users from Arab countries respond well to the right to left layout mobile apps. This inverted layout is opposite to that of the western apps (pretty much from the rest of the globe), however, it displays the numbers in the left-to-right layout. While designing and developing the mobile app for the Arab nations, placing the text and numbers need expert knowledge to make it look attractive and consider usability.
Being considerate is important since organized display will keep the users stay informed and the RTL creates a connection with the app. Presence of mind with unique problem-solving skills is inevitable to develop this RTL layout. Not to forget some apps aims the international market also besides the Arab customers. The ultimate aim of the RTL should make the typography to look uniform with improved ease of access.
#2 Font usage
Arab fonts are one of the legible cursive fonts that take up so much space horizontally. When the same word or the clause of the content displayed in English doesn’t take that much room. A most common issue faced by the users is the readability—thanks to the tiny font size. It would frustrate for the users to zoom in to read while browsing around the app. And there are no major fonts available for the Arabs, they are limited and all of them are too small. We encourage the simplest solution—resort to a universal font designed by Google called Noto.
Most Arabic letters are written together, sometimes they feature dots and even diacritics. To make it a comfortable read for the end user, a bigger font is advisable from that used for the same word in English. At Stutzen, we generally add +2 to the point size of the body and smaller text. If you are a newbie developer working on an Arabic app takes into account the necessary space requirements for your copy when designing the layout of your interface.
#3 Usage of images
A western app image targets global customers. Most of the users who use mobile applications will not be completely placed in the different genre when it comes to choosing images for mobile apps. The case is different since the Arab audience needs to be taken care of the culture, authenticity and other aspects that are very specific to them. Placing images in the app can be sometimes too much work since it requires careful selection of images with equal weight to satisfying the users and the business industry it is serving.
When creating a bilingual app both the language typefaces need to match with each other aesthetically so the pages look similar to each other. Arabic font is wider and shorter as compared to Latin alphabets hence the typefaces need to be considered while developing the layouts. We ensure that the app users are comfortable with the Arabic layout and typesetting in case the app needs to be in multiple languages
#5 Multilingual Apps
Arabic mobile applications are difficult to code since it has to support two languages: English and Arabic. For example, An e-commerce app that has to support the Arabic language for the users while browsing across various screens (like icons, menu sections) and in case of the search functionality it has to take care of the brand name in English since users will search for them in their English name.
It takes high-quality coding work to present a multilingual/bilingual app that doesn’t create confusion for the end-users. The transition must be smooth and seamless since the nature of the middle eastern digital business needs bilingual features across any application model.
To address this issue at Stutzen we ensure that we offer Multilingual Search Functionality in Arab apps taking into account the usability principle of allowing scope for user error in the form of misspelled keywords. Arab apps designed by us suggest alternate search keyword too. This small thing has a huge effect on the end user experience. We have seen better retention rates as higher reviews for such apps.
#6 No Simple Translation
This is a thumb rule for any application that is coded in a language other than English. One cannot simply translate word by word. It doesn’t create meaningful sentences. Developers need to realize that Arabic letters take different shapes depending on the position they are assigned in a word. It so happens that often companies try using Arabic script translate text from English to Arabic but, after processing text in a CMS or editor, letters fall apart and cease to form words. Always seek the help of Arabic-speaking proofreader and translator to do copy for the app. Deep understanding of different local cultures and societal practices is a plus.
#7 Strategic user testing with the Arabic audience
A prolific UX is the one that passes a user’s expectations with flying colors and is intuitive to them. Designing an app for the Arab world means confusion around the exact set of the target audience which can vary in terms of Arab speaking population spread around geographical boundaries. No matter how experienced or familiar with the region, cultural influences or the language a developer is, it is never going to match up to the insights you’ll get from testing designs with real users. Not only should you design an app keeping this set of audience in mind but also facilitate user testing with testers from the same set. Testing an app with the Arab audience is going to help you understand their needs and goals and help you uncover usability problems in the app design interface.
All apps developed at Stutzen undergo strict and rigorous quality checks before being published. Apart from in-house testing, ou apps are also reviewed by our clients to evaluate its working and to see if all the requirements are incorporated or not
Designing for Arab script users does not finish with having content translated from a foreign language. It requires consideration, attention to detail, and the conscience that, while common practices, such as mirroring, may be applied, Arab users are already used to certain tools and solutions of left-to-right interfaces. Businesses should observe the MENA market, its local startup scene, online trends, and sociopolitical changes. This, among other arguments I will write about in future posts, shall provide a consistent way to communicate and deliver the services for the Arab market.
If you’re looking for mobile application or other software solutions for your business/project in the middle eastern market, you’re more than welcome to contact us