Global UX: Localization for Your OTT App

We look at important considerations for global UX as it applies to launching OTT apps for different cultures worldwide.

Localization For Global and Emerging Economies

A recent Statista report indicates that seven countries, including the U.S., have an OTT household subscription penetration rate of over 20%. Globally, a PWC Report states that India is now the world’s fastest-growing OTT market. 

If you are an OTT provider wondering how to generate more subscription growth and are looking to take your app overseas, you’ll want to know how to cater to these growing markets. However, launching an app in a new culture involves planning to meet audience expectations, so a global user experience (UX) and localization strategy are essential to mass adoption. 

Let’s look at important considerations for global UX as it applies to launching OTT apps for different cultures by first starting with localization principles.

What is Localization?

A localization strategy entails building a tailored approach for your product to address: 

  • Purchasing habits
  • Customer preferences and behaviors
  • Cultural differences in the targeted countries

Some examples of localization (as they apply to UX) include: translating content, changing currency, adjusting pricing, and providing customer service to meet the linguistic and legal requirements of a culture different from your own. Your goal with your localization strategy should be to develop a product that feels as it has been developed within the local culture.

Let’s take a look at some of the considerations of transcending OTT streaming across multiple cultures with an excellent example of a company that has localized its OTT app for global adoption:

The Rapid Global Expansion of Netflix

Netflix, which operates in over 190 countries, was able to amass an almost total global-reach in just seven years. Harvard Business Review’s analysis of Netflix’s extensive reach is based on its ability to leverage “country-specific knowledge” as a critical factor for local regions’ success. 

Netflix has gained relevance in so many global markets, but it did not attempt to enter all markets simultaneously. This cautious approach entailed partnering with many local media providers and cultural UX experts. These careful efforts lead to an increase in international revenue that surpassed US domestic numbers in 2018. 

Great storytelling transcends borders.
- Ted Sarandos, Netflix, Chief Content Officer

Getting Started with Global UX: Utilize a Culture Expert

When demographic-specific insights are difficult to gather from research alone, hiring an authentic cultural expert can be a win for your design strategy. 

In the United States, this person would be equivalent to a digital anthropologist, or someone who studies the relationship between humans and digital-era technology. With this partnership, you can analyze different aspects of your target audience so that you achieve mass appeal across all of your designs.

Cultural UX Review

When working with your digital anthropologist or setting out to the research on your own, here are some areas where you should seek to meet cultural or local norms in your design:

  • Color: UX/UI designers often use color to drive emotion within their design. Different cultures often interpret colors differently, so the psychological effects you are looking to achieve may work well in one country and not in another. For example, the Western world associates white with purity and red with passion and danger. Conversely, in India, white is associated with morbidity and red with purity.
  • Graphics: UX designers often tinker with the previews in thumbnails to test engagement. A dog’s use in imagery may depict our connection with our furry friends in Western countries. However, in Islamic culture, where dogs are considered dirty or dangerous, the image may not result in the desired engagement.
  • Navigation: Some cultures read left to right, while others read right to left
  • Forms: When letters take up more space than initially designed for, this can result in an unpleasant UX when not appropriately addressed.
  • Holidays: Be familiar with local holidays to utilize personalization or recommendations.

Bad Translation Can Be Costly (And Embarrassing) 

As content has become more international and big brands increasingly have to identify global scaling considerations, building apps for different cultures and languages is not always as simple as changing the menus’ language. 

For example, when the food chain KFC made the move to the far east, its campaign slogan, “Finger-Licking Good,” was not well received by the Chinese population. The mandarin translation of the infamous slogan read: “We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off”—far from appetizing. 

Language is perhaps one of the most obvious yet underemphasized aspects of recognizing the need to move toward an accurate, “culture-first” strategy to maintain the relevance of content internationally. 

Maintaining the authenticity of idioms and metaphors while considering cultural preferences in the content is the key to achieving amplification on a global scale. OTT providers who are keen on expanding their reach outside of the United States need to keep in mind that accurate translation and accessibility, via subtitles and proper dubbing, can determine a platform’s success overseas.

Subtitle Considerations

By and large, consumers in different countries follow several trends in the kinds of content they want to view. For example, 44% of Mexicans surveyed reported that they watched a foreign-language title with subtitles. 

The research suggests that the Mexican population depends, and expects, access to subtitled content. This common localization practice is one of the factors that OTT providers will have to consider when applying a content strategy within the Mexican market; and beyond. 

To avoid coming up short when trying to captivate global audiences, OTT providers should: 

  • Focus on UX for different cultures, and languages
  • Empathize with the people who you are designing products for
  • Purposely re-use code but always revamp UX

The point is to accurately convey your content in a way that is impactful but is in no way unintentionally offensive or confusing.

How To Make the Most of Your Content Overseas

The complexities of launching your OTT service internationally cannot be underestimated. While globalization has ushered in a slew of significant challenges, the rewards of a global localization strategy can pay off for forward-thinking content providers. 

Just like you need to account for the native nuances between Roku and Apple TV, you need to have the same considerations for your international expansion. What works in the United States may not transcend internationally.

The OTT market expansion has left many new up-and-coming providers looking for the right software and infrastructure to leverage.  At Zemoga, we've been changing the lives and businesses of Fortune 500 companies for over 18 years, helping content providers reach audiences globally and domestically. 

Our group of experts are agile and flexible; to help strategize with your internal team to determine what localization approach will work best to achieve your content’s goals. We can help you solve big or small problems from scratch. 

Contact us today to figure out how we streamline your OTT app’s global UX.