Localization QA Testers: Guardians of Quality

Last Updated October 26, 2021

We rely on localization QA Testers to make the final product stand out, so they deserve some recognition.

We manage a team of linguists, translators, localization engineers and localization quality assurance (QA) testers, and we’re often asked to explain what they’re each responsible for and how the different roles interact.

In this article, we want to focus on localization testers. They’re an integral part of the localization process, but their role is sometimes not fully understood, nor easy to pinpoint.

Simply put, localization QA testers ensure the finished product does indeed appear to be created for the local market, and not just a patchwork of the original in a different language.

Let’s look at how QA testers play such a vital role in the localization process and see what a few have to say about what they do.

What are Localization QA Testers and What Do They Do?

In the past, when the focus was more on basic translation, localization QA testing wasn’t all that common. Final reviews were typically completed by linguists just before the files were sent to publishing.

The work and expertise of localization QA testers became a necessity in the translation process with the rise in localization of digital content, including mobile applications, software and websites.

Unlike translators, who mostly work with text in isolation from the rest of the user interface, localization QA testers are the very first people to see the localized product in its entirety – translated text, images and the rest of the user interface all together.

They get to experience the project in the way it will be consumed by the end users.

The localization QA testers analyze the product in three ways.

1. Linguistic testing

Accuracy of translation within context: Some words/sentences may need to be translated differently depending on their usage.

Consistency of terminology: “Submit” or “Send”? While these two words are quite similar, they can confuse a user if they are used inconsistently.

Missing content: Engineers who build a localized product most likely won’t speak the target language. If they miss part of the text, they’ll never know it until someone who can understand the language notices. Testers make sure that this “someone” isn’t the end user.

Proper date/calendar format: Does the day or the month go first? What is the first day on the calendar? These may differ between countries.

2. Cosmetic testing

Consistency with the source: Is everything laid out properly? Is there any truncated text? Misplaced line breaks?

Images: Are the images localized properly? Culturally appropriate? Remember the famous Microsoft photoshop slip? Testing is your chance to avoid similar disasters.

Proper character display: It’s not uncommon to see corrupted characters in localized products. Typically, they’re displayed in the shape of empty boxes or question marks, but in some languages, such as Arabic and Vietnamese, it’s almost impossible to detect corrupted letters if you don’t speak the language.

3. Functional testing

Links: Do the links within the localized content point to correct pages?

Behavior: Is the application behaving as it is supposed to?

Input/output validation: Do the forms allow target language characters to be input? Are the error messages localized properly? What about the postal code?

The Qualities of Localization QA Testers

Keeping all of this in mind, what characteristics make for successful localization QA testers?

The job may seem straight-forward at first, but it can be complicated and demanding. In a nutshell, it requires a combination of language skills, strong computer literacy, and great attention to detail.

It may be challenging to locate testers who have all these skills. Ideally, localization QA testers should have:

Close to native English skills

Testing localized products requires a solid understanding of the source language, which is often English. Testing is easiest for those who have lived or currently live in an English-speaking country.

Excellent linguistic skills in the target language

One of the main tasks for the localization QA tester is to ensure the final quality of translation. This requires a solid knowledge of grammatical rules, but that isn’t all. Localization QA testers not only need to be native speakers, but also must be up to date with the target language and the current cultural norms.

Computer literacy and experience

Localization QA testers review content on various types of website platforms and software. They report defects, take screenshots, and test the functionality of the product. Being comfortable with a computer allows a QA tester to focus on essentials rather than troubleshooting simple tasks.

Being exposed to different programs gives localization QA testers a broader understanding of how the product should behave. Experienced QA testers know where to look for common localization issues even if the step was not spelled out in the test script.

Internet research skills

Verifying proper product names and looking for the most common terms and expressions requires strong research skills and a little bit of common sense. Being able to find things quickly and effectively online saves time and eliminates errors.

Attention to detail

This is one of the most important factors distinguishing great localization QA testers from good ones. Something easily missed by a translator could be seen by thousands of end users.

Flexible schedule

You may be surprised to see this item on the list. In the localization industry, where testing is one of the final steps and schedules constantly change, being flexible is an absolute must.

Ask a Pro: Get to Know 3 Localization QA Testers

When you’re curious about something new, there’s nothing better than consulting an expert.

To get even more insight, we’ve asked some friends to answer a few questions about the challenges and rewards of being a localization QA tester.

Elodie Beguere

Bio: Native French, I started in the localization industry in Portland, OR in 2007, and worked with multiple local and global agencies mostly on site. I moved back to France in 2010 and am currently working remotely with North America.

Elodie on LinkedIn

If you meet someone at a party and they ask you what you do, how do you describe your job?

When I say that I am a “testeur”, I get the look “Huh??” Then I say, “I review the quality of the adaptation of a product into French”, and people understand.

For most people, I have a weird job, out of the ordinary. I have to say that I moved back to my French hometown, and it doesn’t take much to get off the beaten path.

What’s the most common localization mistake that you see?

Format issues: French uses a lot more words than English, so often French text doesn’t fit in buttons, windows, boxes; there is a lot of overlapping. Then comes punctuation standards and special characters.

What skills do you think are important in LQA?

I think a tester needs to be focused, flexible, have good communication skills, and of course be comfortable with working remotely, not to mention have an understanding family.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Because I work from France mostly with American vendors, the time difference is sometimes difficult: I make myself available basically from when I wake up to bedtime (i.e. sometimes very late). Worst case scenario is when I start a job in the morning (nighttime in the US or Canada), I have a crucial question (links that don’t work, sites under maintenance, instructions related questions…) and I don’t get an answer before midafternoon. The stress level can get high as the deadline approaches.

Also, the workload fluctuates: some weeks I have no work, others, I have too much.

What do you love the most about your job?

I love my flexible schedule.

I like the fact that I rarely work on the same type of project and if I do, I can only get better at it.

I like all the aspects of the localization/adaptation industry whether it’s testing, translating, reviewing, transcribing, subtitling etc.

Gabor Becht

Bio: With 30+ years of hi-tech marketing experience all over the globe, I apply my linguistic and IT/inter-cultural skills and knowledge to the demanding new challenges of the localization industry. Primarily for Portuguese Brazil/Portugal and Hungarian.

Gabor’s Website

If you meet someone at a party and they ask you what you do, how do you describe your job?

I am a multilingual cultural specialist, responsible for the final review of high-profile corporate content.

What’s the most common localization mistake that you see?

The transcription of and heavy use of American slang in all communications and messaging.

What skills do you think are important in LQA?

In addition to core language and trans-cultural skills: Humility, thoroughness, sense of humor, awareness of current affairs, and a keen eye for detail.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

What do you love the most about your job?

Pride in being the last in the chain of international messaging for the finished content worldwide.

Alice Lee

Bio: I have done QA testing since 2002. I started as a Software/Hardware QA tester, then worked as a Chinese QA tester at Intel. In 2006, I became a Localization QA Lead, managing several projects and coordinating resources during QA testing phases.

Alice on LinkedIn

If you meet someone at a party and they ask you what you do, how do you describe your job?

This is how I would describe it: I work with a localization company. The job we are doing is to make sure products like websites or software that are going to be marketed in other countries are translated correctly, function as expected and are user friendly in the local environment.

What’s the most common localization mistake that you see?

The most common localization mistake that I have seen is the date format and name order in Asian languages.

What skills do you think are important in LQA?

Fluent in English, intermediate computer skills and detail-oriented

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

The scope and budget. How to stay within the budget and maintain a high quality.

What do you love the most about your job?

Finding good bugs is what I love the most about my job.

A team of excellent localization QA testers is essential. The QA team catches last minute inconsistencies, language problems, functionality issues and other items that may have fallen through the cracks.

They are the guardians of quality, and make sure your content is ready to reach the eyes of customers all around the globe.

Sign Up for our Localization Testing Services

Localization testing is an integral step of any localization task—whether it’s for web, mobile, or software.

Our localization team will perform functional, linguistic, and cosmetic validation to test your product inside out.

Our goal: to catch the bugs before your users do.

Contact us today to learn more.

Related Posts

Summa Linguae uses cookies to allow us to better understand how the site is used. By continuing to use this site, you consent to this policy.

Learn More