Localization Testing: An Introductory Guide

Last Updated July 6, 2023

localization testing

Localization testing is the process of verifying software and product behavior, accuracy, and suitability for specific locations and regions.

Localization testing is a crucial step in ensuring the success of global software applications, products, and websites.

It involves verifying that all the elements function correctly and meets the linguistic, cultural, and regulatory requirements of target markets.

In this guide, we’ll explore the key aspects of localization testing and provide a step-by-step approach to help you effectively test your innovations for localization.

Understanding Localization

Localization goes beyond broad translation.

You go beyond adapting linguistic elements to incorporate the cultural and regional preferences of a specific target market.

So, whatever you’re putting out there needs to seem like it was made with each potential user in mind, not as an afterthought after a North American release.

The goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the target market’s language, date and time formats, currency, measurement units, and any other cultural or regional specifications that impact user experience.

And after that’s all done, but prior to launch, comprehensive testing must be done.

How to Prepare for Localization Testing

There are several elements to the process, including a few to set up beforehand.

1. Develop a Localization Testing Strategy:

Start by defining your goals, target markets, and timelines for localization testing.

You also need to identify the key participants – project managers, translators, localization engineers, and testers – and establish effective communication channels.

Then, determine the scope of testing, including functional, linguistic, cosmetic, and cultural aspects.

2. Test Planning and Resource Allocation

Allocate appropriate resources, including hardware, software, and human resources, for localization testing.

Then, create a test plan that outlines the testing approach, test cases, test data, and tools to be used.

Additionally, be sure to define and create test environments that mirror the target market’s configurations.

What does that mean exactly? Well, test environments should mirror the target market’s hardware, software, and network configuration.

This includes testing the application’s performance under different network speeds, varying levels of connectivity, and potential latency issues.

In other words, you need to test in a way that accurately represents how it will be used by real people and perform in the real-world scenarios.

3. Bug Tracking and Reporting

Be sure to record any bugs or issues that come up during localization testing in a central tracking system.

Include relevant information like steps to reproduce, screenshots, and the impact on functionality or user experience.

Communicate these issues to the development team in a way that keeps everyone up to date.

Stages of Localization Testing

Linguistic Testing

This stage is all about ensuring accurate translation and proper functionality of localized text.

All the written content must read well and as though it’s specifically for the target audience.

Verify that text expansion or contraction doesn’t affect the layout or cause truncation. Test the software with different languages, character sets, and alphabets. Finally, pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and language-specific issues.

Functional Testing

The simple question here is “does it work?”

Validate the functional aspects of the software in the localized version. Test features like input validation, error handling, user interface, navigation, data manipulation, and compatibility with regional settings.

And don’t forget to check that date, time, and number formats display correctly and work seamlessly.

Cosmetic Testing

How does it look?

Evaluate the visual elements of the software for consistency and appropriateness in the target market.

Check for localized graphics, icons, colors, and layouts.

The cultural significance and symbolism attached to colors can vary across different societies and may not always align.

For example, a color that may not resonate the same way in China as it does in the United States is white. While white is often associated with purity, innocence, and weddings in Western cultures, it carries different connotations in Chinese culture. There it’s traditionally associated with death, mourning, and funerals.

So, verify that the user interface aligns with cultural preferences and doesn’t offend or confuse users.

Cultural Testing

Does it feel authentic to the target market?

Accordingly, consider cultural sensitivities, customs, and taboos..

Make sure that the software complies with local regulations and legal requirements.

Undeniably, you’ll lose potential customers if the content, symbols, images, and references are culturally appropriate and don’t cause offense or misinterpretation.

Usability Testing

Is the user experience optimal?

Assess the usability of the localized software by conducting user tests with representative customers from the target market.

Be sure to collect feedback on the user interface, user experience, navigation, and overall satisfaction. More importantly, use that feedback to make your offering even better.

Compatibility and Internationalization Testing

Does your product or software work seamlessly across different operating systems, browsers, and devices?

Here’s your chance to find out.

Test the software with various regional settings, such as time zones, date formats, and language preferences.

Furthermore, assess the software’s scalability and its ability to handle larger data sets.

Regression Testing

Has testing thrown anything off?

Perform regression testing to ensure that the localization process hasn’t introduced any defects or caused issues in previously tested functionality.

Localization regression testing focuses on verifying that the software behaves correctly after updates, modifications, or bug fixes have been made. It aims to identify and address any issues or regressions that develop during the localization process or subsequent changes to the software.

During localization regression testing, testers typically perform a variety of tests, including functional tests, linguistic tests, cosmetic tests, and layout tests.

They verify that the translated text fits properly within the user interface elements, that localized content is accurately displayed, and that any new or modified functionality works correctly in the localized version.

So, validate that all the existing features, including those not directly related to localization, still function as expected in the localized version.

Finding Balance in the Localization Testing Process

While manual testing is still essential to evaluate the cultural appropriateness and user experience aspects, you can leverage automation tools and scripts to streamline repetitive and time-consuming localization testing tasks.

Summa Linguae specializes in technology-enabled localization solutions. We combine the best of what human intelligence and machine learning have to offer to bring your business to more people around the world—quickly, efficiently, and affordably.

Taking an outcome-based approach, we tailor a language solution to meet your objectives. A fit-for-purpose strategy that simplifies even the most complex situations.

Our customers see cost reduction, more efficient operation, and experience outstanding customer service.

Download out localization testing checklist and contact us today for the best localization services.

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