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Localization Testing: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

November 14, 2021

When you produce a product that will target several countries at once, it must be culturally and locally appropriate for each and every intended audience. But, doing this may not be as easy as it sounds, because errors, inaccuracies and misunderstandings occur during the production process. 

All this then leads to a negative perception of the end product, even if it technically works well. Localization testing is, therefore, used to avoid such problems.

So, what is localization testing?

In simple words, localization testing is used to check that an application’s content and UI complies with the language and cultural norms of the target audience. 

Typically, localization testing is not completed at the very beginning of a project, but rather towards the end. Why? Because managers creating such applications don’t always know what international markets they will be targeting. 

Let’s take a closer look at localization testing. 

Localization Testing In More Detail

The goal of localization testing is to eliminate UI and content related errors in a product before it reaches the intended audience.

It’s important to understand that localization testing is not just about making sure a product's content has been translated into another language correctly. It is in fact, also about making sure that the content present is culturally appropriate for each audience as well. A product must be adapted to suit various regions and cultural norms.

In short, when performing a localization test a tester will need to keep an eye on linguistics, checking for spelling, grammatical and stylistic errors. While also checking the display formats of time and currencies, and graphical elements of a product, for example.

So, the main goal of localization testing is to make sure that the final product looks "natural", and as if it was made just for that particular location and culture.

Why Should Testers Perform Localization Tests?

When creating a product that will be used globally it’s imperative to perform some sort of localization testing before it reaches the intended audience. Why? 

In doing so you can significantly increase customer loyalty to a product and brand. Consider this, even if the intended audience can speak English, for example, they would still prefer and appreciate having the product in their native language, and this has been confirmed by various studies.

Besides, if you don’t perform a localization test you may face issues that you didn’t even consider. 

For example, if you hire a professional translator to do some work for you, you may think that they’ve done their job well. But, when you insert this translated text into the product it may turn out that it does not correspond with the requirements of the application. Something like "Please insert ...", or the date format is different, ‘mm/dd/yyyy’ and ‘dd/mm/yyyy’ will pop up to warn the user. 

All of these issues are time consuming and annoying for the user. Plus, all of these problems could be fixed by doing some localization testing before sending the product out to market.

Here Are The Main Tasks Involved In Localization Testing:

  • Eliminating any errors that occur when transferring the translation text to the application’s interface. For example, is everything displayed correctly?
  • Confirmation of the text’s integrity. Sometimes parts of a text are lost during the transfer process.
  • Customer check. For example, the target audience should perceive the application as completely natural, appropriate and believable.

Here Are The Types Of Localization Tests You Can Do:

  • Language testing. Checking all linguistic and cultural norms are correct for the intended audience. The goal is to create a product that is culturally appropriate but still resembles the original product.
  • Cosmetic testing. Visual assessment of the finished result. The goal is to identify problems with fonts and their presentation, as well as word wraps.
  • Pseudo-localization testing. Assessment of product readiness. The goal is to identify problems and any inconsistencies before starting the testing phase.

Here Are The Main Stages Of Localization Testing:

  1. A team receives the files and requirements for a particular project from a customer.
  2. Testing and reporting are carried out.
  3. Corrections are made and clients are informed of what changes have been made.
  4. Regression testing. 

Here Are Some Errors That Testers Look Out For During Localization Testing: 

  • Absence of individual components
  • A lack of communication within individual blocks (in the general context)
  • Problems with fonts and encoding
  • Inconsistencies in the length of the original and translation scripts
  • Incorrect hyphenation
  • Incomplete fragments
  • Inadequate wording
  • Problems with data formats
  • Incorrect presentation of graphic components
  • Problems with audio files

In general, the results from localization tests are presented to development teams in a report. In this report teams receive a general description of the errors found, and alongside these errors are screenshots that show developers how to get to the errors (a chain of actions that leads to an error), if applicable.

Conclusion

So, as you can see, localization testing plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity and relevance of a product. Without such testing it can be more difficult to sell a product to various audiences around the world.


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