Localization QA: Are you ready to be a global player?

You should definitely invest some time in localization testing first.

What is localization?

Localization is the translation of your software. I’m not merely talking about language, although that’s a big part. When looking at developing software for markets that you may not be familiar with, it’s extremely important to get someone on your team who understands the local culture. 

There are four pillars of localization: language, culture, location, and legal

Language is the most obvious aspect and is usually where most companies stop. But that’s not localization; it’s translation, and it ignores crucial societal and cultural factors.

There is also a crucial technical element to localization. Translating something is easy, but making software render non-ASCII characters is an entirely different process. 

While translating your app into the correct language is one thing, the product may display characters as the empty box that signals to a user that the program doesn’t know how to “read” a certain character. Something similar to “Conf□rm□ng here ple□se” It also signals that your Localization Quality Assurance (LQA) may have been rushed.

But should it be that way? If you could run above standard LQA, you’d be able to excite the other 75 percent of users looking for a seamless experience with your product.

Why localization?

Related: Your step-by-step mobile application testing process

Localization testing with Testlio for your global audience

Where should I start with localization?

That’s a simple answer. Start locally. 

That means if you’ve built your product with the English language, you need to make sure that the English you have in your product or website adheres to the meaning you’re trying to convey. If you’re a global-scale app that has been translated into 31 to 40 different languages, and you need to make a change to the “source” text (English), you’ll need to make 31 to 40 changes, just to make it a consistent experience.

It will save you money if you can work from the first language outwards. So spend some extra time getting it right, before starting any localization project. 

The second thing you’ll need to look at is the internationalization of your product. That means that your program will work as expected in a given language. Localization testing to ensure that your program can “read” and display special characters is the first step to internationalization… and a prerequisite to any localization project.

It’s also important to include language settings in the program itself and make the user experience as universal as possible. This will help later on when you need to make changes with your translators. 

Related: Framework for a successful localization strategy and best practices for localization testing

Translators are the key to localization

If you’re going to invest in localization, it’s worth looking at the quality of your translators. One of the bigger problems here for a developer is finding a trusted network of translators in the country they would like to enter. Most developers have an idea of the country they want to enter and why, but not necessarily the language expertise in-house to evaluate the quality of translations. 

This is where a third-party agency could help assure that quality translations are what you’re getting. It’s also important to invest in a quality agency. Some agencies will say that they have native speakers only, but do no due-diligence when allowing translators to offer their services. So do your homework and save yourself the headache later.

Related: Testlio Localization Testing

Having a native-speaking translator is a great first step, but it’s also important to employ a native-speaking editor as well. They’ll be able to check the quality of translations coming in and give your LQA team a head start. 

Native speakers will also point out where a word or phrase is “lost in translation”.  

For example, in the US we tend to use euphemisms to be polite. In other countries, words like “restroom” and “bathroom” translate directly to “the room where I take a rest” and the “room where one takes a bath”.  

A good question to ask your users, “does the app feel like it was created in your country?” If not, it may be time for mobile app location testing. 

Localization for localization’s sake

When a company decides to localize for a certain market, it’s important to look at the overall costs and investment needed. There are a lot of reputable agencies out there that can help with translations and your LQA project, so they’re worth looking at.

Localization can be a big win for companies that get it right, such as most Fortune 500 companies, but it’s important to look at the pitfalls and cost-saving measures you can take to make it a success.

About Testlio
Testlio is the leader in managed app testing. With robust client services teams, a network of thousands of testers around the world, and a comprehensive platform, we provide a suite of flexible, scalable, and on-demand testing solutions: end-to-end, usability, localization, functional, location, and more. Testlio clients include American Express, CBS, Hotels.com, Microsoft, and the NBA. Collectively, our clients power over 1 billion users. When apps must perform brilliantly, Testlio helps ensure world-class customer experiences. In any location. On any device. In any language. Visit www.testlio.com for a list of 14 testing capabilities.