With the widespread proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, it’s not surprising to see that the mobile app industry continues to thrive. In 2021, the number of mobile app downloads across the world rose to 230 billion with consumer spending reaching $170 billion. In order to claim a share of this multi-billion dollar industry, global app developers must make sure, among other things, that their app is accessible to the largest number of people possible – in any location, any language. But successfully adapting a product to a different language and locale is not without challenges. This is where localization testing comes into play. 

We asked Testlio QA Test Lead and localization testing expert, Putu Kusumawardhani, to share some insights and practical tips including:

  • A framework for a good localization strategy
  • Best practices for a successful localization testing process
  • An example of how a Testlio client localized its offering during the COVID-19 pandemic
About Putu:

With over 8 years of experience working in the hybrid roles of Product Owner + Test Lead in Jakarta and Singapore-based companies, Putu has an extensive understanding of the software testing life cycle. She’s also an ISTQB Certified Tester.

Testlio Test Lead Putu shares insights on localization testing

What is localization testing and why is it Important?

Localization testing makes sure that user experiences are optimized for every region – in other words, it validates how well the product’s features are modified and adapted to meet users’ cultural, social, visual and linguistic needs in a particular location.

In today’s crowded global market, localization is seen as a competitive advantage to increase customer acquisition and retention. However, delivering a flawless app experience across different markets, while retaining the essence of the brand/product, can be challenging.

Therefore, it is important to factor in localization early in the development stage so that when necessary, the software’s UX and UI can easily be adapted for a target market. Since oftentimes businesses might not have the internal capacity to perform product localization and localization testing, app developers should consider involving a localization partner as early as possible in the process to minimize costs.

Ultimately, consumers expect a native feel (reflecting their language, culture, lifestyle, and values) from a localized product – otherwise, they will quickly uninstall the app.

Related: Why Localization Testing is About More than Language

Localization testing checklist

What elements should be considered for a successful localization strategy?

Here are my 5 tips to build a framework for a solid localization strategy:

1. Define the countries/regions you aim to localize
  • Users’ characteristics: including product usage patterns as well as users’ geodemographics and attitudes
  • Special seasons/public holidays
  • Existing competitor characteristics: including user base and user growth as well as product format (language, wording layout, and content)
  • Your own product characteristics along with the adjustments needed for localization
2. Define the variables you are going to localize
  • For content localization, you need to go deeper than the language itself. You need to understand: local regulations and law, local content interests, as well as local social, religious, and political norms
  • For product localization, you need to make sure you maintain quality throughout the whole process
3. Define when you are going to implement localization for your product
  • It pays to remember that this is not a one-time effort but a continuous process that involves improving the quality of your localized product
  • Furthermore, you need to determine if you are going  to implement a localized marketing strategy
4. Define KPIs

Here are some KPIs to help measure the impact of your localization efforts:

  • % on-time deliveries = Total deliveries on time or early/Total deliveries
  • % localization-related complaints = total localization-related complaints/Total complaints
  • % localization-related bugs = total localization bugs/total bugs
  • % fixed-localization = total passed localization bugs/ total bugs
  • % failed-localization = total failed localization bugs/total bugs
  • Number of users after localization is implemented
5. Define budget and stakeholders
  • Determine the project manager and team members for the localization project, including the technical team.
  • If you don’t have the capacity to perform localization testing in-house, look for a software testing company such as Testlio, that can give you access to an expert network of global testers covering over 150+ countries.

What are some best practices for localization testing?

My best practices for localization testing can be summed up into three main points:

1. Test as early as possible

The earliest you do the localization, the lower the cost will be.

2. Test with competent localized testers

To make sure your product is ready for release around the world, you must test it with local testers skilled in every aspect of localization testing: from language and culture changes, swiping and hardware functionality, to the interplay between translation and UI.

3. Monitor your KPIs

Measure your user growth, analyze existing users, and linguistic-related complaints.

Testlio testers are skilled on all aspect of localization testing

What is your 9-point checklist for localization testing?

Here’s my checklist when performing localization testing:

Point 1: Style guide

What is the product’s tone of voice and language style?

Point 2: Glossaries 

What is the key terminology that needs to be translated?

Point 3: Product or feature specification

What are the requirements?

Point 4: Languages and locations

What languages and locations need to be tested? 

Point 5: Product platform 

Will the testing be performed on a mobile platform, desktop, or AR?

Point 6: Functional/UI testing scope
  • No truncation or overlapping of texts
  • Font size is correct across the application
  • Product layout is consistent with its English version
  • Existing functionality is working even though the language is not in English
Point 7: Location-related testing scope
  • Content of the product is correct based on the region
  • Phone number format, date, time, decimal number format follow language/region standards
  • Colors are appropriate according to local customs.
  • Currency format, temperature format follow language/region standards
  • Flags and countries name are correct
  • Event-based marketing is triggered in the correct season and showing correct context according to the local customs
Point 8: Linguistic testing scope
  • Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct
  • Unnatural translation and idiomatic testing (checking if the app tone is in line with Style guidelines) are checked
  • Translation consistency across the product is correct
  • RTL (right to left for Arabic and Urdu Language) format is correct
  • Improvement suggestions from testers to the product
Point 9: Localization impact results
  • Impact of localization testing before and after testing is done, in terms of conversion rates, user growth, and localization-related complaints.

Can you share an example of how Testlio has helped a client with their localization needs?

The most remarkable case happened just shortly after the WHO declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic. In response, one of Testlio’s clients – a top three global social media and photo-sharing app – elected to use its platform to deliver important health information to its users.

More specifically, in an effort to help ease their users’ anxiety, our client wanted to add COVID-19 related content, encouraging social distancing, hand washing and avoiding face touching. This content had to be localized in more than 40 languages over a short period of time. In just two days, Testlio testers in various countries swarmed the application and provided suggestions for improvement. The client was able to roll out the localized content very quickly and the result was amazing – users worldwide were appreciative because it showed that the company cared about their well-being. Consequently, our client saw its user base grow by a whopping 35%.
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