What is localization testing? Definition, How-to, and Use Cases A quick internet search provides examples of marketing, brand, and UX issues when localization testing is treated as an afterthought. Clairol marketed a curling iron as a “mist stick,” even though mist is slang for manure in German. Colgate offered a toothpaste in France named “Cue.” Alas, that was also the name of a French adult magazine. UI in America is radically different than UI in Germany – something XBOX learned when releasing a new German dashboard that drew outrage. When entering an international market, it’s critical to have QA pros that understand translation nuances, culture and customs, and technology preferences of each location you target. While we can laugh about these mistakes now, it’s never funny if it happens to you. If you don’t perform localization testing as part of your software testing strategy, it can be more than embarrassing: it can lead to rollout failure in local markets. What is localization testing? Localization testing analyzes and validates that an application fits a specific target audience’s linguistic, cultural, and other needs. It often involves more than just linguistic translation and may include adjustments to numeric/date/time formats, currency/keyboard usage, sorting, symbols/icons/colors, and cultural references to avoid misunderstandings or insensitivity. Localization is the process of ensuring an application looks and feels right to the target user. Localization testing verifies an application’s functionality and usability in a specific region. It checks native UI, language, currency, date & time formatting to meet the standards of that country. It must use language correctly and align with cultural norms. Users who download an app or software expect it to make sense: in their native language, with their native currency, and without wonky UI issues. Failing to test these things can lead to costly misinterpretation and rejection of an app or product. They may reject it and find an alternative if it doesn’t reflect their culture, language, or lifestyle. Advantages of localization testing Accommodating local cultural and linguistic preferences is crucial for enhancing user engagement and improving adoption and long-term retention rates. By understanding and respecting the unique cultural and linguistic nuances of different regions, companies can tailor their products or services to better resonate with local audiences. This approach not only fosters a sense of inclusivity but also demonstrates a commitment to meeting users’ specific needs and expectations in different markets. Moreover, deploying to new countries or regions presents opportunities to diversify revenue streams by exploring different verticals or pricing models. Companies can tap into new customer bases by expanding into untapped markets and increasing their market share. Additionally, ensuring global brand consistency in tone, voice, imagery, messaging, and functionality is essential for establishing a stronger brand identity worldwide. Consistency across different markets helps to build trust and recognition among consumers, creating a unified brand experience that transcends geographical boundaries. This cohesive brand identity reinforces the company’s values, strengthens customer loyalty, and positions it as a reliable and recognizable brand on a global scale. Disadvantages of Localization Testing When it comes to localizing content and UI components to another language, there is a potential for introducing bugs and errors that can affect the functionality and usability of a product for all users. Translating and adapting content and UI elements to a different language requires attention to detail, and any missteps can have detrimental consequences. However, finding domain experts and assembling a dedicated testing team to address localization issues adequately can be challenging, time-consuming, and costly. It is crucial to ensure that the localized versions of the product maintain consistency in the user experience compared to the original version, which may require regular and meticulous testing throughout the development process. This ensures that the localized versions meet the same standards and provide a seamless experience to users. However, balancing resources between developing new features and introducing localized counterparts can be delicate, as any arising issues may result in significant rollbacks and delays. It is essential to allocate resources wisely and prioritize developing new features and the localization process to maintain efficiency and minimize potential setbacks. How to Perform Localization Testing Building a solid framework for localization testing should start with outlining four key components: define the countries and regions you want to cover, define the variables you will test for, commit to continuous testing, and define your KPIs. To ensure your product is ready for release, you must utilize testers who understand localization testing and the local culture of your target region. Some things are highly nuanced and easy to miss if it’s not your native language or local environment. It’s also about more than just language. Localization testing should encompass functional, language, linguistic, and translation testing. Test Cases for Localization Testing Functional and UI Localization Testing UI localization, including issues like overlapping elements or truncations App functionality, such as matching translations to UI functions “Normal” sized buttons Untranslated text Validation of inclusivity in design Language Testing Grammar, spelling, and punctuation Currency, symbols, icons, pricing, and payments Right-to-left language (RTL) evaluation Client-specific app terminology Linguistic and Translation Testing Unnatural or inaccurate translations Consistency of language across the app Idiomatic testing, ensuring the right tone and relevance Staffing an all-star testing team For a successful global release, thorough localization testing is crucial. Test with local experts in all localization aspects, including language and cultural differences, swiping and device functionality, and the interaction between translated UI and functionality. Many companies today have embraced distributed testing as a valid and faster way to get products to market – without the hassle of staffing quickly with each new country/region. With a distributed testing team, you gain accurate localization from native speakers that will understand the nuances of language and images. You can also achieve faster results by testing across multiple time zones. Testlio provides global localization testing experts who are fully vetted and fluent in functional, UI, language, linguistic, and translation localization. With access to thousands of real devices and operating systems, you get experienced testers to help identify issues and report even subtle language, cultural, technical, and inclusivity factors that can impact your success. Automated localization testing Automated localization testing streamlines the testing process and ensures the accuracy and consistency of a localized application across multiple languages. While adhering to internationalization (I18N) and localization (L10N) practices, a language-agnostic core version of the application is developed. Here’s a breakdown of the critical aspects of how to automate localization testing: Building and maintaining extendable test scripts Automated localization testing involves creating test scripts that can be easily extended to support multiple languages. These test scripts validate the application’s functionality, language-specific content, and UI in different languages. Language-specific requirements, such as translations and localized content, are managed through properties files read at runtime to display the interface in the selected language. Test scripts only need to be written for the base version and can be executed for all supported languages. Consistency in element names or IDs To ensure automation scripts interact with elements accurately regardless of the selected language in internationalized applications, element names or IDs must remain consistent across languages. When testing web elements such as text fields, radio buttons, dropdowns, checkboxes, hyperlinks, pop-ups, and list boxes, unique identifiers that are independent of the language being used should be present. Efficiency in automation scripts When web elements are not language-specific and have consistent identifiers, highly efficient automation scripts can be created for internationalized applications. These scripts validate the application’s functionality, perform data entry and manipulation, and verify localized content across different languages. By leveraging automation, businesses can save time and resources while ensuring the quality and consistency of the localized application.