Build a Strategy for Localization Testing

Dan CagenDan Cagen
minute read

Here are questions your testers should address when launching a product in a different market

Localization testing is critical when businesses plan to release a software product internationally.

A software application will not succeed globally if it’s written for a U.S. audience only. Users want an application that adapts to their understanding and expectations.

Localization testing verifies that an application functions as expected when it’s used in multiple locales with varying languages, formatting preferences and cultural expectations.

So how do you actually create a strategy for localization testing to confirm that international audiences will respond well to your products?

Localization Testing Presents Challenges

Localization testing is complex, but is absolutely worth the effort when launching an application in more than one market, nation or region.

Localization testing includes functional testing that covers changes in:

  • Language
  • Date/time formatting
  • Currency
  • UI display

Localization testing also should consider cultural variances in the same language by region, as well as cultural differences with display items, descriptions and workflows.

For example, some areas that localization testing may need to consider include:

  • Number content (i.e., separators like commas vs. periods depending on the countries)
  • Phone number formatting
  • Postal address formatting
  • Measurements
  • Sorting
  • Styling (text direction, font, font size, color schemes)
  • Character encoding

Product teams should consider localization needs during the application design and planning stage. However, as we know, plans change as the project and business needs evolve. Be prepared to leave as much time as possible for localization testing at the end of the SDLC.

In many cases, an in-house QA team lacks the skills to cover all countries, at all levels. Some experienced QA testers can test localization for translations, UI text, currency and functional deviations — but checking for cultural understanding is difficult and complex.

For this type of localization testing, include it in your functional testing scenarios. Hiring a professional who has intimate knowledge of the culture to review the application prior to the regression testing stage is in your business’ best interest. There’s no better way to test cultural differences than by using someone native to the specific culture.

There’s no better way to test cultural differences than by using someone native to the specific culture.

Building the Localization Testing Strategy

Start by defining which countries or locales you plan to support. Use the points below to help determine your localization testing strategy.

  • What are the specific technical characteristics of each locale? What date/time format, currency, common locale standards or government regulations must be met?
  • What language translation are you going to use? Some languages translate with significant regional differences or dialects. You must define which specific language in the locale the application supports.
  • What adjustments are necessary to button size, data columns or other display items? Depending on the locales and language translations you support, this can significantly impact the UI display of the application.
  • Do your existing development or QA testing resources include native speakers, or people with a solid understanding of any of the locales you support? Having an existing knowledgeable resource helps the design and development remain on target.
  • Are there local laws or regulations that apply to the product? Consider hiring an experienced professional to ensure the application meets each locale’s regulatory requirements. It’s better to plan ahead for regulatory needs to minimize the impact to the application’s release plans.
  • Are there cultural, social, religious or political expectations in your locales to consider?
  • How does your database store different text translations and values? For example, the date/time format for each locale is an important consideration. Date/time formatting issues account for numerous defects in the application saving and processing of data.
  • How is the application configured to run in each locale? The configuration design determines how easily the application can be released consistently for each supported locale.

Traditional QA Testing

On top of all the specific questions relevant to localization, development teams still need to ensure they can execute the traditional functional and UI testing in the local markets.

QA testing for localization needs to include significant UI display testing to check for:

  • Truncated words or phrases
  • Consistency of font size and type
  • Layout and workflow altered to fit any locale expectations
  • The functionality within the application functions as expected regardless of locale
  • Data is saved as expected and retained between sessions
  • Collaborative testing and support for outside professional localization and translation testing services if needed

Getting Help for Localization Testing

Most organizations do not have the in-house resources to address all (or even most) of these concerns. Localization testing typically requires additional resources for text translation, understandable acronyms and cultural understanding. Having a professional localization service or expert review the application before release ensures the application is understood as expected.

Most organizations do not have the in-house resources to address all (or even most) of these concerns.

Applause tests globally and can provide in-market testers in any region you want to expand or work within. Applause’s testers do their work in the area they live in, and can ensure local understanding is translated as expected and that the application’s functionality serves the locale’s specific needs and is understood as intended.

Applause has helped provide localization testing for companies such as Paysafe (testing in 50 countries) and Benefit Cosmetics.

“When we were launching the website, we actually did the in-country testing [with Applause] for all the websites,” said Aruna Kapa, Benefit Cosmetics’s QA Engineer. “We have to test for 22 unique languages and 42 whole web sites with at least 12 different browser stacks. It’s not going to be done with a single, small team within the company …I tell everyone, if they have too many websites to test, too many languages to test, I definitely recommend Applause.”

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