Localization QA and localization testing are complex subjects, with an incredible degree of nuance and subtlety. This article will describe what “localization testing” can mean; and our best practices for how to undertake it in general. For details about l10n testing in its strategic context, check out our localization strategy playbook.
Localization testing is any test to determine that your product is suitable for a particular locale or region. We’re going to talk about this in two categories: (i) quality testing as part of a localized release cycle; and (ii) test-driven localization product strategy and changes where we include both "opinion" surveys and "factual" testing into a blended appraisal of a local product experience.
Many businesses use “localization testing” to refer exclusively to testing the “localized” attributes of certain software. (I.e. do the changes work for local users rather than does the software work for local users.) There, the testing can incorporate everything from translation accuracy; to local user responses; to usabliity and product workflows matching user contexts; to UI issues and errors which translations can create.
Therefore even in its minor form, localization testing can be difficult to get right, and involves a wide variety of testing techniques and approaches (which is where Global App Testing can help…)
Businesses use jargon differently; here’s how we’re using ours.
As part of pre-release QA, the focus of localization testing tends to be the localization itself, i.e. the software adaptations which have been made for a particular locale. That is what we’ll examine in the first half of this article.
The following areas are test areas for localization:
Localization heads of and managers take lots of different approaches to localization.
It is harder to do LQA in-house because even talented translators can only speak a few languages and it is not possible to be a cultural expert in everything. In smaller businesses, we have heard of several corner-cutting techniques to check translation quality: such as showing copy to individuals who are linguistic natives of the translation subject, but who are not copy experts ("our accountant is French! She can check –"). Another thing which crops up is businesses automating swathes of translation to a poor standard leading to complaints from local users. With generative AI at the time of writing this (23rd June 2023) it seems likely that generative will play an enormous role in writing and quality-checking copy, but will create quality issues in the meantime.
Global App Testing offers crowdtesting, an innovative approach to software testing which routes tests to real users around the world; it’s a marketplace in the same way Uber would link you with a driver. The crowd provides a diverse pool of native speakers and cultural experts who can thoroughly test the localized content, identify linguistic and cultural issues, and validate the overall user experience. This approach allows for comprehensive testing across multiple locales, ensuring that the software meets the expectations and preferences of the target audience in different regions.
This article is being written in June 2023. LLMs and AI tools will not only transform translation, but is likely to transform LQA as well. Businesses should aim to automate their localization testing to the extent that it improves efficiency and accuracy without compromising the quality of the localized content. Language consistency checks, text expansion validation, and formatting verification, can be automated. Others; such as cultural adaptation and nuanced linguistic evaluation, continues to require human involvement. Striking the right balance between automation and human expertise ensures faster turnaround times, reduces costs, and improves scalability.
We also observe certain best practices within release-oriented LQA.
The second category of localization testing is testing to build globalization data; i.e. to understand your live product’s place in the market better. We’d encourage our playbook if you want to look at your localization strategy in detail here; or check out the speaker sin our webinar who talk in more detail about localization data around the world.
Test-driven localization product strategy leverages the invaluable insights gained from real users in their specific local contexts. By blending objective "functional" errors with usability questionnaires in real environments with local users, businesses can unlock a product strategy which puts a greater emphasis on the localization team and localization testing to deliver a better experience for local users.
Localization crowdtesting enables businesses to engage with international users during the product development stage. By testing prototypes with individuals from target regions, you can gather feedback on design, functionality, and user experience.
In the above episode of Global App Testing’s webinar “the Alignment”, one of our speakers – a former Head of Localization @ LinkedIn – described localization teams as existing in the wrong paradigm. Move from a “tail-end language support effort” to an “upfront strategic lever for global growth.” The lever available is to drive the product process towards inclusivity of users everywhere. It's tricky, though – all panellists agreed that "internal advocacy" is the hardest part of the job. That's where test-oriented development and product comes in.
Live products can face performance challenges when launched in new markets. Localization testing offers an effective solution for troubleshooting such issues. By leveraging the crowd's diverse geographic locations and device setups, businesses can identify performance bottlenecks specific to different regions.
An example of a recent product issue surfaced with the GAT methodology: one ecommerce business had significant operations into France was happy with the way that their product was going in France. But on closer investigation, it became clear that mastercard payments were not working on Android phones on their checkouts in that country. It was a bug which was simultaneously costing the business millions of £ per month, and which was going unnoticed in the complex metrics being managed by one team set to review europe.
By involving real users in France, the ecommerce business was able to identify the specific issue and understand its impact on the user experience.
If you’re ready to bring localization testing into your development process, why not let Global App Testing help? We will manage, execute and analyze localized test results to help you release high-quality software anywhere in the world and access new markets.
Visit our website for a personal demo, or a chat with one of our friendly team. You can also read more about localization testing and its challenges and solutions.
If you plan to expand into a new country, localization is crucial. Making sure that your product looks good and works smoothly in a specific region will lend you authority as well as popularity—leading to increased market share and revenue.
In a fast-moving world, most people don’t give second chances. Customers are more likely to stick with a localized product that works for them, and those who encounter linguistic or cultural gaffes will be put off. In short, better UX equals more sales.
Localization also offers scalability and a reduction in overall costs. Although the roll-out of initial testing might take time, putting this process in place will ensure that future releases and tests can be carried out much faster. This means you’ll be ready to move into new markets as soon as they emerge.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at how localization can boost your business by:
Cultural Conventions: This category focuses on testing the compliance with cultural norms, such as the correct representation of names, addresses, phone numbers, postal codes.
Enhanced User Experience: Localization allows companies to adapt their products, services, and content to the cultural, linguistic, and regional preferences of their target audience. By providing a localized experience, companies can improve user satisfaction and engagement. Users are more likely to engage with products and services that are presented in their native language, include familiar cultural references, and align with their local customs and expectations.
Increased Market Reach: Localization enables businesses to enter new markets and expand their customer base. By localizing their offerings, companies can overcome language barriers and cater to the unique needs and preferences of different regions. This opens up opportunities to tap into previously untapped markets and gain a competitive advantage over competitors who have not localized their products or services.
Improved Brand Perception: Localization demonstrates a company's commitment to its customers and their local communities. By investing in localization efforts, companies show that they value their customers' language, culture, and preferences. This can lead to a positive brand perception and build trust and loyalty among customers. On the other hand, neglecting localization can create a perception of indifference or lack of understanding, which may negatively impact a company's reputation.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Many countries have legal and regulatory requirements regarding language usage, content moderation, data privacy, and other aspects that companies must adhere to when operating in those markets. Localization ensures that companies comply with local laws and regulations, avoiding potential legal issues, penalties, or damage to their reputation.
Competitive Advantage: In today's global marketplace, companies face fierce competition. Localization can provide a significant competitive advantage by differentiating a company's products or services from those of its competitors. When a company offers localized solutions that cater to the unique needs of a specific market, it positions itself as a preferred choice among consumers who prioritize personalized experiences.