Localization Insights
Localization Insights

Localization Testing: Best Practices and Benefits

Planning on introducing a product to a new market? You’ll need to be more ambitious than translating content from one language to another. Along with linguistic differences, different cultures have varying ideologies, cultural norms, and legal frameworks. All of these and more need to be considered when localizing a product for a new market. 

However, quality assurance can become an issue during the localization process. Thankfully, localization testing provides a convenient solution. Below, we’ll explore this testing technique in more detail and take a look at the benefits of performing a localization test. 

What is localization testing?

Localization testing is a broad term that can relate to any number of tests designed to determine the suitability of a product for a new market. Products and content are adapted to meet the exacting demands of a new language and culture, with the localization testing process a critical step in ensuring success in a new region. 

In the case of software testing, a suite of localization testing tools is used to ensure cultural and linguistic relevance. Website layouts and app designs may need to be heavily reconfigured to accommodate language changes, different audience preferences, and regulatory compliance. 

However, the process goes beyond the production of localized content. Localization also involves UI testing and general functionality, while the user interface is retooled for new consumers. This ensures a user experience and features that feel as though were designed exclusively with users in a particular location in mind. 

When’s the right time for localization testing? 

It’s never too early to begin testing localization. Ideally, it should be part of the development lifecycle from the start. While localization can be carried out retroactively, this can be a complicated way to approach things. For example, translating content from English into something like Urdu isn’t particularly straightforward. Many translations are going to produce significant design challenges and development hurdles. 

As well as being given top priority, localization testing should be a regular exercise. Preferably, testing should continue long into the development state and pre-launch stages, continuing on until after you’ve released your product. All manner of bugs can present themselves at the worst time, with regular localization testing giving you the best chance of nipping them in the bud. 

Localization testing best practices: an essential checklist 

One of the most important things to remember when performing localization testing is to take your time. You’ll need a significant amount of resources to undertake testing effectively and these can’t be sourced overnight. Market research, the cornerstone of any successful localization project, is another part of the process that can’t be rushed. Only when sufficient information about target users has been compiled can test cases be designed. 

Accurate translations can be produced and proofread quickly enough. However, attempting to navigate cultural nuances is a different matter entirely. Depending on how wildly different the two cultures are, it can take a while to separate potentially offensive material from content sidelined for production. It’s a process made even more complex if testers aren’t members of the same culture you’re looking to target. 

Start testing early 

We’ve already touched upon the importance of early testing. Leaving testing until after development is over is a definite no-go. Should the worst happen and issues arise, undertaking translation work, rearranging text, removing product features, and other tasks can’t be realistically done at a late stage. Rather than cut corners and deliver a second-rate product with last-minute changes, make sure you’re leaving your development team with ample time to perform the changes you need. 

Embrace automation

If you’re worried that localization testing is taking too long, you can think about embracing automation to assist human testers. Key actions can be automated, while change approvals mean you can be confident nothing slips through that shouldn’t. 

Don’t forget about device fragmentation 

Device fragmentation can prove a real headache for localization projects, with users relying on all manner of device and operating system combinations. Take the mobile browser market as an example. While a significant number of people use Chrome and Safari, these are just two of the dozens of browsers available. It’s down to the developer to ensure websites, software, and apps are fully optimized for as many device and browser configurations. 

Key areas of focus for quality assurance 

There are many localization test areas you’ll need to focus on, although some are more important than others. First and foremost, you’ll need to prioritize language testing. Checking the accuracy of all textual elements is the only way to single out potential errors. At this stage, it’s also a good idea to ask testers for feedback on tone and more nuanced language aspects. 

Formatting is another important aspect to concentrate on. Date and time formats, currencies, numbers, and other formatting conventions vary considerably from country to country. Make sure you’re using the right ones for your target market. Additionally, some markets may have specific requirements when it comes to the placement of user interface elements as well as input methods. Make sure you’re providing the end user with their preferred option. 

Adapting content to cultural conventions can be difficult, however, it’s a key aspect of localization and deserves attention. This can cover everything from how names are displayed to connotations of color and sensitivities surrounding certain imagery. Avoid any embarrassing faux pas or worse by delivering content that’s in line with expectations and cultural standards. 

There’s also legal and regulatory compliance to think about. Products need to be tested for compliance with local regulations, alongside other legal requirements such as disclaimers or specific labeling requirements. Any supporting materials such as user manuals and other documentation should also be captured by the localization testing process. 

Benefits of localization testing 

There are many reasons to invest in localization. For starters, it will dramatically improve the user experience. When you adapt a product, whether that means translating textual elements or undertaking more comprehensive localization, you increase its functionality for the end user. With localization testing, you can create customer-focused content that not only speaks their language but seems as though it was tailored for them. 

Have you outgrown your current market? Many times, the only opportunities for growth are to think beyond borders and expand into new territories. Localization allows you to do this, enabling you to reach new markets in different countries. When deployed successfully, it can significantly boost your market share. With localization testing, preliminary research will help you identify the most lucrative markets to tap into. 

What’s more, localization can help businesses get a jump on the competition. If your key competitors aren’t offering localized products in a particular market, the fact that you are putting you at a significant competitive advantage. 

Localization testing also helps you prevent misunderstandings. Sometimes, these scenarios are nothing more than embarrassing hiccups. However, if it seems as though you’ve disregarded cultural sensitivities, the damage to your brand can be irreparable. 

Localization testing is also scalable. As your reach widens to include more territories, you’ll develop more experience with localization testing itself. This will allow you to undertake localization far more efficiently while being able to sidestep the usual pitfalls that befall other customers. 

Are there any downsides to localization testing?

While there are many reasons to embrace localization testing, the process isn’t without a few bugbears. The biggest of these is that testing can delay your time to market. Market research takes time while adapting content for new languages and cultures is no small order. Delays will vary depending on the complexity of the localization project, but it’s an acceptable cost considering the benefits. 

There’s also the cost of localization testing to consider. If you want to deliver the best possible results, you’ll need to invest in top-flight talent, from experienced translators to developers. However, considering the results, this is once again considered a fair trade-off. 

How BLEND can help with localization testing 

If you’re localizing content for a new market, you really need to be committed to ongoing localization testing. In an ideal world, testing should be part of the process, right from the beginning. Not only does it ensure translated content is as accurate as possible, it significantly improves the user experience and helps you avoid any costly legal missteps. 

Planning on undertaking a localization project? Why not see how BLEND can help you? Our single-source platform streamlines the localization process, allowing you to quickly build experienced teams of vetted professionals. What’s more, with automated workflows and custom APIs, scaling your localization efforts is simple. Thinking about targeting multiple markets? With 25,000 linguists working in over 120 languages, the world is your oyster. 

Want to talk localization with the experts? Get in touch with the team today.

author post

Fouad Habash

As BLEND’s Localization Solutions Engineer, Fouad is a seasoned expert in translation technologies, including TMS, CAT tools, AI and MT. With over 14 years of industry experience, Fouad ensures our clients receive the best and most efficient localization processes.


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