WHAT IS LOCALIZATION TESTING?
Localization testing is a process that checks whether a product is customized to the language and geographic location of its target audience. This is done to ensure that there are no mistranslations, the content is properly organized and the product works as expected for the chosen target audience.
Imagine that a public transport network wants to expand its business to a Spanish-speaking country and localize its mobile network app. If it doesn’t specify the country and region, the translation for “bus” can end up being autobús, bus, camión, colectivo or even guagua! Although all of these options are correct in Spanish, they will vary according to geographic location.
Localization testing is a common practice for software: apps, video games, e-learning platforms, among others. The main goal is to ensure that the software behaves as expected in different situations and languages.
Several aspects must be considered before doing this verification:
Is your product global?
Globalizing your business is a huge step, and a decision to be made with caution. Research the target country, its culture and customs, and make sure that your product can actually be localized. For example, there is no point in opening a snowplough dealership in Lisbon, but for mainland Portugal’s highest city of Guarda, this could be a good choice. Specify not only the country, but the region within the country where you want to expand.
What languages are spoken in the target market/country?
This decision depends directly on the previous step. There may be several official languages within the same country, like in Switzerland, and even if there’s only one, there are linguistic variations from region to region.
What exactly is checked?
Ideally, the correct answer would be everything. But what is everything? Look at the two forms below, one in European Portuguese (Lisbon) and the other in Brazilian Portuguese (Brasília). Can you spot the differences?
Localization testing is much more than just checking the translation’s quality: it’s confirming the software’s complete adaptation to the target audience. Regional specifications such as date formats, licences or even the meanings of colours are all things that must be checked. Mistakes of this sort are common in measurements and currencies. For instance, an online store must show prices in the various currencies where the website is located in order to provide a better user experience.
After everything written has been perfected, the appearance comes next. Generally speaking, the same sentence will have different lengths in different languages, so it is important to check the software’s entire layout and design. In addition to the space occupied by the text, everything must be checked from an audiovisual standpoint in terms of the quality of images, sound and captioning. This will avoid images or videos with text in a language other than that preferred by the user.
Finally comes the functional part, i.e. all hyperlinks, forms and buttons must be tested to confirm that they are opening their desired destination. It is essential that CTAs (calls to action) work properly. When clicking on “Request a Quote” or “Buy”, the user should easily get what they want. A sale cannot be lost because of a wrong link. Even a mandatory postal code field can become an obstacle to a sale if it doesn’t allow the right number of digits – for example, postal codes have five digits in France, while in Portugal they have seven.
This process is complex, and must be done by a specialized company. Choose a company with a past portfolio in your area of business, and make sure that nothing goes untested.