Sometimes, the biggest problem with localization is not a technical glitch but an outlook. Far too often, localization is an afterthought, taken up only at the end of product development. And then localization testing comes as an after-afterthought. This attitude can have serious consequences that are difficult to reverse.
There are two big risks of running localization testing only at the last moment:
- Brand damage
Delays can quickly snowball in the context of localization. You don’t want to find out something doesn’t work the day before people are counting on you to launch. Problems can reproduce themselves in the final stages of localization, so what was a single fix if it had been addressed during development may now require troubleshooting in each of your target languages. Nothing will take the celebration out of your launch date faster.
Brand damage is hard to come back from, and it can happen in an instant with translation errors. Quality management really isn’t so far out of reach with a strong localization strategy. And there is a lot at stake for your brand’s reputation and success around the world as you break into new markets. Translation errors often stem from a lack of context during translation. The great news is that linguists can play a central role in your translation QA. When they have the chance to see their work in context, it can inspire more accurate translations crafted specifically for the target audience.
Done properly, localization testing can be integrated into product development from concept to deployment to minimize linguistic, user interface, and functional problems. Refer to the localization testing checklist below for steps to get started with now.
A Localization Testing Checklist for Your Product
Applied comprehensively, localization testing can help ensure the successful launch of an app or website. There are specific steps you can take to implement effective quality management:
✔ Start with a design review
Work with a localization team or vendors to identify elements of your application that need to be adapted for local markets. Elements that can vary include name and address, measuring conventions, and payment systems. An experienced localizer can anticipate these during the planning phase so you have plenty of time to do the deep work of internationalizing the application properly. At the very least, you may need to establish relations with local payment vendors in advance.
✔ Test the prototype
It’s easy to run some preliminary tests for text expansion and other issues, so you can avoid major localization mistakes in the long run. Once you have a basic design prototype, it is useful to load in different languages using machine translation so you can gauge how different languages will fill the available real estate or create problems with the layout—such as with right-to-left (RTL) languages.
If you work with a localization vendor with continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) capabilities, you can load your terminology into a translation memory (TM) and complement it with machine translation during initial testing. This gives you human translations for key UI and machine translation for the rest as an ideal way to QA your real estate early on with minimal resource expenditure.
✔ Get the terminology right
Taking advantage of your terminology tools can go a long way toward consistent translations over time. If you have in-market teams or stakeholders, they can be incredibly valuable QA assets. Task them with approving terminology, especially your key UI terminology, and start growing your glossaries as soon as possible. When you set up UI terminology, be sure to provide your localizers with any maximum character restrictions so they can make the best use of the real estate.
If you don’t have in-market stakeholders to do the review, work with your localization vendor to develop comprehensive UI glossaries. Provide translators with design specs, summaries of what the software is supposed to do, and brand guidelines so they fully understand the context and can capture your unique flavor. Give translators access to builds of the software, and let them play around and experience the app so they’ll understand precisely what they’re translating.
✔ Create a test script and road map
When you have a build that is close to final, let your localization team run a test. By now, you already have strings localized and available in a staging environment. You know your product best, so you can tell them exactly where to go, step by step, as they test the localized user experience firsthand. In other words, you’re writing a QA test script: where to click, what to input, and what options to select. Your testers can visit all of the key screens in your software and review them for linguistic quality and functional bugs. It is not uncommon for localized strings to reveal underlying functional bugs that were a non-issue in the source language.
✔ Solidify your test environment
Especially for mobile testing, this step can be tough because emulators are notorious for not working correctly. Lining testers up with the right combination of device and OS for testers can be challenging and expensive. An effective alternative is to produce screenshots for the localized builds following your test script and supply these to your localizers. With this solution, you control the scope and expense of testing, and you have a reliable way to ensure accountability and communication. And in this way, testing can be consistent across all languages.
✔ Track bugs
Be sure you have a good tracking system where everyone can log bugs. With a clear system in place, you’ll be able to assign your internal engineers to address functional bugs and alert your localization vendor to linguistic issues. Software like Jira or Bugzilla is great for this. Be sure you plan for at least two rounds of work—one to test and uncover bugs and a second to verify that the fixes are complete and working well.
✔ Give translation memory the attention it needs
Makes sure your TMs are being updated with all fixes. It would be a pity to do all that work only to have the same errors appear the next time you ping the TM to create a new build. Within a centralized platform, updates are easy for collaborators to implement, so there’s no excuse not to take advantage of this level of consistency and quality management.
Start Off Right with a Strong Localization Partner
The most reliable way to implement these steps is to engage with a capable localization partner that’s ready to streamline management and testing of your product from the start. At Bureau Works, our new generation platform contains a number of exclusive features that contribute to effective and convenient testing:
- Our terminology tool lets you link an image URL, so linguists can see a screenshot or a button image while translating. They have better context for accuracy and creative license.
- Our image QA tool allows in-platform markup of images and tracking of fixes. We use this tool for screenshot QA too as a solution to your test environment pain point.
- Our video QA tool can be used for screen captures to produce a video of someone clicking through your tool in each target language for testing purposes.
- Our command line interface (CLI) allows you to populate your application with machine translation for any language—any time and as many times as you want. So, you can build and rebuild your product, leaning on the master TM for quality management of truth.
When the available tools can ensure localization success, use them. The scope of testing represented in this localization checklist significantly increases the likelihood of your product’s successful launch and long-term health and evolution.
Bureau Works provides continuous automated localization services that include translation and comprehensive quality assurance. Seamless API/CLI integration makes it possible for all stakeholders to access material and perform their functions promptly and effectively. How can this localization testing checklist help launch your success? Contact our team to find out.
Written by Aaron Schliem
Aaron is the chief marketing officer for Bureau Works. He also loves to tickle the ivories and is a wiz at designing cocktails.