Localization Testing

We have heard this many times about Localization Testing, we are an international brand! Or, we have international clients. So, how do these companies become international? Do they just sell their products to a wider audience? Yes, but something more than that as well. They also customize their products according to the needs and cultures of their customers.

That means, designing a Product which would suit customers belonging to different languages and regions. This was not possible or I would rather say this was not a much sought after affair a few years back. People were not so keen on this. But, now in today’s much competitive world where we want profits coming in from different sources and countries, it has become a necessity that we sell the product worldwide and customize it. This process is what we call “Localization”.

We have heard this term many a times before. But, in software testing, how does this Localization work? How do we Test for Localization? Here, are some definitions and points to note about this type of testing.

Localization Testing?

Localization (L10N) is the process of customizing a software Application that was originally designed for a domestic market so that it can be released in foreign markets. This process involves translating all native language strings to the target language and customizing the GUI so that it is appropriate for the target market.

Localization Testing

Example of Localization Testing:

If a website is designed basically in English (us) and if the customer wants it in some other language then it should be localized in the particular language like some Chinese or Japanese etc..
The total text in the Web page should be localized(translated to the particular language) in the particular language when user selects the option to view the web page in specified language localization is not only for the web pages, we can localize the standard application and setup files to install a product also.

So what do you look for especially when you are testing a localized product?

Most commonly, the issues reported under Localization include the UI and usability issues like the un-localized or un-translated text. But, is that all? NO- There would also be issues like – dipped or truncated text labels and other User Interface controls, incorrect tab order, and layout issues. I have myself been a part of a localization testing team.

So, with that experience I can definitely tell that if you have the linguistic skills on which you are testing the app/web site, it will be an added advantage. But, if you do not know the language in which you are testing the application it will neither stop you from testing.

Because, the majority of problems in this category do not require any special linguistic skills in order to identify the most commonly reported issue i.e, “un-localized” or un-translated textual string. You can easily detect an un-translated string between fully localized texts!

The proper and correct UI translation is the main thing to look for. But, there are also other things which you should be looking at while localization testing.

To name a few,

  • Numbers – The order of numbers the way they are arranged i.e. ascending or descending order.
  • Dates- The date formats for ex the dd/mm/yy or dd/month name/yyyy.
  • Time Zones, and any effects of Daylight Saving Time
  • Currencies
  • Phone Numbers – The way the country code, the state code and the number is arranged. Like- Country Code-State Code-number or just State code-Number
  • Addresses – The way the name, street, city, state, pin code have their lay out also differs from locale to locale.
  • Zip Codes / Postal Codes
  • Special Characters- These also vary according to locales
  • Encoding for Web Pages

Also consider such issues as of Localization Testing:

  • Use of Abbreviations
  • Use of Color
  • Use of Icons and other Images
  • Paper Sizes (8.5 x 11 vs A4)
  • Envelope Sizes
  • Localized Sort Order
  • Order of Given and Family Names
  • Keyboard Types to be Used
  • International Laws and Regulations
  • Encryption Rules and Regulations
  • Copyright Laws
  • Security Expectations and Regulations
  • Import/Export Limitations
  • Currency Exchange/Conversion Rules
  • Holidays- Also, things like the starting day of the week. The starting day of the week is different in different countries. For Ex, the week starts on Monday in US, India. Whereas, it starts on Sunday in some countries. There is a holiday on Friday in Dubai, whereas, in India the holiday is on Sunday.

These are just a few of the many issues to think about. Depending on the type of application, you may have other concerns.


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