What is localization testing? How-to and checklist

what is localization testing

For companies and developers looking to expand their digital footprint beyond borders, the key to success lies in mastering the art of localization. Ensuring that this is seamless and error-free requires a meticulous and comprehensive process known as localization testing.

Whether you are a software developer, project manager, or a linguist working on the international stage, this article aims to shed light on the nuances of localization testing and the best practices to ensure your product resonates with audiences around the world.


What is localization testing?

Localization testing is a software testing process that focuses on verifying whether a software application or product has been adapted, translated, and culturally customized correctly for a specific target market or locale. The goal of localization testing is to ensure that the software functions properly and is culturally sensitive and appropriate for users in a particular region or country.

This process is essential for software companies that want to expand their products into international markets. It helps ensure that the software is not only translated accurately but also functions seamlessly and provides a positive user experience in different locales. Localization testing is often carried out by a team of localization experts who are familiar with the culture and language of the target market.

Difference between localization and globalization testing

Localization testing and globalization testing are both essential phases in the software development lifecycle, but they serve different purposes and focus on distinct aspects of adapting software for international markets.

This type of testing focuses on customizing a software application for a specific target market, culture, or locale. It ensures that the product feels as if it was developed for the local audience. Globalization testing, on the other hand, focuses on making a software product adaptable to various markets, regions, and languages. It aims to create a product that can be localized easily and efficiently.

Furthermore, localization testing often involves using translation management systems (TMS), linguistic quality assurance tools, and localization testing platforms. Globalization testing tools include Globalization Management Systems (GMS) and character encoding validators. It focuses on technical aspects rather than linguistic and cultural content.

Localization testing checklist

A localization testing checklist helps ensure that software or a product has been correctly adapted and customized for a specific target market or locale. We’ve put together a generalized checklist that you can use as a starting point for your testing efforts:

  1. Language and text. Verify that all text, labels, and messages are accurately translated into the target language. Check for text truncation or expansion issues due to language differences. Lastly, ensure that special characters, diacritics, and non-Latin scripts are displayed correctly.
  2. Date and time formats. Confirm that date and time formats are in accordance with local conventions and test the software’s handling of time zones and daylight saving time (DST).
  3. Currency and number formats. Validate that currency symbols, decimal separators, and thousands separators are correct. Ensure that currency conversion is accurate.
  4. Measurement units. Verify that units of measurement (e.g., metric, imperial) are appropriate for the target region.
  5. Calendar systems. Check if the calendar system (e.g., Gregorian, Hijri, Chinese) is appropriate for the region.
  6. Legal and regulatory compliance. Confirm that the software complies with local laws and regulations, including data privacy and protection requirements.
  7. Regional preferences. Test regional-specific settings and preferences and ensure the software respects local standards for date, time, and numeric formatting.
  8. Local functionality. Test any features that are specific to the target market and verify that the software integrates with region-specific APIs or services.
  9. UX and UI. Evaluate the overall user experience to ensure they align with local expectations. Confirm that the UI layout and graphics are culturally and aesthetically appropriate and check for any layout issues caused by text expansion or contraction.
  10. Keyboard and input method support. Ensure support for local keyboard layouts and input methods, including special characters.
  11. Help and documentation. Verify that user guides, manuals, and online help are available in the local language.
  12. User Acceptance Testing (UAT). Conduct UAT with users or testers from the target market to gather feedback and uncover issues.
  13. Compatibility testing. Test the software on the target market’s operating systems, browsers, and devices to ensure compatibility.
  14. Localization testing tools. Use testing tools such as translation management systems to facilitate the testing process.
  15. Localization Quality Assurance (LQA). Perform linguistic and functional LQA to identify and address linguistic issues and functional problems.
  16. Localization testing schedule. Plan the testing schedule to account for time zone differences, holidays, and other regional considerations.

Note that specific requirements may vary depending on the project and the target market. Customize this checklist to suit your needs.

How to perform localization testing

Localization testing is an iterative process, and it may require multiple rounds of testing and refinement to achieve a high level of quality for the localized product. Here are some steps to conduct testing effectively:

Understand the requirements

Begin by thoroughly understanding the localization requirements for your project. This includes the target market, language, cultural, and regulatory considerations. It’s important to define the scope of the localization project. You will need to clearly outline what needs to be localized, such as software, websites, or documentation. Specify the languages and locales to be targeted.

Build a localization team

Assemble a team of experts, including native speakers of the target language, localization engineers, translators, and subject matter experts (SMEs) who are familiar with the specific market.

Create a test plan

Develop a detailed test plan that outlines the scope of your testing, including the features, content, and functionality that need to be tested. You can use the localization testing checklist above as guidance.

Prepare test environments

Set up testing environments that mimic the target market’s conditions. This may include configuring the operating system, browsers, and devices according to the region’s specifications. You can use virtual machines or emulators to simulate the operating systems and devices commonly used in the target region and employ localization testing tools to automate and streamline testing.

Translation and localization

The translation and localization phase is a critical component of localization testing. Translation involves converting all textual content within the software, including user interface labels, error messages, help documentation, and any other text, into the target language.

It’s essential to collaborate closely with native speakers, experienced translators, and localization experts who understand the cultural and linguistic nuances of the target market. Their input is crucial to ensuring that the software is not only translated accurately but also tailored to the expectations and sensibilities of the local user base.

Functional testing

Test the software’s functionality to ensure it works as expected in the localized version. You should pay attention to areas such as form validation, input validation, and any region-specific features. Internationalization, regression, usability, and compatibility testing are also key aspects of functional testing.

Content validation

Verify that translated text fits within UI elements, and check for any text truncation or expansion issues. Ensure that all text is displayed correctly, including right-to-left (RTL) or non-Latin scripts. Also look at the contextual accuracy, linguistic quality, consistency in terminology, and content clarity.

Documentation and reporting

The documentation and reporting phase in localization testing is crucial for maintaining transparency, tracking issues, and ensuring that the localization process is well-documented and organized. Before testing begins, ensure that all necessary documentation is in place. This includes the test plan, test cases, style guides, and linguistic guidelines.

Compile a comprehensive report that includes all issues encountered, their status (resolved, pending, closed), and any additional information that might be useful for developers and stakeholders. The report should also include a summary of the testing process, test coverage, and any specific localization challenges faced.

Can you automate localization testing?

If you’re wondering how to automate localization testing, you should know that full automation is not possible. However, you can automate your testing to a significant extent. It involves using testing tools, scripts, and frameworks to verify that software or content is accurately adapted for different languages and regions.

It is possible to automate functional tests to verify that the software works as expected in the localized version, as well as the date & time and currency & number formats. The same goes for cross-platform and device testing, as it is possible to automate tests on various platforms, operating systems, and devices that are commonly used in the target market to ensure compatibility.

You may also choose to automate regression tests to ensure that bug fixes and enhancements do not negatively impact the localization aspects of the software. And parallel testing can be performed by running the same set of automated tests on different localized versions of the software. This helps identify differences and issues specific to each language or locale.

While automation can cover a significant portion of localization testing, it’s essential to acknowledge that some aspects, such as cultural sensitivity and context appropriateness, may still require manual intervention or human judgment.

Localization testing tools

Localization testing tools can significantly streamline the testing process, helping testers, developers, and localization experts identify issues and ensure that a product is accurately adapted for specific target markets. Some common tools used for localization testing include:

  • Translation Management Systems (TMS) such as POEditor, that facilitate collaboration between translators, track progress, and maintain translation memories and glossaries for consistent language use.
  • Localization testing platforms, that assist in testing different aspects, such as UI, language, date formats, and currency symbols, all in one place.
  • Globalization Management Systems (GMS), that support internationalization (i18n) and globalization (g11n) efforts by helping to identify and fix issues related to language, culture, and locale settings.
  • Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, that include Translation Memory (TM) to store and reuse translations, and terminology management for maintaining consistent terminology.
  • Localization testing automation tools, that help identify and test elements affected by localization changes. They can verify UI elements, date and time formats, and currency symbols automatically.
  • Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA) tools, that assist in linguistic validation and quality control of translations.
  • Testing management tools, that help in organizing test cases, tracking issues, and managing test environments efficiently.
  • Collaboration and communication tools, that ensure effective communication and collaboration.
  • Other useful localization testing tools include character encoding validators, date and time format checkers, currency format validation tools, font and text rendering validators.

Localize and test with POEditor

Translation management system POEditor streamlines the localization and localization testing processes by providing a collaborative environment for translators, testers, and linguistic experts. It simplifies project management, maintains linguistic assets, and offers tools for issue tracking and reporting, making it a valuable platform for localization teams.

POEditor has several useful features that can help with managing linguistic assets. You can perform QA Checks, add glossaries, specify language-specific terminology, and maintain translation memory for consistency. The platform also allows for proofreading and validation of translations. Linguistic experts can review translations and ensure their accuracy and linguistic quality.

Utilize POEditor’s communication integrations and collaboration features to communicate with your team members, including translators, testers, and linguistic experts. Collaboration is key to resolving issues and ensuring that localization meets quality standards.

Final thoughts

As we conclude our exploration of localization testing, we emphasize the importance of meticulous planning, collaboration between linguistic experts and testing teams, and the use of sophisticated tools to ensure the seamless adaptation of a product for the global stage. By embracing this type of testing as an integral part of your software development process, you can unlock the doors to international markets and connect with users worldwide.

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