What is Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting an application to meet the linguistic, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market. Localization (often abbreviated as L10n, 10 standing for the number of letters between l and n) is frequently used as a synonym for translation, but it is much more than just translation. Localization can also involve (but is not limited to) the customisation related to numeric, date and time formats, keyboard and currency usage, sorting lists, symbols, icons, and colors or even references to certain ideas or objects which, in a given culture, may be subject to misinterpretation or viewed as insensitive.

Localization testing can go to various depths. Here are some examples of different areas that should be checked.  Always check your project specific requirements on what type of bugs are expected and what is out of scope, not all the categories listed here will apply for all projects.

UI layout issues

Translated text can be significantly longer than source text, especially if the source text is in English. Some languages expand up to 70 percent and certain words can expand to 300 percent. This can result in a broken UI.

What to check? 

Essentially you need to check if the UI looks "normal":

  • Are all texts visible?
  • Are there no overlapping texts?
  • Are buttons sized normally?
  • Does the layout of the page seem logical and looks good?

Translation quality

Different apps have different quality standards for their translations, so always check your project specific requirements on what type of bugs are expected and what is out of scope. 

What to check?

  • Are all the texts translated? (This usually doesn’t include branding names)
  • Is the text understandable and natural sounding in your language?
  • Have all the grammar rules of your language been followed?
  • Does the app use the correct tone for your language and target audience? Usually, the suitable tone of voice will be described in the Style guide for the language. (For example, very friendly and casual consumer apps shouldn’t sound too formal and vice versa, very official business apps cannot sound too casual)
  • Sometimes, a terminology glossary of approved terms in your language for the app is provided and you also need to check if the app uses the terminology listed there.

Here are common linguistic bug types to underline what mistakes should you look for:

  • No Translation - content is untranslated
  • Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation - there is a grammar/spelling/punctuation error
  • Inaccurate translation - translation is inaccurate and could confuse/mislead the user
  • Idiomatic - the tone is not in line with application's style; the translation sounds unnatural or strange; the formal/informal voice is misused
  • Terminology - the terminology is inconsistent with other translations or with the glossary

Numbers and other formats

What to check?

  • Do all numbers follow the standards in your language/region?
  • Do all presented date and time formats follow the standards in your language/region?
  • Do all presented addresses and telephone numbers follow the standards in your language/region?
  • Do all presented currency follow the standards in your language/region?
  • Are monetary amounts shown in the local currency? (Sometimes it is expected that currency remains in USD/EUR etc. always confirm in project details if this is a bug)
  • Are lists sorted according to the local alphabet or in a way that is logical in your language/region?

Encoding problems

This is mostly a problem for non-latin based alphabets, but also any languages with diacritical latin alphabet letters (such as, ū, ž, é, č, ç, ñ, ë etc.) 

What to check?

  • Are all characters displayed correctly and no weird symbols appear mid-text
  • Are all characters displayed correctly (in all the available fonts) in any text input fields? (usually, this does not apply to email-address, usernames or password fields)

Culturally appropriate content

What to check?

  •  Are all images, symbols, and colors used in the app not offensive in any way in your culture/region?
  • Are all images, symbols, and colors used in the app suitable in their context in your culture/region?
  • Are all ideas and concepts used in the app understandable and relevant in your culture/region? 

Right-to-left layout

This concerns Right-to-left languages, such as Arabic, Aramaic, Azeri, Dhivehi, Hebrew, Kurdish,
Persian, Urdu. (The list is not conclusive)

What to check?

  • Are all texts correctly aligned and readable?
  • When inputting text (especially in your language mixed with latin characters), does the text flow normally and the cursor is displayed correctly?
  • Is any imagery correctly aligned?
  • Any icons with direction should follow right to left layout
  • Any neutral imagery should stay in its original direction like in the source language of the app
  • Does the UI look natural and ‘normal’ in your language?

All in all, when doing localization testing, you should think from the mindset that if the app was developed and created in your language and by people living in your culture, what looks not correct in that case? Anything that would look weird for you for an app made in your language and aimed at your region, is potentially a problem that should be reported (this of course again depends on the product requirements). #lovelocalizationtesting

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