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How to perform Localization Testing
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - September 30, 2022
What is Localization Testing?
Essentially, localization testing is a technique to verify software behavior, accuracy, and suitability for specific locations and regions. This could be anything from a particular city to an entire country. The method tests how the software would behave when used in different areas.
Localization testing intends to test globally operating software to provide linguistic and cultural relevance for different parts of the world. It is meant to customize a website or app according to the targeted language, region, audience preferences, and area-based regulations (country or state).
Localization testing checks the content, UI, functionality, and usability of software as it appears in multiple locations. This goes beyond just ensuring the app/website works as expected. It aims to serve a customized user experience by curating features and offerings for individuals according to where they are and what they might prefer.
What is App Localization?
App localization ensures that the app that you are creating appeals to the different target markets that you may have across different geographies. It plays a huge role in taking your mobile/web app to an audience across the globe. For example, if you want to launch your app in a play store listing whose preferred language is Chinese, then there would be a higher rate of conversion if the UI is in Chinese. Developer tools like Xcode allow you to internationalize your app’s UI. It enables you to change the UI text while keeping the functionalities intact. If your app involves in-app purchases, then it is also necessary to check the currency. App localization not only boosts conversion but also makes your app more appealing to audiences from different countries.
When should you perform Localization Testing?
Let’s say that a website or app selling culinary products is set for global release. However, a particular country does not allow, by law, products to be sold if they are made from or contain, in any form, kiwis.
Localization testing, in this case, is required to ensure that when residents of that country open the site or app, they will not see any products containing kiwis. Additionally, the test will verify default language settings, adherence to local regulations, ad content, offers, date and time format, documentation, and the like.
Fundamentally, it will ensure that software is primed for use in that specific country.
Benefits of Localization Testing
- Going global: It’s not too easy to set up extensive localization testing strategies, but it is necessary to design software for a truly global audience. Whatever hard work and resources go into it will pay off by leveraging international opportunities.
Of course, localization testing also helps when prepping software for regional cultures and preferences. It is integral to making any software a true player on the global market.
- Key to scalability: With the right tools, localization testing is a marvel in scalability. As a business expands its potential to newer countries and regions, localization tests will fortify its chances of success.
By building in localization right from the development stage, scalability becomes part of the software’s DNA. Make the source code and UI adaptable enough to align with the preferences of different locales. This helps create, test and release localized versions to market as quickly as possible.
- Refining the testing process: With localization testing in play, QA pipelines will pick up translation errors, violations of geographical regulations, legal infringements, and more. This streamlines QA process and makes it far more effective in identifying and eliminating bugs.
- Engaging more customers: People prefer to use software in their native language. By deploying comprehensive localization testing, devs can give users the customized experience they are looking for. Remember that customers will always choose products that speak to them on cultural and personal levels.
By taking cultural nuances and differences into account, software and the company backing it will demonstrate awareness of global diversity and attention to detail. It will also depict that the company truly cares about customers’ convenience and prioritizes their needs and preferences.
How to Perform Localization Testing for Websites
The easiest way to run localization tests is to use BrowserStack. As mentioned previously, our real device cloud allows QAs to run tests on 2000+ real browsers and devices. That includes desktop and mobile devices as well as multiple versions of major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.)
Follow the steps below to run localization tests on a website. Let us now see how to change geolocation for Chrome.
- Sign up on BrowserStack for free.
- Navigate to BrowserStack Live. Log in (if not logged in already).
- On logging in, a dashboard displaying all available browsers and devices will appear.
- Select the browser (browser version), device (desktop or mobile), and OS version to test on. For this example, let us see how to change geolocation for Chrome in Mac OS.
- Click on the browser. A new session will open on the selected device-browser combination.
- On the menu appearing on the left, click on Change Location.
- A list of countries will show up. Select the one necessary for tests. This example will select Hong Kong.
- On selecting the country, the tester will be asked to Confirm IP Location? Select Yes.
- Now, the session will shift the IP Location to Hong Kong.
- Navigate to the website to be tested – google.com in this case. All user actions will be executed on Google as it opens when used from Hong Kong.
- Run through the various user actions required to verify website functionality. Since the website is loading from a Hong Kong IP, testers will see the website respond as it would for Hong Kong users using Chrome on Monterey.
- Repeat the same steps on multiple browser-device-OS combinations for comprehensive testing.
How to Perform Localization Testing for Apps
- As stated above, sign up for BrowserStack and log in.
- Navigate to BrowserStack App Live.
- Again, as previously stated, a dashboard will appear, listing all available mobile devices and operating systems.
- Upload the app to be tested, or access it from a URL. This example tests the Wikipedia app.
- Choose the relevant device-OS combination. This example uses the Samsung Galaxy S21.
- Click on the device name. A new session will open on the selected device-browser combination.
- On the menu appearing on the left, click on Change Location.
- Users can change location using Device GPS (coordinates/location pin) or IP Location (by country). Either move the location pin to the desired location, or select a country. This example selects Cambodia.
- On selecting the country, the tester will be asked Confirm IP Location? Select Yes.
- Now, the session will shift the IP Location to Cambodia.
- Navigate to the app to be tested – Wikipedia in this case. All user actions will be executed on the app as it opens when used from Cambodia.
- Run through the various user actions required to verify app functionality. Since the website is loading from a Cambodian IP, testers will see the website respond as it would for Cambodian users using the Samsung Galaxy S21.
- Repeat the same steps on multiple device-OS combinations for comprehensive testing.
Best Practices for Localization Testing
- Don’t rush it: A perfectly localized website or app is not made overnight. To start with, it will take time to consolidate the resources necessary to run these tests in the first place. Marketing teams also need sufficient time and capabilities to research their target audience (different for each country, state, city, etc.)
For successful optimization, teams must know as much as possible about their target users so as to tailor the software experience. Human testers must walk in the users’ shoes to identify what they want, and design test cases accordingly.
It will take time to ensure accurate and appropriate translation. It will also take hawk eyes to confirm that nothing remotely offensive, insensitive or unseemly makes it to the production stage. Cultural nuances take time to understand, especially when the tester is not from said culture.
- Test Early, Test Often: This common software testing mantra is just as important when it comes to localization testing. Don’t wait to run these tests until after most development is finished, right before pushing the software to production.
Translations, text arrangement, inclusion or exclusion of products/services and other aspects of localization cannot be managed last-minute. For example, certain languages are read right to left. Certain characters may take more space than the English characters.
Don’t get caught like a deer in the headlights making frantic changes. Expect that devs will need time to edit code and check that everything is up to mark. All of this is better achieved when tests begin early in the process.
A good way to accomplish the requisite mix of speed and accuracy is to combine human testing with automation. Certain actions can be automated using frameworks like Selenium or Cypress. Additionally, all changes must be verified via cross browser testing on multiple real browser-device combinations.
- Test on real browsers and devices: No matter the website or app, it needs to be tested on real devices and browsers. Remember that device fragmentation is a major concern for every developer and tester. Every website has to work seamlessly on multiple device-browser-OS combinations. With 9000+ distinct devices being used to access the internet globally, every site or app has to be optimized for different configurations, viewports, and screen resolutions.
No emulator or simulator can replicate real user conditions. Software needs to be tested on real devices so that they can work in real-world circumstances such as a low battery, incoming calls, weak network strength, and so on. If an in-house lab is not accessible, opt for a cloud-based testing option that offers real devices.
BrowserStack’s real device cloud offers 3000+ real devices and browsers for manual and automation testing, including localization testing. That means users can test on multiple real devices and browsers by signing up, logging in, and selecting the required combinations. They can change a device’s IP Location to the desired country or GPS location, and then run tests to check how software appears and works in those locations.
By leveraging localization testing tools such as BrowserStack, QAs can ensure that software works as intended from different parts of the world, or even different parts of the same country. Follow the steps outlined above to effortlessly optimize websites and apps for diverse demographics, and give the software a viable chance of success in an always-connected world.
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