The digital era transcends geographical boundaries – though an application must be developed and tested to adapt to the rules of markets around the globe. Localization and internationalization testing enable applications to navigate linguistic barriers and help software resonate with diverse audiences. Testing extends beyond mere translation. It requires a profound understanding of the differences and similarities between cultures. Localization and internationalization testing take software beyond basic design by embedding elements that promote deep user satisfaction.

Illustration of two language bubbles. Each has a single character for a different language. There are two arrows showing a localization process taking place.


Localization Versus Internationalization Testing

Localization and internationalization testing are critical yet distinct parts of global quality assurance. Localization testing makes sure software feels natural or organic to users in a specific region. It helps refine the user experience to meet cultural and linguistic needs. Internationalization testing concentrates on structural design to determine if the software can easily adapt to various languages and regions without extensive code changes. It helps facilitate the software’s broader applicability in a global launch.

Analysts execute internationalization testing first because it readies software for the localization phase. This separation of functions streamlines and optimizes software deployment in global markets, making it a more efficient and cost-effective process.

A two way sign placed in front of a large glass building. The first sign reads 'global' and the second sign reads 'local'


Localization Tests Cultural Conventions

Localization testing in software QA is a meticulous process. It takes a deep dive into the specifics of culture and language. Localization ensures a user’s experience feels custom-made for them, regardless of language, time zone, or shape of the money in their pocket. Localization testing includes:

  • Language Adaptation: Confirm the precise translation of all textual elements to ensure user interfaces, documentation, error prompts, and other content meet cultural conventions.
  • Legal Compliance: Ensure software complies with local laws and regulations, including privacy and data protection statutes.
  • Platform Compatibility: Evaluate software functionality on devices, operating systems, and browsers commonly used in the target region to ensure seamless user experience across platforms.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Ensure graphics, symbols, icons, and images align with the cultural context of the target audience.
  • Date and Time Formatting: Tailor date and time displays to match the conventions of the target region, improving user experience and clarity.
  • Currency Alignment: Adjust currency symbols, formats, and decimal separators to match the currency used in the target locale.
  • Time Zone Adaptation: Adapt to differences in time zones and daylight saving changes, especially in scheduling and calendar applications.
  • Numeric Presentation: Adapt numerical formats, including number display styles, thousands separators, and decimal points to meet local standards.
  • Unit Conversion: Convert measurement units to align with predominant measurement systems in the target region.
  • Keyboard Suitability: Ensure appropriate input methods and keyboard layouts for the target language and script, optimizing the user experience for local users.

Why is this important? Consider how American football fans would react to an app that labels touchdowns as runs and end zone pylons as wickets. Cricket fans would be as confused and potentially angry using an app with the references reversed.

Internationalization Tests Design for Diversity

Global software has to adapt to various linguistic and cultural landscapes seamlessly. Internationalization testing identifies and fixes design and coding issues that could impede software’s adaptability across multiple locales. It encompasses an evaluation of the software’s architecture, source code, and configuration settings to make it agnostic to language and culture. Internationalization testing includes:

  • Language Adaptability: Verify the software can seamlessly accommodate multiple languages and scripts, even if they involve different writing directions (e.g., left-to-right and right-to-left scripts).
  • Character Encoding Design: Ensure the software can manage diverse character encodings and supports Unicode, allowing the handling and display of text across various languages and scripts.
  • Number and Date Displays: Test the format and display of numbers, dates, and times to ensure regional conventions.
  • Cultural Adaptability: Evaluate adaptability to different locales, including date and time formats, currency symbols, numerical formats, and cultural conventions.
  • Text Expansion and Contraction: Check the ability to handle variations in text length without causing layout or display issues.
  • UI Layout and Design: Ensure the user interface is designed to accommodate content length variations flexibly.
  • Keyboard and Input Flexibility: Verify support for different keyboard layouts and input methods used in diverse regions and languages.
  • Content Direction Support: Test how software handles content directionality, such as left-to-right (LTR) and right-to-left (RTL) writing systems.
  • Accessibility Support: Ensure accessibility for users with disabilities and ensure regional accessibility symbols are correct.
  • Time Zone and Calendar Handling: Evaluating how the software manages time zones, daylight saving time changes, and diverse calendar systems utilized in various regions.

Google has a robust internationalization approach. Their flexible design seamlessly accommodates multiple languages and delivers an engaging user experience on a global scale, regardless of cultural boundaries.

Screenshot of the 'Localize Your App' section of Google's Localization guidelines on their website.


Navigating a Shift in Linguistics

Airbnb is another example of a company that meticulously tailored its content to distinct regions, expanding its travel service to 220 countries. For the company to make an inroad in the Middle East, it had to realign its perception of how users interact with its app and websites.

Most Airbnb users read content left-to-right. However, 300 million potential users speak Hebrew and Arabic, which read right-to-left. Airbnb built an efficient and scalable model as the blueprint for its localized services and hired native tongue speakers to improve translation quality. QA testers had a deep list of localization and internationalization components to confirm, which included:

  • Confirming the translation and adaptation of textual elements, interfaces, documentation, and other content
  • Ensuring graphics, icons, and images to suit cultural contexts
  • Verifying appropriate input methods and keyboard layouts
  • Evaluating functionality on specific devices and operating systems commonly used in regions where people speak Arabic and Hebrew
  • Tailoring date and time displays

A listing on Airbnb in Israel. The page is displayed in the Hebrew language.


Assuring Quality Worldwide

A steadfast Quality Assurance (QA) partner bridges the chasm between diverse cultures, ensuring a seamless, relatable, and enjoyable user experience. A meticulous focus on localization and internationalization testing can help your software make an enduring imprint across the global landscape.

Connect with us today to explore how PLUS QA’s localization and internationalization testing can ensure your software launches flawlessly everywhere you want to reach users.

A crowd of QA conference attendees gathering around a presentation taking place on a large stage.