Globalization Testing: A Must-Have for Product Localization

RWS / SDL – Globalization Testing

Companies that are serious about globalizing their products have a lot to get right in order to meet the expectations of international users. In two previous articles, we looked at the impact of the expanded product experience and how agile product development has led to a demand for continuous localization. This time, we look at one of the most overlooked requirements for successful product globalization: globalization testing and quality assurance.

No company would release new or updated software, or any other product, in its home market without extensive QA testing. But this is not always the case when it comes to localized product versions. We’ve all heard the stories — some apocryphal, some completely true — of catastrophic translation fails and cultural faux pas, but there are other pitfalls too.

In one recent case, it turned out that an important new mobile phone feature relied on the availability of a 5G network to function properly. This was not a problem in the product’s home market where it was developed, but proved a recipe for disaster in countries with slower 5G rollouts.

The requirement for this type of testing goes beyond language, and is perhaps why some LSPs steer clear of globalization testing and QA. Linguistic and cultural issues do play a major part in the process, though, and there’s an opportunity for all LSPs to offer a more complete localization service, even if they need to partner with global product testing experts to do so.

What the Experts Do

Whether you call it globalization testing or international QA, the purpose is simply to ensure that every aspect of the product works as it should for a specific locale.

Beyond testing the linguistic and cultural elements, this includes testing that the product functions correctly across all relevant platforms and devices. Functional testing is complemented by UX testing, which involves engaging real users in the target market to complete tasks through a series of test cases and provide their reactions to the experience.

Localized versions are tested to ensure they are linguistically accurate, that cultural elements such as date and money formats are correct, and that the product works as expected (no issues arising from absence of a 5G network, for example).

Behind the scenes, globalization testing requires specialist skills, from the ability to develop test plans and automate testing to expertise in software localization engineering (the analysis, building and mastering of files, as well as bug fixing and reporting).

For one high tech company RWS supports, we regularly find and fix 1,000+ unique bugs, ranging from language display issues and missing address fields to lack of parental controls for certain locales.

Increasingly, there’s also a requirement to test and train AI-driven applications for multilingual use. In another example, we worked alongside a development team to test their automated speech recognition / text-to-speech (ASR / TTS) system. This involved testing more than 8.5 million utterances for audio glitches, mispronunciations, and intonation issues as well as 800,000 utterances for audio quality and naturality of speech issues.

A good globalization testing service also understands that successful product globalization begins with internationalization, which builds compatibility and capacity for localization right into the product design and development stage. It makes every other step down the road to international product success so much easier, and is often the first step to resolving recurring localization issues discovered during globalization testing.

Close the Loop With Globalization Testing

The ability to offer globalization testing is a great way for LSPs to stand out to clients that don’t have the skills or resources to manage testing beyond one or a very few markets. One smart-home device manufacturer, for example, had a small in-house testing team but couldn’t easily scale to handle more languages. Read the full story to learn how we were able to help.

Just like this smart device manufacturer, businesses around the world increasingly want to pay as much attention to their international markets as to their home market. And as we’ve seen in this series of three articles, delivering a great global product experience in a fast-paced, digitally connected age takes product localization to new places. It must deal with the expanded product experience and agile product development as well as with globalization testing.

It’s high time for the localization industry to step up in all these ways, to help ambitious businesses globalize successfully.