Globalization Testing Takes More than Functionality Checks

Aug 23, 2017


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Article ImageWhenever digital globalization is initiated or accelerated the testing stage is a critical milestone to certify that global content delights target audiences and thrives in any target market. This may sound like any other testing effort regardless of scope and nature. Yet, it must be considered holistically. Leading it as a mainstream activity and prioritizing sanity checks are two typical pitfalls that put globalization testing off track and off budget. A couple of guidelines should be kept in mind to avoid ending up with unnecessary iterations and to generate cost effective takeaways.

Globalization Testing is About How Content Looks and Works

When test cases or stories are created it may be natural to maintain the laser focus on functional requirements. In the digital age testers dedicate their time to product components that take users and customers to the functionality and content they value most. However, this testing perspective should be balanced with all facets making journeys personal and experiences customer centric. It matters even more for localized content that has to meet various linguistic and cultural requirements. Therefore globalization testing scenarios must include a blend of functional, linguistic, and design enablers. They have to bring forward the logic of user interaction that integrates with the end-to-end customer behaviour, and each factor that boosts or slows down experiences. For example, using vocabulary or terminology that is not meaningful enough hampers efficiency and satisfaction. So does missing contextual relevance or lacking cultural sensitivity in product features. The whole localized content has to be fully aligned with user patterns and profiles that cover linguistic, cultural, and functional practices.

Globalization Testing Defects May Not be What They Look Like at First Sight

Another reason for testing globalized and localized products holistically is to fix bugs from their roots. A functional defect may actually be caused by a linguistic defect and vice versa. Some proper functionality may not fit nicely in the content design and fake functional bugs instead of pointing to needed design adjustments. In such cases, implementing skin deep fixes may only solve part of the problem and even possibly trigger additional defects by not addressing the root causes. Therefore it is worth categorizing bugs and fixes according to their nature to take the right actions and assign the appropriate resources. Clipping issues on user interfaces are fairly common when testing localized content. Modifying the embedded text may appear as the quick solution here. It only draws the attention to what is visible while hiding the real bug. Solving it properly implies determining whether the design or development has been optimized upfront to accommodate content in any language and for any locale. What’s worse is that changing the text may alter the overall accuracy or relevance of the interface without fixing the defect eventually.

Globalization Testing Should Start Before Localization

Globalization testing often comes to mind when products are localized just before deployment. No doubt it is an imperative to detect any glitch that may spoil content and damage experiences. However, an earlier stage of testing is recommended to anticipate issues and accelerate fixing. Pseudo-translation or pseudo-localization comes in to play in terms of global design and development at early stage, prior to kicking off any localization work stream. This process proves to save time and cost in many instances, especially for complex products or content intensive interfaces. As it enables content leaders to simulate how the content is going to look and function in a future localized version, it also brings up gaps, mistakes, or weaknesses that have not come to the surface yet. Translating the source content into a dummy language in a fairly automated fashion allows them to view where content is likely to fail and adjust the overall design and development accordingly. For example, if content expansion or contraction in another language turns out to jeopardize the overall use and understanding of localized products it is not too late to adapt proactively which prevents additional costs and iterations during the subsequent localization phase.

Globalization Testing Brings More Value When Many Resources are Involved

Real life testing is driven with focus groups made of internal users and external customers. They provide invaluable feedback and immediate input that keeps them at the center of a product. Leveraging professional testers helps dive deeper in some linguistic, cultural, and functional areas whether it is before or at the same time as focus groups. Their expertise and experience can make a difference through unbiased views and challenging suggestions--also for points that may remain unspoken with other testers. The gaming industry has put this approach into practice very well by managing resources that are savvy in various ways with various profiles like top-end players, specialized engineers, and seasoned linguists. As such they are able to test and validate that gaming content is actionable and immersive for the most demanding customers around the world.


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