The Complete Guide to Globalization Testing

Globalization testing ensures that your applications work for diverse audiences worldwide. Learn how to test for regional preferences seamlessly with our comprehensive guide.
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Current year, “personalization” and “globalization” are essential to the digital business game. If a brand wants to build and release an app/website with an international target audience (or even a national population speaking different languages, following different customs, and from different ethnicities),it must make an effort to make the app appealing to all those different language speakers. 

To do so on the level of software development – engineering and QA teams need globalization testing. In this article, we’ll discuss the definition, necessity, techniques, benefits, and types of globalization testing. 

If this is your first time with globalization testing, this article should serve as a launchpad for you to start researching and planning your own tests in this category. 

Let’s begin. 

What is Globalization Testing?

Globalization Testing is a software testing technique that intends to verify an app/site’s cultural acceptability among users in different geographical locations. It is meant to ensure that the app is user-friendly for people speaking different languages and following different cultural, religious, and personal preferences – offering a customized experience.

Let’s elaborate on this with a quick example. Imagine that you’re building a grocery/food delivery app with an international user base in mind. However, the app won’t look the same to users in Kuwait and Amsterdam, would it?

To start with, users in Kuwait would have the option to change the app’s language to Arabic. Secondly, there are many products that would not be available for delivery or even shown in the product listings – items like pork products or any non-halal items. 

However, for Amsterdam users, the app should ideally allow usage in the Dutch language. It would also allow the purchase of all products legal in The Netherlands. 

Globalization testing would ensure that such rules are followed by the app, depending on the location of its end-users. Its techniques would be utilized to confirm that the app is available in the right languages and offers the right products/services, where the “right” changes according to location.

Globalization Testing has two categories: localization and internationalization testing. 

Localization Testing

In the Localization Testing process, the test engine checks the software to ensure that it matches the requirements of each locale in which the target audience lives. This includes checking language, vernacular expressions (if any), adherence to local rules and customs, etc. The idea is to create software that appeals to users, irrespective of their culture, geography, and language. 

As part of this technique, testers should also check that the software manual/guide/documentation is also available in the relevant languages so that the UX is comprehensive even outside the app’s UI. 

Internationalization Testing

Here, the tests check that the app is available in multiple languages and matches user expectations in different cultures and reasons. But there is a kicker. The changes recommended from these tests steer clear of any changes to the source code. 

This test process usually checks that the app works uniformly across regions, can handle support calls from all regions, is compatible with languages, etc. 

You might find some relation between Globalization and Internalization, but the latter is the subset of the former. As for localization, here is a detailed blog on globalization vs localization that can help you understand the topic better.

We’ll discuss these testing sub-types in more detail, later in the article. Stick around!

How to Perform Globalization Testing on Real Browsers & Devices

Obviously, it’s not possible for QA teams to have presence in every country an app is meant to serve. Teams must use a tool that allows the software to be viewed, used, and tested from different locations, without ever leaving QA workstations. 

To perform Globalization Testing on Real Browsers and Devices, perform the following steps:

  • Choose the right automation tool: You can certainly run manual globalization tests, but that would require inordinate amounts of time and effort. Human testers cannot be expected to test an app’s functionality manually for multiple countries…. at least, not fast enough to meet user expectations and time-to-market benchmarks.

    The solution is to use an automation tool like Testsigma that is set up for (among others) globalization testing. For example, you can use Desired Capabilities to set the Geographical Location for running tests in Mobile Web on Testsigma.

    Additionally, Testsigma offers access to hundreds of real devices (mobile and desktop) and browsers. That means your QA team can view how the app behaves in the hands of real end-users using their device of choice to use the app from a specific location. Since the user journey and experience can be replicated on a test workstation, you can see how the app would behave in the real world with ease and accuracy. 


Note: Just because you automate globalization tests does not mean you cut human testers out of the equation. Human testers are mandatory to create test scripts, supervise the tests, analyze reports and make final approvals and decisions about software quality. Human testers are non-negotiable.

  • Decide which elements need testing: Not every element needs to be verified within globalization tests. The team needs to identify the critical UI elements that make a difference to different user bases. Generally, such elements include, date & time, number & currency, writing conventions (Japanese is read right to left, for eg.), language(es) and adherence to legal and cultural expectations.

    Commonly, globalization testing covers the following elements:
    • Date and Time formatting
    • Language and vocabulary
    • Currency rates and symbols
    • Paper sizes (for printing)
    • Zip code, address, and phone number format.
  • Create test scripts: Now that you know what to test, create automation scripts to run said tests. The scripts should include test cases to check language translations and the other UI elements mentioned above.
  • Run the tests: Feed the scripts into your chosen automation tool. The tool should be able to simulate languages and regional settings for every location where your target audience lives and would use the app. 
  • Receive and study test results: The tool generates test results, and testers look at what went wrong. Look at the failed tests, find the juncture at which bugs showed up, and send the necessary reports to the dev team.

    A tool like Testsigma generates extensive test reports in different formats, depending on who is meant to read the report. These reports identify patterns, make data-driven decisions, and align testing efforts, and optimize your testing strategy at every level with granular test reports.

Advantages of Globalization Testing

  • Brings scalability to the software environment: If you want an international user base for your software, the software must have the chops to support such an audience. Globalization testing is essential for this.

    The process of checking your app’s compatibility with different regions and user preferences goes a very long way to giving your audience the kind of international-yet-relatable experience they demand out of modern software (and rightly so). Globalization testing checks that the app is actually equipped to provide such an experience.
  • Saves time and effort: By checking for location-based bugs, QAs save a lot of time handling support queries and complaints that would have come in if the app was not run through globalization testing. It also saves time that would otherwise be spent on extensive localization testing.
  • Provides a much better user experience: At its core, every app’s success ultimately depends on the quality of user experience it can provide. Excellent UX creates happy customers.

    Globalization testing verifies that the quality of an app’s UX appeals to users from different countries and regions. This leads to creating and pushing better user experiences.
  • Enhances product quality: Any software that has been optimized for different regional audiences is a high-quality app. Globalization testing is central to creating such quality within your software environment.
  • Enables reusability: By running globalization tests, devs and QAs can guarantee that an application can be used in different regions without having to rewrite the source code every time. This helps to save an inordinate amount of time, human effort, and money. 

Purpose of Globalization Testing

  • Find bugs: Globalization testing checks to see if the software is infected with any bugs that would get in the way of a solid user experience, no matter where the user is located.
  • Helps build a customized UI/UX: Globalization ensures that a user in India is just as comfortable using an app as a user in South Africa or a user in the USA. This provides a uniform user experience in every region.
  • Enables multi-language support: If users can operate an app in different languages (based on their location), they should also be able to get their queries met in those languages. Globalization testing is necessary to check that this is actually possible for all users.
  • Defines the UI: The requirements of globalization testing actually determine the structure and content of the app’s UI.  

Types of Globalization Testing

As mentioned earlier, the two types of globalization testing are:

Localization Testing

Localization Testing ensures that the software product is customized to the needs and preferences of users from each geographical region (or at least, in the regions where the majority of the software users reside). It aims to create a product that looks sleek and works perfectly, aligned with the requirements of the region. 

Alternatively known as L10N testing, localization testing also involves:

  • Translating software language and UI elements (icons, graphics) for the user. 
  • Translating user manuals, documentation, and other support mechanisms for users from specific regions. 
  • Ensuring that the software matches the hardware setups commonly used by people in those particular regions. 

Internationalization Testing

Internationalization testing checks if the app is available in multiple languages and matches user expectations in different cultures and reasons. However, all changes recommended from these tests shouldn’t require devs to alter the source code in any way. 

Alternatively known as l18N testing, internationalization testing involves:

  • Checking if the app is working uniformly well across global regions, and matching cultural expectations. 
  • Checking if the app’s code can process and support all requests for support (from any region) without any breach of functionality or usability. 
  • Checking if all functions of the app are truly available in different languages, corresponding to the location from which the app is used. 
  • Checking if there are any UI validation issues. This covers visual bugs like overlapping text, misplaced buttons, graphical snafus, etc. 
  • Checking if the app can be installed seamlessly in different native languages. 
  • Checking if all installation messages are being displayed accurately in various languages. 
  • Checking if the app is interoperable – that it works across different targeted platforms, browser and app versions, OSes and OS versions, etc. 

Why both Globalization and Localization Testing Strategies Matter for Businesses?

Both Globalization Testing and Localization Testing are essential for businesses operating in a globalized world. With businesses catering to a diverse audience across various geographical regions, it’s crucial to ensure that the software application works seamlessly for every user.

Globalization Testing helps businesses to ensure that their software application can be used by people around the world, regardless of their location, language, and cultural background. This testing helps to identify issues related to language translation, date and time formats, and regional differences that can impact the software’s functionality, usability, and performance. Globalization Testing can help businesses to ensure that their software application is compatible with different languages, scripts, and character sets and meets the diverse needs of a global audience.

On the other hand, Localization Testing ensures that the software application meets the linguistic and cultural preferences of the local audience. This testing helps businesses to verify that the software correctly displays and functions in a specific language, uses appropriate local formatting for dates, times, currency, and numerical values, and complies with local regulations and laws. Localization Testing can help businesses to ensure that their software application is suitable for the local market, providing users with a seamless experience that meets their cultural and linguistic preferences.

Both localization vs. globalization are critical for businesses operating in a globalized world. The difference between globalization and localization ensures that their software application is suitable for both global and local audiences, businesses can improve user satisfaction and increase their reach in the global market. Neglecting either of these testing strategies can result in missed opportunities, negative user experiences, and even legal repercussions.

In conclusion, businesses should prioritize both Globalization Testing and Localization Testing to ensure their software applications meet the diverse needs of their global and local audience.

Similarities Between Globalization and Localization Testing

Globalization Testing and Localization Testing are two related types of software testing that share some similarities in objectives and strategies. While the specific focus of each testing type may be different, the overall goal of ensuring that a software application works seamlessly for its intended audience is shared.

The key objective of Globalization Testing is to ensure that the software application can function effectively across different cultures, languages, and geographical regions. This testing verifies that the software is capable of handling diverse cultural and linguistic requirements while maintaining its functionality and usability. On the other hand, the key objective of Localization Testing is to ensure that the software application meets the linguistic and cultural preferences of the local audience. This testing verifies that the software correctly displays and functions in a specific language, uses appropriate local formatting for dates, times, currency, and numerical values, and complies with local regulations and laws.

Both Globalization and Localization testing use similar strategies to achieve their objectives. These strategies include identifying and testing critical user interface components, such as date and time formats, number and currency formats, and language translation. Both testing types also involve testing the software’s ability to handle a large number of users, network bandwidth limitations, and regional infrastructure differences. Additionally, both Globalization and Localization testing may involve testing the software’s performance, scalability, and reliability under different international scenarios.

Globalization Testing VS Localization Testing – Key Differences

Should Globalization and Localization Testing be automated?

Globalization and Localization Testing can benefit from automation to improve efficiency and accuracy. Automated testing tools can quickly and accurately test different language translations, date and time formats, currency and number formats, and other critical user interface components, which can be difficult and time-consuming to test manually. However, human testers may still be necessary to provide insights into local nuances and preferences that automation tools may not be able to detect. The decision to automate Globalization Testing vs. Localization Testing will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the software application, as well as the available resources and budget. 

How to automate Globalization Testing and Localization Testing

Automating Globalization Testing and Localization Testing can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the testing process. Here are some steps businesses can take to automate these types of testing:

  1. Select an appropriate automation tool: There are several automation tools available in the market that can be used for Globalization and Localization Testing. Businesses should select a tool that is appropriate for their specific needs and budget.
  2. Identify critical user interface components: Businesses should identify critical user interface components such as date and time formats, number and currency formats, and language translation that need to be tested. These components should be automated for testing.
  3. Develop test scripts: Test scripts should be developed to test the identified user interface components. These scripts should include test cases that cover different language translations, date and time formats, and other critical user interface components.
  4. Execute the test scripts: Once the test scripts are developed, they should be executed using the automation tool. The tool should be configured to simulate different language and regional settings to test the software application’s adaptability to different cultures and regions. TestSigma has an excellent article about Geolocation Testing and how you can test your website in different locations. Check it out!
  5. Analyze test results: The automation tool should generate test results that can be analyzed to identify defects and areas for improvement. These results can be used to refine the software application and improve its overall quality.
  6. Involve human testers: While automation can improve efficiency and accuracy, it is still important to involve human testers to provide insights into local nuances and preferences that automation tools may not be able to detect.

Best Practices for Globalization and Localization Testing

Globalization and localization testing are very important for companies that are ready for a larger audience. To guarantee quality and consistency, there are some best ways that companies should follow when conducting globalization and localization testing.

Firstly, it is paramount to carefully conduct comprehensive testing to identify and fix bugs that may arise in different regions, languages, and cultures. This involves testing the software across different operating systems, web browsers, and devices to ensure compatibility. Testing should also involve examining the software’s compliance with local laws and regulations, including data privacy laws, and adhering to cultural norms.

Adapting products, software, and websites to different languages and cultures is another best practice for Globalization Testing vs. Localization Testing. Partnering with a translation company for website, software, and mobile app localization can expand a company’s audience and enhance its market presence across various regions. 

Using automated testing tools can also very much streamline the testing process, reducing testing time and cost. Testsigma, a powerful open-source test automation platform. TestSigma allows companies to automate their testing processes, which can save a lot of time and money while making sure of the accuracy and consistency of testing results.

Real-World Examples of Successful Globalization and Localization Testing

Let us take a closer look at two inspiring real-world case studies that showcase the power of successful globalization and localization testing.

The first case study involves the one and only Airbnb, an e-commerce platform that wanted to optimize its website for different regions worldwide. Airbnb was already successful in its home market but needed to cater to unique cultural and linguistic requirements in each region while ensuring a consistent user experience.

To achieve these goals, Airbnb implemented a comprehensive globalization and localization testing strategy. They adapted their website to multiple languages, cultures, and regulations, and used automated testing tools to streamline the testing process. They also used localization services provided by Smartling to translate their website into multiple languages, ensuring that the content was culturally appropriate for each region. As a result, Airbnb was able to increase its market share, attract new customers, and generate significant revenue growth.

The second case study will be coming from the experts themselves.

Khamani Harrison is the CEO of Keybookstore, a technology company specializing in new technologies such as Web 3, Metaverse, NFFs, AI, AR/VR, coding, and creating digital experiences.

Harman Singhe is the director at Cysphere, a cybersecurity services company helping customers protect their most prized assets across the UK and US.

And lastly we have Bruno Mohr, a vice-president at Fair Credit, a team of consumer protection attorneys having over 35+ years of experience defending clients under the FCRA.

Mohr notes, “Localization testing, There are ten characters between the letters L and n, thus this notation is also used. Pin code, data, phone number, currency, and other formats can all be tested for localization with the help of localization. Internationalization (i18n) is the process of making software compatible with several languages and cultures. Finding design flaws in applications that can prevent them from being used internationally. I18n testing ensures the product works as intended by simulating all conceivable international user input. It guarantees that the code can support all languages without breaking.”

Singhe says, “Globalization testing is the process of ensuring that a product operates as expected in multiple locations, languages, and cultures. It is different from localization testing which focuses on adapting the product to a specific language and culture. Globalization testing ensures that the product is capable of functioning in multiple cultures, while localization testing ensures that it is tailored to the needs of a specific culture. To summarize, globalization and localization testing are essential components of the software development lifecycle. By leveraging the right resources and technologies, companies can make sure that their products are accessible to a global audience, culturally appropriate, and relevant to their target markets. Additionally, automation and AI technologies can be used to optimize the testing process and improve the overall testing outcomes.”

Harrison advises “Best practices for conducting globalization and localization testing include developing a comprehensive testing strategy, ensuring that the testing is conducted by personnel with the appropriate language and cultural expertise, and leveraging automation and AI to streamline the testing process. Companies should also ensure that their products are culturally appropriate and relevant to their target markets.”

These case studies demonstrate the benefits of conducting comprehensive globalization and localization testing, adapting products and services to different languages and cultures, and using automated testing tools to streamline the process.

Summary

Consider this article your 101 guide to Globalization Testing. Start with the definition of Globalization Testing – a software testing technique used to check if a software application is in line with the cultural and regional expectations of an international user base. This goal is achieved through two sub-categories of Globalization Testing – localization testing and internationalization testing. 

Scroll further, and you’ll find a deep dive into the “how” of globalization testing – how to run globalization tests on real browsers and devices. We’ve also discussed the advantages and purpose of this form of software testing and delved into the two types of globalization testing in some detail. 

This is the article you begin with when commencing your research into globalization testing. Learn the basics here, and you’ll know what your test planning, strategy, and project budget needs to accommodate and excel with globalization testing.

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