Localization Quality Assurance: Your In-Depth Guide

Adedamola Ojedokun
01 Sep 2023

13 min. read


The first thing you’ll notice about localization: it’s messy. Mistranslations, typos, and omissions. Broken layout and encoding errors.

Well, maybe not that last thing, but you get the idea. To avoid the aforementioned horrors, conduct localization quality assurance (LQA).

And we’ll help you along the way.

Pro tip: To automate and manage your localization QA process, use a professional localization management suite – Centus. Learn more.

What is localization quality assurance (LQA)?

what is localization quality assurance Localization quality assurance is the process of ensuring that localized content is accurate, engaging, and relevant for its target audience. The purpose of localization quality assurance is to detect and correct any flaws that may develop throughout the multiple stages of localization. This includes linguistic errors, cultural faux pas, formatting and layout issues, or any other flaws that could negatively affect the overall user experience or harm the brand's reputation in the target market.

In a nutshell, localization QA is the final checkpoint before a product or piece of content is distributed in a new market, ensuring that it meets the expectations and preferences of the local audience.

Types of localization quality assurance

types of localization quality assurance

Different types of localization quality assurance tackle different aspects of the localization process. The main types include:

Linguistic QA

Linguistic quality assurance focuses on the accuracy and fluency of the translated content. Linguistic testing professionals, who are generally native speakers of the target language, thoroughly analyze the translations for grammar, syntax, and vocabulary mistakes.

They also guarantee that the tone and style of the localized content match the expectations of the target audience.

Visual QA

Visual quality assurance focuses on the aesthetic and graphical aspects of localized content. It entails ensuring that the layout, formatting, and design components are not altered during the translation process.

The visual QA team checks that the translated text fits inside the available area and that there are no text truncation or layout issues.

Functional QA

Functional quality assurance is the process of testing the functioning of localized software or products. The functional testing team ensures that all features, buttons, menus, and navigation elements function properly in the localized version.

To avoid functionality flaws, localization testers should run regression testing after every major step of the software localization process. This is particularly crucial in game localization QA.

Performance QA

Performance quality assurance evaluates the overall performance of a localized product or software in terms of speed, responsiveness, and stability.

The QA team ensures that the localized version performs as well as the original version and that the performance does not decline.

Benefits of localization quality assurance

Localization quality assurance testing plays a key role in ensuring that a product or piece of content is effectively and accurately adapted to the language, culture, and preferences of a target market. The key benefits that you can enjoy from implementing localization QA include:

Ensuring translation quality

ensuring translation quality Source: Unsplash

Localization quality assurance allows for ensuring translation quality. By running rigorous QA tests, you can prevent misunderstandings or misinterpretations caused by inaccurate translations.

Linguistic QA testers suggest that by ensuring the linguistic integrity of your localized content, you can maintain or even improve your overall brand image.

Ensuring visual quality

ensuring visual quality Source: Unsplash

Images, graphics, and user interfaces are essential components of the user experience. Professionals carefully examine visual aspects during translation QA to ensure they are contextually relevant, culturally sensitive, and appropriate for the target audience.

Localization QA ensures that the localized content has the same level of visual appeal as the source content, thereby improving the user experience and engagement.

Testing functionality

testing functionality Source: Pexels

Software localization QA thoroughly tests the localized product to ensure that all functionalities work properly in the target locale.

It ensures that the localized versions of software applications, websites, and digital platforms function properly and provide an enjoyable user experience for international users.

Detecting unlocalized strings

detecting unlocalized strings Source: Unsplash

Unlocalized strings (which are usually untranslated) might create an unsettling experience for users in the target market.

Example: Localization QA allows discovering untranslated form tooltips, button text, menu items, or even content titles.

Localization QA detects and fixes unlocalized strings, thereby ensuring that every aspect of the product or content is properly translated.

8 Best practices for localization quality assurance

To make your localized content taste just as delicious as the original, follow these best practices: best practices for performing localization quality assurance

1. Understand the basics of localization

Imagine being in a busy market where different cultures and languages are flowing all around you. That's what localization is all about – a magical fusion of words, emotions, and culture.

You may ask, "Isn't it just about translating words from one language to another?" Ah, if only it were that simple! Localization entails breaking down linguistic barriers and creating a real relationship with your global audience.

It's like taking your content on a global tour, ensuring it finds its way into the hearts of the diverse communities it comes into contact with.

Each greeting, from "Bonjour" to "Namaste" to "Hola," reveals a unique cultural tapestry that lights up your content. But be careful: one wrong step can land you in a linguistic quicksand of misunderstandings.

Here's your guide to mastering the basics of localization:

  • Immerse yourself in the rhythm, cadence, and colloquialisms of the target language. Learn the local lingo and all it entails.
  • Research your target region's traditions, customs, and beliefs. Celebrate diversity and recognize that what works in one culture may not work in another.
  • Look beyond the surface meaning to discover the emotions, wit, and deeper meanings of localized text.
  • Avoid the word-for-word trap. Literal translations might result in mishaps or confusion. Remember that the goal is to express the essence, not to follow a word-for-word GPS.
  • Team up with native speakers and local specialists. They will be your guides, mentors, and companions during the localization QA process.
  • Keep up with the trends and changes of the ever-evolving target language and culture.

2. Plan and strategize your QA process

Planning and structuring your localization testing process can be likened to preparing for the most spectacular performance of your life. Here are the steps to take:

  • Start by identifying your goals and objectives. Read the localization brief. Understand the essence of your content and the message you wish to communicate to the world.
  • Establish realistic deadlines that allow for translation lead times, revisions, and any unforeseen issues along the way.
  • Assemble a dream team of linguistic experts for successful QA. Choose translators, proofreaders, and language specialists who are well-versed in the target culture.
  • Seek constructive feedback and refine your process. It's all about continuous progress, so if something doesn't work out, pick yourself up and try again.
  • Encourage your team to experiment with new tools and try out new approaches. Remember that innovation is the secret sauce that separates you from the competition.
  • Perform a final checklist to ensure that everything is in order. Are the style guides current? Are all of the localization tools working properly? Have you double-checked the cultural references?

3. Verify translation accuracy

This isn't about those hit-or-miss autocorrects. Check that your translations are not only accurate but also perfectly communicate the desired idea.

Here's how to make sure your translations are accurate:

  • Collaborate with language experts to retain the core of your material in all languages.
  • Capture your content's emotions across languages to create a global connection with your audience.
  • Pay attention to details and ensure that the translated text aligns with the expectations of the target culture.
  • Beware of words that look familiar but have different meanings in another language.
  • Aim for translations that will resonate with your target audience and bring a standing ovation from your international audience.

4. Check grammar and spelling

Picture this: you've spent hours crafting the ideal message, choosing each word with care like a pro wordsmith, and then a rogue error pops up, marring your localization outcomes.

Here’s what you need to do to ensure there are no grammar and spelling mistakes in your translation:

  • Proofread your content. Read it aloud or let a teammate read it to you. Doing this will help you sneaky typos and unwieldy sentences before you distribute your localized material.
  • Bone up on grammar and spelling rules, capitalization preferences, and sneaky homophones.
  • Seek the expertise of grammar-savvy colleagues to ensure that your content is error-free and accurate.
  • Before distributing your localized content, test it across different devices, browsers, and platforms. This will make your words move gracefully in every corner of the world.

5. Spot potential cultural issues

Cultural misunderstandings are the ultimate localization destroyers. But worry not! You're about to learn how to successfully solve this.

  • Research your target region's cultures, traditions, and taboos. Understand the dos and don'ts, and you'll be more prepared to avoid cultural stumbling blocks.
  • Seek advice from native speakers or cultural consultants who can provide valuable insights into their culture's do’s and don’ts. They can help you fine-tune your content so that it speaks to the hearts of your international customers.
  • Exercise extreme caution when using graphics and symbols in your content. What is harmless in one culture may be insulting in another. Choose imagery carefully to avoid inadvertent cultural blunders.
  • Wordplay and jokes may not translate well, so be mindful of the humor you use in your content.
  • Beware of topics that may be considered sensitive or contentious in certain regions. Respect cultural boundaries.
  • Avoid ableist, ageist as well as racially, ethnically, or religiously exclusive language that may unintentionally alienate specific groups. Embrace neutral vocabulary and terminology that enhances inclusivity.
  • Assemble a diverse group of localization QA testers from different cultural backgrounds to assess your content. Their input will be crucial in fine-tuning your content for global appeal.

6. Test layout and formatting

Localization is as much a celebration of meanings as it is a celebration of aesthetics and design. Your content should look great in every language, which is where layout and formatting QA come in.

Here’s how to ensure that your layout and formatting do not interfere with your localization efforts:

  • Ensure that your translated text blends well with the graphics. Look for odd overlaps and misalignments.
  • Ensure that your fonts support all the characters of the target language. Nobody wants to see the dreaded "Tofu" (▯) when the font cannot handle certain characters.
  • Test the responsiveness of your content across several platforms, from smartphones to computers. Nothing ruins your localization efforts like a content jive that trips on a smaller screen.
  • Since different languages can have different word lengths, you must ensure that your translated content fits your layout. Watch out for overflowing or truncated text.
  • Colors depict emotions and establish the tone of your content. Ensure your color choices are culturally appropriate and do not contradict any language-specific associations.
  • Check that all the hyperlinks in your content work properly in all languages and redirect your audience to the right destinations.
  • Ensure your line breaks, hyphenation, and paragraph spacing improve the flow of your content. Nobody wants to read anything tiring when they could be twirling smoothly across your page.

7. Evaluate customer experience

Customer service plays a key role in localization quality assurance by providing feedback from real users. The feedback can help you detect errors in the localized content.

Feedbacks also help you find cultural or usability issues that the localization team may have missed.

Here are the steps you can take to evaluate customer experience like a pro:

  • Learn about your customers’ cultures, languages, and preferences. Understand their anxieties, aspirations, and pain points. The better you know them, the better you can meet their specific language requirements.
  • Refine your material in light of the information you've gathered. Adjust the tone, style, and messaging to reflect the preferences of your audience. By doing so, you will build an emotional bond that crosses borders.
  • Conduct extensive A/B testing to determine the winning formula. Modify your content and track the results. Continue to refine until you find what works for your international audience.
  • Ensure the user experience is smooth and enjoyable whether it's a website, app, or social media platform. This will keep your viewers returning for more.
  • Ensure that your content serves the diverse needs of your audience. From accessibility features to accommodating different cultural practices, inclusivity plays a key role in creating a memorable global image.

8. Leverage localization technologies

Centus UI Embrace the power of technology to create an efficient and effective localization QA process.

Using technology will save you time and resources while also streamlining your game localization testing process. It’s especially important in game localization testing.

Use the following technologies to enable smooth localization QA:

  • Translation management systems (TMS)
  • Automated quality assurance tools
  • Collaborative platforms
  • Translation memory (TM)
  • Terminology management tools
  • Machine translation (MT)
  • Real-time testing environments
  • Version control systems

Pro tip: To streamline, automate, and manage your localization QA process, use a professional localization platform – Centus. Learn more.

Localization quality assurance checklist

To streamline your localization QA process, follow our checklist below:

Linguistic QA

Ensure that all translations are contextually accurate and culturally appropriate.

Check the localized material for grammatical and spelling errors.

Ensure that terminology and style are consistent throughout all translations.

Make sure the localized text fits within the layout limits.

Visual QA

Ensure that images, visuals, and icons are culturally relevant.

Look for any discrepancies between the source and localized versions of graphic elements.

Confirm that the date, time, and numeric formats in graphics are correctly adapted.

Ensure that localized user interface elements are appropriately aligned and displayed.

Functional QA

Thoroughly test the functionality of the localized product.

Ensure that all localized features function properly and match the source language version.

Ensure that localized text does not overlap or truncate UI components.

Look for any broken links or issues with localized URLs.

Performance QA

Evaluate the performance of the localized product in various language situations.

Ensure that the localized version works without a decline in performance.

Confirm that the loading times are appropriate for the intended audience.

Unlocalized strings

Identify any untranslated strings in the localized version.

Ensure placeholders, variables, or dynamic content are properly localized.

Cultural sensitivity

Look for potentially harmful or improper content based on cultural standards.

Ensure that pictures, symbols, and metaphors correspond to the preferences of the target culture.

Verify the appropriateness of localized idioms, metaphors, and humor.

Platform and device compatibility

Run the localized content on multiple devices and operating systems.

Ensure that the localized version functions properly on all target platforms.

Audio and video QA

Check the accuracy of the localized voice-overs and subtitles.

Ensure that audio and video elements are properly synchronized with the images.

Contextual testing

Examine the localized content about the whole product or website.

Ensure that the localized material is consistent with the overall user experience.

User acceptance testing (UAT)

Involve native speakers and representatives from the target audience in the UAT process.

Gather user feedback and insights to fine-tune the localized product.

Documentation and reporting

Create an accurate quality assurance report for all bugs, defects, and their resolutions.

Use a standardized reporting structure when communicating issues to stakeholders.

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