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UI testing of language versions

Posted by Luca on 05-Mar-2021 18:46:09

Does it come as a surprise to you that the software you are using may have been developed in a different language?

This blog explains what linguists do to ensure that functionally, UIs do what they are meant to do, while offering the best UX possible in the localized version.

LANGUAGE ACCEPTANCE TEST – A 360° quality experience

Business Scenario

You are the manager of a banking corporation implementing a new crypto currency-based electronic cheque payment software to have an edge over your competitors, knowing that this can only be achieved through speed, safety and reliability. But before going live, you test its functionality.

You are half way through, have entered the required data, chosen a ledger, verified the list of out-and-in payments, and chosen the electronic cheque option. But when you hit the Clear button to start the electronic transfer between the two financial institutions and confirm the 'Are you sure you want to clear the cheques you just created?' prompt...

Puff, all your work disappears and on screen there is nothing but an empty list. Not the best user experience after all that work, right? But why did it go wrong?

In this specific scenario, the issue is not a wrongly coded functionality, but a localization error, caused by polysemy. To clear can mean both "to settle" (financially speaking) and "to remove".  And the linguist (or the machine translation) who probably was not made aware of the context had erroneously chosen the financial meaning over the general (it was a banking application, after all!) with the nefarious loss of data as a result.

Not the best user experience either, right? And do you want your clients to encounter this problem? For sure not.


Why Testing

Of course, this is a made-up scenario, but it shows how important it is to have UI texts which are clear, correct, untruncated and that correspond exactly to the termed underlying functionality in the user's language.

User Interference testing is essential to ensure the quality of the translated UIs. During a language acceptance test (LAT), native speakers test the software in their language and provide feedback on the linguistic correctness and suitability of the UI texts, as well as the overall user experience in terms of ease of navigation and user-friendliness.

Growing into testing

Testing activities are generally carried out on different devices (smart phones and tablets for mobile apps, desktop screens for back-office business applications).

Tests can be carried out live, with a simple review of "real-life" scenarios on screen and close involvement of the development to correct any error found.

Review of mobile device screenshots

Or according to simplified role-based paths providing access to back-end functionality (as for SAP Fiori). The higher the UX expectations in terms of performance and usability, the more stringent are usually the testing requirements.
In the SAP systems based on Fiori, the evaluation of the contextual quality of the translation requires an actual test.

How it’s done

Testing can be desceribed as an interactive game: testers check the screenshots,  report on the errors they find, and use the app as if they were the final user. In a role-based testing scenario, they can be, i.e. a Sales representative, or a support agent.

All testing steps are generally detailed in a specific test case workflow.

Example of a Test Case


Gains for All

This testing logic also bears lots of advantages from a linguistical point of view:

  1. Testing the product in action

The linguist, working as a tester, can follow through with the same actions and use all functionalities reserved for the future users of the software, once released: in an HR scenario, for instance, the linguist will be able to check, approve or reject a leave request just like an HR department would do.

  1. Increasing UI awareness

Thanks to this real-life experience, the linguist learns more about the UI, how it works and how it looks like – i.e. a leave request, an invoice, a bill of materials, a maintenance call, and so on.

  1. Proofing the translation quality

The linguist sees what a UI localisation error could cause in a productive system and how it could jeopardize the final outcome of a process or an action required by a customer. By locating the wrongly translated text in the translation system, the linguist gains immediate knowledge of an object type and whether the text needs to be adapted to avoid truncation (or the field extended). All words matter, even prepositions, which are often a cause of mistranslation if translated out of context. 

  1. Exploring new worlds

While working closely with the development, the linguist can have a taste of the fascinating world of software development, usually remote and not accessible, and developers understand how linguists work and learn to provide all information necessary to complete their tasks.

  1. That special team spirit

And last but not least – and personally an aspect I highly value – Linguistic acceptance tests often trigger a true spirit of interdisciplinary cooperation and exchange among testers. The linguists tasked with the testing can often offer precious insights to other testers and developers, further buttressing lively and group-wide cooperation, even in remote configurations.

Linguists often complete the test cases with further instructions or testing paths, especially in the case of feature-rich apps.

Prove and Improve

To sum it up, the LAT activities not only improve the general UX feel, ensure the quality and completeness of the UIs, and contribute to the overall reliability and user-friendliness of the app.

They also help the linguists understand what the app does, why it is used, and how it works. This enhances their overall awareness and appreciation for the product while highlighting their important contribution to the overall commercial success of the app.


Filed Under:

UI Testing, QA

Improve acceptance and usability with a LAT