7 basic tips for testing multi-lingual web sites

This is a guest article by: Inder P Singh

These days a number of web sites are deployed in multiple languages. As companies perform more and more business in other countries, the number of such global multi-lingual web applications will continue to increase.

Testing web sites supporting multiple languages has its own fair share of challenges. In this article, I will share seven tips with you that will enable you to test the multi-lingual browser-based applications in a complete way:

Tip # 1 – Prepare and use the required test environment

If a web site is hosted in English and Japanese languages, it is not enough to simply change the default browser language and perform identical tests in both the languages. Depending on its implementation, a web site may figure out the correct language for its interface from the browser language setting, the regional and language settings of the machine, a configuration in the web application or other factors. Therefore, in order to perform a realistic test, it is imperative that the web site be tested from two machines – one with the English operating system and one with the Japanese operating system. You might want to keep the default settings on each machine since many users do not change the default settings on their machines.

Tip # 2 – Acquire correct translations

A native speaker of the language, belonging to the same region as the users, is usually the best resource to provide translations that are accurate in both meaning as well as context. If such a person is not available to provide you the translations of the text, you might have to depend on automated web translations available on web sites like wordreference.com and dictionary.com. It is a good idea to compare automated translations from multiple sources before using them in the test.

Tip # 3 – Get really comfortable with the application

Since you might not know the languages supported by the web site, it is always a good idea for you to be very conversant with the functionality of the web site. Execute the test cases in the English version of the site a number of times. This will help you find your way easily within the other language version. Otherwise, you might have to keep the English version of the site open in another browser in order to figure out how to proceed in the other language version (and this could slow you down).


Tip # 4 – Start with testing the labels

You could start testing the other language version of the web site by first looking at all the labels. Labels are the more static items in the web site. English labels are usually short and translated labels tend to expand. It is important to spot any issues related to label truncation, overlay on/ under other controls, incorrect word wrapping etc. It is even more important to compare the labels with their translations in the other language.

Tip # 5 – Move on to the other controls

Next, you could move on to checking the other controls for correct translations and any user interface issues. It is important that the web site provides correct error messages in the other language. The test should include generating all the error messages. Usually for any text that is not translated, three possibilities exist. The text will be missing or its English equivalent will be present or you will see junk characters in its place.

Tip # 6 – Do test the data

Usually, multi-lingual web sites store the data in the UTF-8 Unicode encoding format. To check the character encoding for your website in mozilla: go to View -> Character Encoding and in IE go to View -> Encoding. Data in different languages can be easily represented in this format. Make sure to check the input data. It should be possible to enter data in the other language in the web site. The data displayed by the web site should be correct. The output data should be compared with its translation.

Tip # 7 – Be aware of cultural issues

A challenge in testing multi-lingual web sites is that each language might be meant for users from a particular culture. Many things such as preferred (and not preferred) colors, text direction (this can be left to right, right to left or top to bottom), format of salutations and addresses, measures, currency etc. are different in different cultures. Not only should the other language version of the web site provide correct translations, other elements of the user interface e.g. text direction, currency symbol, date format etc. should also be correct.

As you might have gathered from the tips given above, using the correct test environment and acquiring correct translations is critical in performing a successful test of other language versions of a web site.

It would be interesting to know your experience on testing multi-language web sites.




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63 comments ↓

#1 MANISH

Many thanks to this article. This is very useful for me as i am currently testing japanese and simplified chinese application

#2 Jiten Vala

This is indeed a good article. This article has opened up different possible erroneous areas while testing a Multi-Lingual Web application. Many thanks to this article.

#3 Kumar Anshul

Hi, these multi-lingual web sites tips had been a great help for me as currently I am testing web site which is in English and Japanese language. Testing is in very initial phase and we were struggling to finalise the approach for this testing, this article has been a great help in finalising an approach for my testing.

#4 hitesh shah

Thanks for this article , its very useful , i want to know about test cases – how to write test case (GUI, validation, Functionality).
thanks

#5 Mitrasen Singh

Indeed a nice article,
Can you please share some knowledge about Multi-institutional supports in testing.

Thanks

#6 samuel

Testing multi language web site is always a fun. I am on project of website internalization and multi language support is part of this project.
We find testing such application is very challenging and also fun work.
Besides testing testers can pay little attention over web site design also. Multi lingual web sites have some design standards like defining web page language in the head section
and converting meta tags to respective languages for SEO.
As a testers we can test these finer details to make multi language web site a success.

My wishes for this testing community..

#7 satyajeet

is it similar to WAI(Web Accessibility Initiative)Testing..where we chack across various GUI related Information…
also those who are perforing this testing can get more information on W3C site..

#8 Rajender

Hi,

I am working on a application with 12 different languages.Here we have to select the language from drop down while login to the application.

But we are using only one machine to test for all langauges.we are not using different operating systems.Does it means it is wrong process?
we will get the coverted words for different languages from the client.
we will verify the lables according to the data.

#9 Rene

Multi Lingual testing is very visual and can be tiresome on the eyes. The German umlaut and the French accent on the letter ‘e’ were often handled incorrectly and they either caused the application to crash (when the text was part of an error message), or the text that followed the special character would not be displayed at all. I’m now testing an English only accounting and distribution app., with seems to have a language of its own!

#10 Beena

Hi Vijay,
Very nice article. Thanx for the information.

#11 shubhangi

hi i am testing multilingual website. it is in initial phase please tell me about more about multilingual website. It is in english wants to convert in french & portugese

#12 Rajesh

hi all, i am Rajesh. i am new to testing. may i know that what is the organizational structure? that means what are the different designations in a company and in testing field, i.e. like project lead, test manager, team lead….etc. plz clarify me.

#13 Vishal Shinde

Its a great article as you have covered each aspect of multi language application testing. These are very useful tips which will surely help me during testing multi language application.

#14 Beena

hi,
very usefull….

#15 Mohan

Usefull article…… Please post the article covered the tips to test the business to business projects.

#16 Inder P Singh

Dear all,

Many thanks for your comments!

Hitesh,

Please refer the article on writing effective test cases that is available at http://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/how-to-write-effective-test-cases-test-cases-procedures-and-definitions/

Mitrasen,

Although a software application with multi-institutional support is naturally more complex than a similar one serving a single customer, their testing is fundamentally not different. However, the following points should be taken care of while testing the former:
1) The test environment should reflect multiple customers.
2) Application configuration and customer configuration functionalities should be tested carefully. Customer application functionality will be impacted by both the application configuration as well as customer configuration.
3) Data of one customer should be secure from the users of another customer.

Thanks,
Inder P Singh

#17 Inder P Singh

Rajender,

Are you working on a Windows based application or a web based application? Please note that a couple of these tips are for web-based applications only.

It will give you more confidence if you are able to use a test environment that is identical (or as similar as possible) to the one that will be used by the end-user. Therefore, if you are testing in Spanish and have a test machine with Spanish operating system, any problems that you see are likely to be the ones seen by the Spanish user.

Inder P Singh

#18 Inder P Singh

Hitesh,

Please refer the article on writing effective test cases that is available at http://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/how-to-write-effective-test-cases-test-cases-procedures-and-definitions/

Inder P Singh

#19 Inder P Singh

Mitrasen,

Although a software application with multi-institutional support is naturally more complex than a similar one serving a single customer, their testing is fundamentally not different. However, the following points should be taken care of while testing the former:
1) The test environment should reflect multiple customers.
2) Application configuration and customer configuration functionalities should be tested carefully. Customer application functionality will be impacted by both the application configuration as well as customer configuration.
3) Data of one customer should be secure from the users of another customer.

Thanks,
Inder P Singh

#20 Mitrasen Singh

thank you Inder. One issue…
Points 1 and 3 stated here comes under defn of multi-insti. Its ok !
Regarding topic 2…while testing application config for a particular institution treats it like single institutional. can you please tell what aspects are practices of testing might be implemented for multi-institutional platforms. For example we are testing a Credit Card application which can be sold to many banks, keeping them on instituition level. We are dealing them separately and no conflicts so for…Is there anything more we need to test ?

Thanks

#21 shyam

hi friends, i am into testing for few months, i have been assigned diffrent web applications to test (only GUI TESTING), I am putting my 100% effort to find each and every bug — but i cant, can any one help me out, what a areas to be concentrated— brief in very detail so i can falloew u

with regards
shyam

#22 Anuj Magazine

Nice points. Some random thoughts from my side on this subject-

– Sorting is another important areas that should be tested in the International websites. This can be tested in any areas of websites that displays the information in the tabular format. Sorting rules differ from locale to locale are a tricky proposition to test.
– Again, different countries may have different preferred payment types. If a website support multiple payment types, these should be throughly validated for default payment type in the website.
– There can be layout issues in the multi-lingual website. Because of string expansion, the text representation in different language wesbites will invariably differ primarily resulting in text truncations
– For a website being internationalized for the first time, it may be worthwhile exploring the use of Pseudo translation approach at the early stages of testing. It will help to find potential translation and hard coding issues much before actual translation has taken place.
– If fonts are not extarnalized properly, the different language websites may give text representation issues.
– After all this, imagine testing a Middle Eastern language- the whole paradigm of UI testing reverses in order to test Right to Left (RTL) UI.
– The Development guideline at the following URL may give some more ideas to test an International website-
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/archive/itsolutions/intranet/build/hal.mspx?mfr=true

Regards,
Anuj
http://anujmagazine.blogspot.com

#23 magesh

wonderful anuj, i appreciate you

#24 udhayakumar

Wonderful article……..Thanks for the information…..

#25 Maya

Hi,
Nice article….Inder
Write now I am working as a software tester and also learning Japanese. Can any one help me in knowing how to get into the multilingual testing job?

Thanks,
Maya

#26 vishal

Hi
Nice Points, Some points from my side.

-Placeholders ae another very important area to be checked by placeholders i mean the labels, some dynamic content on the header image and every static content or image should be changed keeping few things in mind that width size of the page and height should be dynamic because content used in other languages usually expands out as while I was testing a site designed in English was to be tested in Spanish, when the site was converted into Spanish the whole site gets distorted due to expansion of the text. So this is a major concerned as everything in multilingual site should be dynamic from width to height.

-Second important thing is that If site has some email templates, I mean email is sent for any notifications than the email templates for every languages should be designed keeping in mind that user of Spain will only understand Spanish language, so a mail in English can hamper the site functionality.

#27 Suhas

Indeed a great information

#28 Joy

Hi,

Thanks for the excellent article.
I wanted some advise from you on my career.
I am an expert in Japanese language and have good knowledge of C, C++, and Dot Net.
Currently I am thinking of doing a course in software testing.
What are the career prospects with my qualification?
Please could you also suggest some practice resources for the same.

Thanks in advance,

Joy

#29 Dhanaji Gurav

Hi,

Thanks for the excellent article.
This article helped a lot in understanding multi-lingual testing concept.

Thanks,
Dhanaji

#30 sirisha666

Respected Sirs and Madams, especially to Mr.Vijay,
i am sirisha, i am new to testing. whenever i go for some interview they are asking what is “Negative Testing”? and write some nagative test cases for Yahoo login window? please guide me.

#31 sirisha666

Respected Sirs and Madams, especially to Mr.Vijay,
i am sirisha, i am new to testing. whenever i go for some interview they are asking what is “Negative Testing”? and write some nagative test cases for Yahoo login window? please guide me.

#32 sirisha666

please comment on nagative testing and give me nagative testcases for log window

#33 Rajesh

@ sirisha666
Nagative Testing means testing aimed at showing software doesn’t work properly.
i am not exactly familiar to write “Nagative test cases for yahoo login window”. i hope some one will soon help you.

#34 sirisha666

hi, in an interview they asked me Nagative test cases for Yahoo log in window. i said nagative test cases are “testing invalid Id,Password”. in 3 interviews i gave same answer, but they refused and said “Testing invalid Id, Password is not Nagative testing and it’s Functional Testing” because,” if we give invalid Id, Password then corresponding error mesage should be displayed” is a Functionality(feature) hence it is Functional Testing. these are not my words, just i faced in interview. help me please.

#35 Rajesh

@sirisha
hi sirisha, i think you are bothering much about Nagative testing. Actually functional testing is two types. 1. Positive testing 2.Nagative testing. so testing the functionality with nagative intention i.e. test to fail intention is called nagative testing. nagative testing is nothing but testing with invalid data and try to break the system.
PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS

#36 rahul

@ sirisha666
see -ve testing is defined as application shd break for corresponding i/p.so ur answer is perfect..dont bother this.
u r absolutely right..

#37 sirisha666

@rahul
Thanks a lot. For my further doubts also please respond.

#38 sunita

hi
can anyone please send me the test cases/tips on
how to effectively test a social networking website?
Site is aimed at making families of friends.

#39 H!M@NSHU

Gr8 Article.. Covers all major aspects… Thnx

#40 Rohit

I have had the pleasure of testing multi lang applications (office 2007) and websites. I agree with this article. It is best to use two computers side by side (as long as the software are mirror images of eachother). This was, you can have computer which you can refer to when testing i.e. english software and the other being the software tested in another language.

This makes life a lot easier and means you are able to use the same test scripts over and over on different languages. Hence, meaning you save valuable time not re-creating scripts or localising them for testers. This has the added benifit for companies as they do not need to find additional resources that speak or read the language being tested.

However, the disadvantage of this is that testers will not be able to determine spelling mistakes within web apps as such and are only performing functionality checks. On the other hand, it is highly recommanded that the scripts are automated to save time and money.

Good article. Enjoyed reading it.

#41 Amit

Please specify, “What is the difference between .com and .co.in” for example google.com and google.co.in.

That is I know .com is commercial and .co.in for india.

#42 anil

hi,
very usefull for the testers

#43 pankaj07

Sir,what is multi-lingual website and please tell me abt positive and negetive testing ??????

#44 udit

Can you please share some knowledge about Multi-institutional supports in testing.

#45 ashish

Hello Amit,
Answer :
In General for Websites,
.com is for Commercial Websites Domians
.in is for india sites Domians
.uk is for united Kingdom sites Domians
.us is for United sites sites Domians

#46 FERRY

You got nice article here.. Thanks for the post

#47 Dillip

Thanks for the seven tips provided for testing multi-lingual websites. Till now, i have tested turkish & Dutch sites along with English verison. Certainly these tips will help me in testing & finding bugs in multi-lingual websites.

#48 Ram

Hi, I am a Black Box Tester.
Currently I am planning to test an application in English (Currently present), French, German, Japanese and Chinese. I have no experience with these languages and I have no idea on how to proceed. Please help.

Ram
sramkumar@sify.com

#49 PJ

Hi,
Thanks for the article it was helpful. I’m testing an application which is deployed in 15+ cultures. Though the through test is done by the people from the specific cultures I would like to simplify this task by automating most (at least the basic things like labels, etc.) items to be tested. Any suggestions on how I can go about doing this?

#50 Harshal

To set the encoding for all pages, add a Globalization property to the Web.config file.

#51 Jayesh Katariya

Cross browser compatibility can be added to this option, I have seen the issue with one of the IE version when testing Chinese locale, also same was not observed with other IE

Thanks and Regards,
Jayesh Katariya

#52 Thareesh

Thanks for the useful doc and I have a question .we are testing a Ukraine website where user will submit the form and data will get saved in DB.We are using toad and it wont accept ukranian charecters,so it will get saved in some other format (EX:¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿) So its very diffficult to identify whether correct value is getting updated in correct column or not.Can any one help me out?How we can made it easy to test?

#53 Rohini

Hi Inder,

Thanks for posting this article. Its very good & helpful. As i am working on 7 Multilingual website this tips is very help full. Site includes, English , Deutsch , Nederlands , Français , Português , Italiano , Español.

#54 Sachin

worth reading

#55 ravi

thq…. for the article vijay its very useful

#56 KP

Good one to Read

#57 Sartaj

Hi,
I have been testing Dutch and french sites since quite some time. I have few suggestions for the same.

If site search is incorporated in the multilingual site then try searching for a key word and click on the URL returned by the search. It would take us to that particular page. Now try changing the language and see if the system handles this.

Also, as the language change is stored in cookies, turn off cookies and then try changing the language and see if the system handles this by giving some proper error message or just crashes.

#58 nitin paighowal

hey we are the last year students of computer engineering branch…we r doing project on -“improving testing techniques and reliability for web based applications “…do let us know how to work on it..and where to start…..pls help

#59 Vesna

Hi,

Great article and comments.

Does someone knows what automated tools are good for testing multi lingual web sites.
Or any other tools that will save some testing time.
Thanks in advance
Vesna

#60 Atul

What should be severity for Multilingual Defects.
Since these defect can not cause any hang / crash so should these come in critical / major category.

#61 Loka

You should also mention how important the aspect of translation is. I am using a localization tool as a translator: https://poeditor.com/. Many developers need good translations in many languages for their websites and apps and this tool is really helpful when many translators have to work together.

#62 arunkumar

Can some one let me know how to estimate the efforts for testing an application in multiple languages or browsers or platforms? Does it take the same amount of time to test for multiple languages or can we skip some test cases (functioanlity) and focus only on scenarios \ cases which laguage is important (like lables \ text messages \ error messages e.t.c)

#63 Umesh

Very very thanx for this article, I am new in testing so I think it will help me

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