7 Basic Tips For Testing Multi-Lingual Websites

Explore useful tips for Testing Multi-Lingual Websites through this tutorial. Also, note the checklist for Multilingual Application Testing:

Nowadays a number of websites are deployed in multiple languages. As software organizations perform more and more business in several other/foreign countries, the number of such global multi-lingual web applications tends to increase considerably.

Testing web applications supporting multiple languages has its own fair share of challenges and risks in today’s fast-paced world. Since not everyone on the team is proficient in all languages, it will be difficult to test an application in ten languages in a limited amount of time and resources.

In this tutorial, we will discuss seven basic tips that will enable anyone to test multi-lingual browser-based applications thoroughly.

Testing Multi-Lingual Websites

Basic Tips To Test Multi-Lingual Browser-Based Applications

Tip #1: Prepare and Use the Required Test Environment (Dynamic Test Environment)

If a website is hosted both in English and Japanese languages, it is not just enough to simply change the default browser language and perform identical tests in both languages.

Rather, depending on its implementation, the website 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 application is to be tested from two machines i.e. one with the English operating system and the other with the Japanese operating system. You might want to keep the default settings on each machine as most of the 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 the meaning as well as context.

If such a person is not available to provide you with translations of the text, then the team might have to depend on automated web translations available on websites like wordreference.com and dictionary.com.

It is always better to compare automated translations from multiple sources before using them in the test.

Tip #3: Get Really Comfortable With the Application

As you might not know all the languages supported by the website, it is always better for you to be very conversant with the functionality of the website. It is certain that you will test the application far better if you know the application’s functionality thoroughly.

Having a clear understanding of the application and the flow will help in identifying the linguistic breaks that might occur in different language versions of the same website.

Execute the test cases in the English version of the site a number of times. This, in turn, will help you to navigate 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 (this indeed could slow down the testing).

Tip #4: Start With Testing the Labels

Start testing the other language versions of the website by first looking at all the labels, as labels are the most static controls on the web application. Labels are the primary interface help (tip/tooltip) for a user, thus one cannot afford to take any chances. Small mistakes here might prove costly in the future.

English labels are usually shorter and translated labels tend to expand. It is important to observe 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 other languages. QA people should check the spelling and contents of the translated label, to ensure accuracy.

Tip #5: Gradually Start Testing 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 website provides correct error notification messages in other languages.

The tests should include generating all the error messages. All the messages (e.g., success, file upload progress, etc.) that the application shows need to be auto-translated.

Tests should also be carried out on some other crucial UI control elements:

  • All tooltips should be displayed in the appropriate translated language.
  • All placeholders should be translated into the appropriate language.
  • All the tabs should have suitable titles as per the website’s regional language.
  • Exported files should exist in the appropriate language.
  • Verification should exist for content management and structuring, as people from some regions read from ‘left to right’, while people from some other regions read from ‘right to left’.
  • Checks should be carried out to verify file transfers.
  • The pop-up message box should show the correct message.

Usually, for any text that is not translated, three possibilities exist i.e. 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 (Character Encoding)

Usually, multi-lingual websites 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.

In the case of the Chrome browser, character encoding cannot be adjusted. It can only be possible by using the Chrome extension (use the ‘Set Character Encoding’ add-on for Chrome). Data in different languages can be easily represented in this format.

Make sure to verify the input data. It should be possible to enter the data in another language on the website. The data displayed on the website should be correct. The output data should also be compared with its translation and content.

Tip #7: Be Aware of Cultural Issues

A significant problem in multilingual website testing is that each language may be intended for visitors from a specific culture. There may be differences between how visitors from other regions perceive a website and how users in your area perceive it. One of the key considerations when testing a multilingual website is being culturally appropriate.

Since culture and language are interconnected, change in one tends to change in the other. Many factors like preferred (and not preferred) colors, text direction (this can be left to right, right to left, or top to bottom), the format of salutations and addresses, measures, currency, etc. are different in different cultures.

Not only should the other language version of the website provide correct translations, but the other elements of the user interface such as text directions, currency symbols, date and number formats, telephone numbers, ZIP codes, calendars, etc. should also be correct according to the culture.

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips based on the learnings:

  • Do not translate the terminology and UI elements while reporting bugs. This will help the QA people to track the test cases and execute them.
  • Prepare an ‘English’ to ‘<Selected Language>’ ‘internal’ glossary of the most common terminology and as many words as possible. This glossary can then be used by the QA people.
  • To reduce regression testing time, try to understand, document, and remember the critical fields and business rules. This will also help in improving ad-hoc and exploratory testing.
  • Increase the frequency of client communication to get any required help related to language testing.
    Prepare a document that includes all the possible pages with the translation of each label, menu, button, etc.
  • Testing by selecting smaller modules (micro to macro approach) and verifying them in other (foreign) languages and then moving ahead with the next modules are really beneficial.
  • Perform usability from the end-user (client) perspective.

Checklist for Multilingual Application Testing

  • Verify if the application automatically detects the language using geo-location (if it is supported).
  • Verify the labels for the text.
  • Verify whether error/success/warning messages are correctly displayed according to the language.
  • Verify if all the hyperlinks are functional and navigate to the respective pages.
  • Verify the date and number formats.
  • Verify if the browser title, page title, and all the breadcrumbs are translated and displayed correctly based on the detected language.
  • Verify the text on menus and mega menus. Also, check if menus are displayed correctly.
  • Verify if the alignment of text, images, icons, buttons, grid (table) columns, etc. is correct, as the length of the text varies depending on the language.
  • Verify if the currency symbols are displayed according to the detected/selected language.
  • Verify rendering of the font in responsive mode after translation in the respective language.
  • Verify whether the data is stored in UTF-8 encoded format.
  • Verify if the form submission (after adding data to the input fields) works seamlessly without any errors.
  • Verify if the text direction and flow of data is according to the language/culture.
  • Verify if the 404 page is available for the chosen language.

The basic testing process can include:

  • Design test cases based on the above-mentioned checklist.
  • Executing test cases on different language versions of the application (in short executing tests in different languages).


As you might have understood from the above discussion, using the correct test environment, getting enough application knowledge, and acquiring correct translations are critical in performing a successful test of other language versions of a website.

It would be great if you could share your thoughts on Testing Multi-Language Websites in the comments section below.

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