Words from the Wardrobe
app localization testing

Why you should run an app localization testing

Testing is a critical stage in the localization process


Have you ever checked how many apps you have installed on your smartphone? Without counting the default apps, we are always installing and uninstalling apps to suit our needs.

We have been using apps long before smartphones existed and every day hundreds more are released to make our lives easier.

Even though I have a good command of English, I feel more comfortable using apps in my language. Also, it’s how I make ends meet; I’m a localizer after all. I know this is not very objective, but there are many facts to support why app localization can be useful to boost your app downloads.

Localization is the process of translating and adapting a product to suit a local language and culture. In the case of app localization, this may involve adapting units of measure, currencies and payment methods, depending on the type of app in question.

One of the last, but no less important, steps of the localization process is the testing phase.

Testing is performed by translators who not only check if the translation meets the client’s standards, they also ensure the app is suitable for native users. After all, translators are native speakers who are potential users of the products they translate.

I recently worked on an interesting app localization testing for PlanetArt, an app developer from Calabasas, in California. I had to test two of their apps, FreePrints and FreePrints Photobooks.

Both apps allow you to print photos from your smartphone. With FreePrints, you can print your photos in a variety of formats, including a picture frame, while FreePrints Photobooks lets you create fully customisable photo albums. You have plenty of layout options and the process is very straightforward. Once you place your order, you receive your prints or photo albums at home in about a week.

The testing phase comes after the text has been translated and reviewed. Although there should not be any translation errors at this stage, it is very often the only opportunity for the translator to see the text in context. So, this in-context review may also involve some changes to the translation.

What did I check during this app localization testing?

Apart from testing the whole process and seeing if it was easy to follow, I had to pay special attention to specific language issues, such as:

–    Corrupted characters. Special characters such as ñ, á, ó or ú may appear corrupted if the app is not correctly internationalized before proceeding to localization. Internationalization is the process of preparing your software code so it can easily be adapted to local languages and cultures.

–    Units of measurement. Photos are measured in centimetres in Spain. I therefore had to check that all photo, frame and photo book sizes were in the correct unit of measurement. If you expect your users to get out a ruler and calculator to find out how big a 4×7” photo is, they are very likely going to uninstall your app and go for one that is correctly localized.

–    Prices. We all feel better when we have control over our expenses. To avoid losing trust from your potential users, you need to offer prices in local currencies and follow specific language conventions: this means that you need to use a comma to separate decimals in Spanish.

–    Menus and buttons. When translating from one language into another, the text may have more or fewer characters, and this may affect the app layout. During testing, you also need to check if the text fits the buttons, and be aware of the different screen sizes. I have a 6-inch smartphone, but I had to help the client find alternatives for some strings that may not have fit on smaller screens, such as “3 fotos seleccionadas”, for example. When there is no other option, we have to abbreviate the text but make sure the user can understand it.

–    Overall user experience. As I said, the translator is a native speaker and a potential user of the app, so when I am testing, I need to take off my translator hat and put on my user hat and think about how I am feeling when using the app.

  • Can I follow the process without asking for help?
  • Does the app offer me enough customisation options?
  • Is the payment process transparent and secure?
  • Should I have any queries, is the FAQ section readily available? Are the answers helpful?
  • What are my contact options?
  • Are the Terms and Conditions clear?
app localization testing, prices and photo sizes

Sizes and prices are some of the things we check during an app localization testing.

To succeed in a global world, merely localizing your app is not enough. If you want your app to be found in an ocean of millions of apps available on app stores, you need to localize the app store description too, which was also part of this project.

Sometimes testing is just a user scenario, but this time I had to place an order in both apps to test the quality of the product and the service. Below you can see the results: a set of photos, a photo frame and a photo album of my two cute pets.

app localization testing, products delivered

These are the products I received after placing a test order.

The products arrived fast, in less than one week; the photos are printed on high-quality photo paper, and I was kept up to date at each stage of the process, from order placement to order preparation and delivery. And, of course, it goes without saying that I also reviewed the content of all the emails I received.

Testing is the last and most important stage of the localization process, as it helps you forecast your app’s success in your target markets.

I wish PlanetArt all the best with their apps in Spain, and I have started to recommend them to my family and friends, as I enjoyed my experience. Did you know that you could get free prints and only pay for delivery? If you want to learn more, download FreePrints and FreePrints Photobooks from Google Play Store or Apple Store and start printing your snaps!

See you for the next post!



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