The Key to Ensuring a Successful Multilingual Website
(Originally published April 2011)
With more than 1.5 billion people worldwide accessing the internet on a regular basis and more than 70% of them being non-native English speakers, what better way to protect your investment in website globalization than to test your site before it goes live? Testing can indeed boost your web traffic and help to expand your global reach by ensuring a successful multilingual website that keeps your customers coming back for more. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions to help you with this process.
What initial preparation should be done before launching the testing process? Prior to testing your website, start by doing some basic preparation, which includes checking that all necessary text is translated, all translated graphics are proofread, a sample file is uploaded before uploading all language files, and your test environment can support multiple testers.
What about developing a testing script? A pivotal step in preparing for multilingual website testing is to develop a very thorough, step-by-step script or series of test cases for your testers to follow. If at all possible, try out the script prior to sending it to your testers to ensure nothing is missing or unclear.
What should the script include? This script should include the following information:
• Website navigation with reference to each specific page to be tested, including a URL and, if needed, a screen shot of the page
• What actions to perform at each location (e.g. click a specific link, type a product name, etc.)
• What the expected result is (e.g. successful purchase of an item, receipt of appropriate error message, etc.)
What if there is no script? It is also possible to do ad-hoc testing (testing without a script) although this typically yields less thorough results and is usually only appropriate for smaller, very simple websites.
What steps and types of testing should be covered? Thorough multilingual website testing should include the following:
• Linguistic testing, which involves checking for specific language problems like typos, translation or terminology that is inappropriate in a specific context, missing translation, etc.
• Functional testing, which checks that the site is functioning properly in that language. This includes checking that links go to the correct location, language content is pulled from the correct repository, error messages display when appropriate, the e-commerce portions of the site function properly, etc.
• User interface validation, which tests for visual problems such as incorrect character display, text truncation, graphics not displaying correctly, etc.
When is there a need to re-test portions of the website? When bugs are found and fixed or significant updates are made to the site, those portions of the site should be re-tested on an as-needed basis.
What are the differences between on-site and remote testing?
On-site testing allows testers to work side-by-side with developers to facilitate a clear understanding of what needs to be done and readily address testers' questions, which is particularly helpful with larger, more complex deployments. The resulting increased efficiency often compensates for the cost of bringing testers on-site.
Remote testing, which is done off-site without a developer on hand to readily implement the changes and address any issues that may arise, can still be effective, particularly for smaller deployments. Very tight communication is crucial with remote testing as is having an extremely solid, clearly defined test script. The preferred reporting method also needs to be agreed upon in advance.
What types of reporting methods are available and should be used? Depending on your needs, methods of reporting issues (bugs) can range from using an Excel spreadsheet or a Word file to a more sophisticated bug tracking system.
What is a bug tracking system and how does it work? Bug tracking systems automate the process by allowing the tester to log a ticket that contains information on the issue to be corrected, which is sent to the developer to fix the issue. These tickets go back and forth from the tester to the developer until the issue is resolved. To determine which issues to address first, tickets are prioritized according to severity. You can purchase or create a bug tracking system or ask Syntes about developing one for you.
What types of information should be reported? Regardless of the method used, each issue that’s reported needs to include the following information:
• Location of issue (the URL and, when appropriate, a screenshot of the page)
• Description of the issue
• Solution to correct the issue
• Expected result once the issue is corrected
Multilingual website testing can make all the difference in providing a positive user experience that keeps customers coming back for more. Follow these basic steps and guidelines to implement an effective testing process that will ensure a successful website in any language!