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How to Test Multilingual Websites

June 17, 2023
multilingual website

In pursuit of providing a better user experience, companies vouch for a multilingual website. It provides a localized experience for users to reach and browse a website or webshop. They can find products, services, or blog posts in their native or rather familiar language. Moving to a multilingual website becomes mandatory when a business has to serve people from different ethnicities. It requires some expertise in offering language variations of a website and continuous effort in maintaining it. This guide will reveal some regular maintenance procedures for testing a multilingual website. Please give it a read to manage it the way professionals do. 

What to consider before testing multilingual websites?

The quality assurance team is tasked with testing a multilingual website to check whether it works well. They need to consider different things before carrying out the testing procedures. Following are some of the factors they have to look after as these will help them understand the scope of testing.  

Know the website design. 

The design of a multilingual website differs concerning the business model, industry and niche, and region it aims to target. We can categorize website designs into three forms. The first is the single home page with slight translations to hint about its multilingual existence. The second one is the multi-home page website, where users can select a language and get a translated home page version. The third one is designed with a separate home page with each target language. The website development and design can help you form a testing plan. You cannot devise a plan if you are unaware of a website’s design, layout, and technology.

Understand website functionality 

You cannot assure whether things are working well without knowing how things work. The quality assurance team must get familiarized with the website’s functionality. It starts with website variations in language, currency, and storefronts. The person liable to test the website must know if the website is automatically redirecting users to respect the language version of the home, product, or service page. They must know whether the IP database is used to recognize users’ regions.  

Find the website type.

A multilingual website can be of any type or form. It can be a news or blog site that aims to educate and inform people of multiple regions in their local languages. It can be an eCommerce website that sells products in multiple states. It can be a service-based website that serves people across borders with professional skills and expertise. The testing depends on the type of multilingual website.  

How to test a multilingual website? A step-by-step guide

Launching and managing a multilingual website is a challenging job. It is not just about maintaining a few pages with language variations. It may require the web admin to pay attention to detail, understand the cultural differences of multiple language speakers, and remove technical glitches. Translation of one language to another may also consume a lot of time and effort. 

We cannot run it quickly through the tools and translation engines. A word or phrase may never be translated into another language with the exact same meaning or context. It needs to be refined by a native speaker to remove meaningless or sometimes offensive concepts for a community, which may not be the same for others. 

In addition to translation, one has tackled various other issues in the testing. Follow the guide below to come up with errors, mistakes, and suggestions for improvements.

Step 1: Draft a well-rounded plan

Start drafting a plan once the team is well aware of the scope and nature of a multilingual website. Go on to create a localization strategy or review if there is an already developed strategy for it. Consider the languages a website aims to target, know the cultural context, and select an effective translation approach. Contact native speakers or professional translators to ensure the content conveys the same message. 

Step 2: Verify Translations for Accuracy

Review the source content, consider it a communication standard, and compare its translated versions for accuracy and brevity. Take help from different tools for a quick review. Use grammar and correction tools to check sentence structures, spelling mistakes, and content coherence. Plain language is easy to translate. However, one must be skeptical about translations if the source content includes metaphors, idioms, and clichés. These words and phrases convey a meaning different than their syntactic appearance. 

Step 3: Check Language Switching

For a multilingual website, ensuring the languages are switched concerning users’ location and region is significant. In most websites, the functionality works automatically by acquiring users’ IP addresses and matching them with a database to recognize the region they belong to. The quality assurance team must test the language switching from different IP addresses if such is the case. However, on some websites, there is a dropdown menu of languages for the users to select their preferred one. It also needs to be tested for its consistency.  

Step 4: Examine text expansion and contraction

Text length and style may be different between languages. We have to manage the languages that are written from left to right and right to left. The design and layout must align with each language’s writing style and length. There should not be any text expansion and contraction on a product, service, or home page. Check the text to improve the design if it is overlapping. 

Step 5: Validate Visual Elements

In addition to the text, the visual content also needs to be checked and validated. It includes elements like dropdown menus, forms, and navigational bars. Different signs and symbols used in the content may need an interpretation in other languages. Ensure such signs are not creating technical issues or hindering the display of other design and text elements. 

Step 6: Quick SEO audit 

Search engine optimization (SEO) becomes complex when dealing with multilingual websites. It is a tricky and significant part of the overall digital marketing efforts and is ignored the most. To ensure the home or product pages appear in local searches, you must examine the keywords used in the text of each language variation. If these pages are not localized, you must start with keyword research. Carry a quick SEO audit to check whether keywords are placed in important areas of a web page.  

Step 7: Device and browser compatibility check 

A website that aims to reach out to speakers of multiple languages must load properly regardless of the browser and device they use. To ensure compatibility, check the website on several browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Carry the same for the device compatibility check. Try visiting the website using smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers of varying screen sizes. To improve the computability issues, you can incorporate a customer satisfaction app to ask the users about their browsing experience. 

Final thoughts 

Following the steps we discussed in this post can help you effectively test a multilingual website. Working with a group of local clients is common and easier. However, things become complex when you have to deal with people of different languages, cultures, and ethnicities. A multilingual website aims to deal with it with translations and other modifications to provide a localized browsing and shopping experience. Everything needs to be perfect, relevant, and inoffensive to serve them on your website.

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