UX Testing. Or Why It’s Not Enough to Just Translate an App, Website or Program

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Why is it important to test an application after it’s been translated, but before it goes live? The answer is user experience.

Do you taste the food you’ve cooked before serving it to your guests? Of course – after all, you want to make sure they’ll enjoy it. And the same principle applies to products: you want to ensure that your app, website or program offers users an enjoyable experience right from the moment they open it. This is where UX testing comes into play.

What is UX testing?

UX stands for user experience. It’s important to test this quality after the translation is completed to ensure that the translated version of an application is just as functional, visually pleasing and linguistically effective as the original.

The traditional process for a product launch goes something like this: the design team creates a draft of the interface, the project managers coordinate the content either internally or via an agency, and the development department then programs and tests the feature. This all requires time, energy and money. Once the product has been successfully launched, the process is repeated with versions for other markets. However, sentence lengths can change in translation – and in some cases, so can the script, from an alphabet to characters or vice versa. To guarantee the same quality in the translation as in the original, the UX needs to be thoroughly tested again before publication.

What exactly gets tested?

Language services providers test the user-friendliness of the website, app or program. Is it simple and intuitive to use in the new language? Are there translation errors that only become apparent in context? Or display issues such as character limits for headings, button texts or navigation options? Do any sections need to be shortened or rewritten?

If you’re following the process described above – launching the product in a single language to begin with, then following it up continuously with versions in other languages – this is the moment to spot and fix any issues. Our language teams use the appropriate tools for the job, such as TestFlight, which shows all the texts in the original layout, even in the beta version of an app. This provides a realistic user experience.

What advantages does testing offer?

Plenty:

  • It means products can be presented consistently across all native app pages and webpages.
  • It makes the user experience functional, simple and intuitive – regardless of the language, market or end device.
  • It removes the need for additional bug fixes or rounds of revisions afterwards, which means a shorter time to market and lower overall costs.
  • It prevents poor initial user experiences with the app – which may lead to negative product ratings. This improves the reputation of the company in question.
Why should linguists be involved?

Product tests are valuable across the board. Programmers test an app’s functionality and technical aspects, and linguists do the same for its language. If you need to shorten, rewrite, remove or rethink elements of your app or website, it pays to have a native speaker involved.

Knowledge of SEO is also important, as keywords can rarely be translated directly, and a new market may require a new round of keyword research. Good linguists are also well-versed in the culture of their target audience, so they’re familiar with measurement norms (feet vs. meters) and standard date formats, as well as with the cultural associations of particular colors, icons and imagery.

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Angela Lanza-Mariani

Where others juggle balls, Angela prefers to juggle words. After completing a master’s in German and communication, she worked as an ad writer, freelancer journalist and schoolteacher. At Supertext, she writes and manages its website and other digital communication channels, providing the right words in the right place at the right time.