Localization Testing: Tips and Tricks for RTL Language Websites and Apps

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Exadel RTL Testing

For more details about localazition testing read our previous article Introduction to Localization Testing.

Localization Testing is a software testing technique that helps to assess whether an application or a website is suitable for a specific region or locale or in terms of functionality and usability. Localization testing aims to test linguistic accuracy, typesetting errors, UI usability, and sociocultural dimensions for a specific locale with particular focus on ensuring that information is presented correctly and appropriately for languages that require special consideration.

Testing Right-to-Left Languages

The fundamental difference between left-to-right (LTR) and right-to-left (RTL) language scripts is the direction in which content is displayed: 

  • LTR languages display content from left to right
  • RTL languages display content from right to left.

In most languages, text is written from left to right. The right-to-left writing (and reading) direction is particular to Hebrew, Arabic, and some Asian languages. You can find a list of languages written right-to-left here.

For QAs who are less familiar with right-to-left languages, it can be complicated to provide relevant and high-quality testing for these specific situations. So, to make it a bit easier, our experts have provided their top tips and tricks.

While testing RTL websites locally, you should “think from the right”. It can be a daunting task, especially when you do it for the first time. So, pretend it’s a children’s spy game where you use a mirror to read a secret code. 

Considering our extensive experience in software testing including RTL testing, let’s talk about potential problems and solutions.

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RTL Languages: Challenges and Solutions

1. Typography

  • A text should not only be aligned to the right, but the text direction should also be read from right to left. Pay attention to punctuation placing: a text should never start with punctuation.
  • RTL languages often use far fewer capital letters than LTR languages.
  • If an RTL text includes words or digits in an LTR language (e.g., international phone numbers, company names in English), the LTR text should still be written and read from left to right. Neither letters in words nor numerals in LTR languages should be put in the reverse order. This information should be displayed on RTL websites exactly as it is on LTR websites, as with the below example:Exadel RTL Testing

2. Numerals, symbols, and dates

  • Numbers are read from left to right even in RTL languages, so pay close attention to the formats of dates, times, phone numbers, codes, and numerical quantities to make sure they are correct.Exadel RTL Testing
  • There are two numeric systems: Western and Eastern Arabic numerals. Generally, most Arabic-speaking countries use the traditional Western Arabic numerals. Nevertheless, some Arabic-speaking countries use Eastern Arabic numerals more prevalently (Iran and Afghanistan, for instance). Some countries use both numeric systems. Since the use of numerals may differ regionally, this point should be taken into consideration while performing localization testing.Exadel RTL Testing
  • Symbols should be put in the correct place: all signs such as “%,” labels for thousands and millions, currency symbols, etc. should be on the left side of the number.Exadel RTL Testing
    Exadel RTL Testing
  • Dates should be displayed in international date format. Although Arabic-speaking users will have their own calendar, the international format is familiar to almost every internet user.Exadel RTL Testing

3. Scrollbars

  • Scrollbars should come into view from the left. This applies both to the overall page as well as content within a page, drop-down lists, long text fields, etc.

4. Dropdown fields

  • Dropdown indicators should be on the left side of fields. Remember that the scroll bar will also be on the left, if the list of values is long enough. See the example below comparing the LTR and RTL in English and Arabic respectively:Exadel RTL Testing

5. Checkbox fields

  • Field labels should be displayed on the left, followed by checkboxes on the right. Radio buttons should also be to the right of the field label.Exadel RTL Testing Exadel RTL Testing

6. Bulleted and numbered lists

  • Bullets or numbers should be displayed before the value (i.e., on the right) in the appropriate list.
    Exadel RTL Testing

7. Buttons

  • Buttons should move position to the left.  For instance, if you have a button with an arrow shift while hovering over the button, then for RTL pages the button will point to the left instead of pointing to the right as it does for LTR pages.Exadel RTL Testing

8. Form fields

  • When typing into a field, the characters should appear from the right and successively appear from right to left.Exadel RTL Testing

9. Carousels

  • Active carousel dots should be the mirror of LTR pages. After a page loads, the first active carousel card corresponds with the first left dot for LTR and the first right dot for RTL languages.Exadel RTL Testing

10. Icons

  • Flipping icons in RTL pages should be executed with some caution, as it’s not always necessary to mirror icons.
  • Symmetrical icons and icons without an explicitly specified direction (user profile, search, social networks, etc.) shouldn’t be flipped:Exadel RTL Testing
  • Icons with an explicit direction should be flipped (e.g. the back button should point to the right in the RTL version).
    Exadel RTL Testing
  • Icons relating to text direction should be flipped (e.g. text alignment icons, progress charts, etc.).
    Exadel RTL Testing

Bear in mind the cultural peculiarities or alternate meanings of symbols. Some icons that are commonly used in LTR pages may potentially lead to problems in RTL pages. For example, in some Arab countries, mainly Iran and Iraq, the thumbs-up is considered to be a highly offensive gesture, like showing someone the middle finger in the West; several Middle Eastern countries, such as Kuwait, deem the OK sign as insulting and denoting the evil eye. So, an awareness of what pictorial signals and gestures might commonly represent in other cultures is important. 

11. Video and audio players

  • Video and audio player icons and progress bars should not be mirrored because they correspond to the direction of a playback process.Exadel RTL Testing

Are you interested in localizing RTL testing?

Consult our QA team to find out more information and improve your testing process.

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Wrapping It Up

Internalization and localization deserve special consideration if you want to be a true global business and successfully interact with your customers in diverse locales. Attention to regional cultures and languages will let your customers know that you care about their needs and comfort and respect their cultures – going beyond just increasing and broadening your customer base. And this article provides the most important and widespread tips on how to perform localization testing effectively.

Check out our previous articles – QA best practices. 

Author: Maryna Varabyova