We live in a highly globalised digital world these days. And if you want your brand and its products to succeed internationally, multilingual UX testing is vital for localising your brand presence and offerings more in line with the market you’re targeting.
User research provides real feedback from different markets to see how users engage with your product and whether there are any common language barriers and specific cultural niches to be aware of. But how do you go about writing and carrying out these types of user tests for an international audience? How do you do it sensibly and effectively without marginalising, offending, or confusing certain groups?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is multilingual UX testing?
Let’s start with the basics. Multilingual UX testing is the research that brands, product owners, or expert UX consultants like us carry out. It’s all about recognising the importance of accommodating different languages to resonate with local markets and ultimately create user-friendly experiences for all. Why? To examine how users interact with certain products in their native language.
It’s more than just language
The communicative power of language goes way beyond just translated words on your website too – the importance of UX design language revolves more around embracing local audiences as individuals with unique needs, preferences, and habits.
The better you reach diverse markets with tailored experiences, the stronger your user engagement.
Why is multilingual remote user testing so important?
So, what are the benefits of carrying out multilingual remote user testing?
Gather wide-ranging demographic insights Each language group has their own nuanced traditions and social norms, which might only be uncovered thanks to thorough multilingual research. Identifying cultural differences means you’re equipped with a diverse set of data and insights that help you localise your products accordingly. When dealing with different demographics, residencies and nationalities, it’s also mandatory to speak their native language to avoid language bias.
Identify must-know cultural differences People from different countries might interact with your products in different ways compared to the local market you’re used to. Global success becomes more achievable when you’re clued up on what different people like, what they dislike, what their common pain points are, and what they might expect from your products.
The last thing you want to do is to discourage a whole market with something unsuitable, off-putting, or even worse – offensive. What’s right for one culture, might not be for another.
5 multilingual user testing tips
How to carry out research with flying colours.
Write concise questions
Look out for the UX language you use when writing questions. For example, some participants who aren’t proficient in English might be unfamiliar with advanced terminology and certain phrases.
Instead, keep your UX language simple, concise, and straight to the point for complete clarity and understanding of the meaning of the question. Translating simple questions keeps terms and phrases consistent between languages and ensures there are no variations in how certain questions are interpreted.
Make use of briefing questions
If you’re carrying out remote tests with tasks (ie. tree tests, card sorting…) then we highly recommend writing briefing and debriefing questions that come before and after the main task itself. That way you’ve got the opportunity to 1) 100% ensure they understand the task and 2) screen the participant to gather as much information from them as possible, including their language proficiency, nationality, etc.
You can add briefing and debriefing questions to all types of tests available on our UserQ platform. Check out our full how-to guides to find out how.
Research before creating the test
Yep, that’s right. Research should come before the research.
When testing with a certain culture, don’t go in blind. Educate yourself on the culture and be mindful of the people and their social norms and behaviours. It might be useful to ask for advice from those who’ve been operating in the region for a long time and are already aware of the cultural nuances. They can provide useful insights into how to behave and be respectful. For example, you don’t want to ask questions or set tasks that go against specific religious beliefs.
Master your body language reading
Become a master of behaviour observation – especially if you’re carrying out moderated research (ie. a focus group or one-to-one interview). On top of gaining qualitative and quantitative data by listening to what they’re saying, picking up on visual cues can streamline the conversation and help fight any language barriers.
Be patient and open-minded
Try to complete the test in the participant’s native language wherever possible. It’s your job as a moderator and researcher to make your participants feel as comfortable as can be. This can take time to build a rapport so patience is key – and reassure them that they can take their time when answering questions.
Our team here at UserQ are based in the cosmopolitan MENA region – home to people from all over the world. In fact, the total expat population of the UAE reached a staggering 88.52% in 2023.
We know just how important multilingual UX testing is for such a melting point of cultures, nationalities, and behaviours – which is exactly why we’ve built the UserQ so you can test in English or Arabic here in the MENA.