Context is King: Old-School Translation vs Smartling

Traditional, old-school translation of digital content is often time-consuming and expensive. One reason for this is that it handles text out of context—and trying to translate content from a website or web app out of context is inefficient and costly.

Smartling has changed all that, but before learning how, let’s quickly look at the old way of doing things.

Old-School Translation

It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say that translators who work for long-established Language Service Providers (LSPs) receive text by carrier pigeon and work on it with quill pens, but the effect is pretty much the same.

Here’s the standard old-school workflow:

1. Source content is downloaded from the owner’s web server.

2. It’s delivered to the translators, typically as strings in a translation tool format.

3. The translators work on the text in isolation from what will ultimately surround it.

4. The translators’ output is proofread and checked.

5. Since the text was translated out of context, steps 2-5 are repeated in a loop until the translation is contexually correct.

6. When finally complete, the text is re-imported. The website is then pushed to a staging server, and the content is checked again in place.

7. Assuming that it is ok, the website is finally pushed live.

It’s not hard to see how this could end up being pricey—so pricey, in fact, that only large and wealthy organizations could contemplate it. It’s also—since it can take days if not weeks—ill-suited to the immediacy demanded by the Web.

The Smartling Translation Experience

So, you may be asking, how does Smartling change this?

  • After a simple set-up process, Smartling ingests content from your original website, right down to the meta tags, Javascript, etc., and presents it to you through a browser-based dashboard.
  • Translation (and subsequent updates) are performed in context in the exact place on your site or app where the copy belongs.
  • Because Smartling translates the content in context, it is far more likely to be correct the first time—eliminating the need for multiple revisions.
    • No time is consumed sending files back and forth, because all the text is in one place (in the cloud) and available to everyone who needs to see it (translators, editors, approvers, etc.).
    • There is no initial downloading or final uploading of files, because the translation is carried out within the site.
  • Smartling automates the entire workflow, which the client can customize and control (and translators can access) using a straightforward dashboard.

What does it mean?

The bottom line is that for the first time ever, Smartling makes it possible to reach and engage people in the language they prefer at an affordable price. It starts by presenting its users with the framework of a new site at a tiny fraction of the old-school cost of developing one from scratch. It closes the deal by streamlining the process of translation and making in-context translation its default mode—which ensures fast, accurate and cost-effective translation. You can check it at no risk at all by signing up for free.