Choosing Non-Professional vs. Professional Website Translation

Budget constraints are a part of business and it’s understandable that you would want to handle website translation in an affordable way. But when you choose the least expensive option, the truth is you may not get the quality you would with a professional service.

Here are some of the types of non-professional services and their drawbacks when compared to professional website translation.

Volunteer Translation

Also, known as crowdsourced translation, it may work for you if you’re a not-for-profit organization or a company with an engaged community of users. However, don’t assume that this is a cheap, or even free, translation option. It’s not. Also, though volunteers are inherently motivated to help you, they may not all have the expertise you require—even if they speak the target languages. And because volunteers often have other responsibilities, they may not be able to meet your deadline for delivery.

You can reduce these risks by enrolling the services of a language service provider (LSP) to review the translated content, though this will add to your translation budget.

Using Employees

Some companies ask their bilingual employees to translate their website and other content. The advantage of this approach is that your employees already have inside knowledge of your products. Still, they’re not professional translators and may not be able to provide a high quality, error-free translation. Businesses need accurate translated content to protect their reputation. Your employees may also have other responsibilities and have to fit the translation tasks around their core duties. This can extend their translation time, delaying the project and costing the company through lost productivity.

A better approach is to get professional help for translation and use bilingual employees to review it.

Computer-Generated Website Translation

What about computer-generated translation? This can be a good choice for non-specialized, non-customer-facing content (because all customers will see your site, this may not be the best in web translation). Some computer-generated translation tools are free and low in cost, but that doesn’t mean they’re good.

Unfortunately if no human beings are involved in the translation process, there is no way to verify the quality of the translation. A good middle ground is to use a customized, paid machine translation engine, and then getting this edited by professional translators.

Agency Translation

What happens when you go through a translation agency? You work with professionals who can deliver very good quality. However, you still have to be careful about which package you choose. Some agencies don’t provide editing services. If they farm your web translation needs out to different translators, editing can unify it when it comes back. So the lack of this service will lead to quality issues.

Again, if you want to ensure quality, you will have to expand your budget to allow for proofreaders and project managers. Albeit a slightly larger investment, this will reduce the risk of missing project deadlines or damaging your company’s reputation through poorly translated content.

You also have the option of working directly with experienced translators, whose knowledge of your niche makes things even better if you’re operating in a tightly regulated industry. But keep in mind that this will increase project management tasks at your end.

Pay attention to the tools your translators use. The technologically savvy ones who are comfortable with translation software interfaces and other tools of the trade can provide a more consistent product. It’s an excellent option for getting a professional website translation while keeping your resources under control.

Image source: BigStock

There are many types of translation workflows, some riskier than others. Find out which is best for your business.


About Sharon Hurley Hall

Self-confessed word nerd Sharon Hurley Hall has the perfect job - as a professional writer and blogger. In the last couple of decades she has worked as a journalist, a college professor (teaching journalism, of course), an editor and a ghostwriter. She finds language fascinating and, in addition to English, speaks French, Spanish and a smattering of German.