Translating and localizing content can come with a steep learning curve, especially for those trying to get it right on an accelerated timeline. Enter language service providers and translation management systems.
Language service providers (LSPs) are localization experts. They connect you with linguists and guide you through the process. And translation management systems (TMSs) help you scale those localization efforts. While every TMS is different, they typically try to automate tasks, streamline workflows, facilitate collaboration, and improve translation quality.
But with so many different options, deciding on the right one can be tricky. And if you're here because you're choosing between Smartling and Lingotek or are looking for an alternative, this page will help you understand which solution is best for your business.
What Is Smartling?
Smartling combines market-leading technology with expert language services to help businesses — including DoorDash, Shopify, InterContinental Hotels Group, British Airways, and WeWork — effortlessly expand into new markets and connect with customers worldwide.
Our cloud-based translation management system offers a host of customizable features designed to centralize control, facilitate collaboration, increase efficiency, and improve translation quality. And our expert language services connect businesses with seasoned translators who have extensive industry knowledge and can help provide native brand experiences for global audiences.
What Is Lingotek?
Lingotek is a cloud-based translation management system and language service provider that aims to optimize the traditional translation process. It offers features that facilitate translation, but its solution lacks some of the customizability and functionality that businesses value when dealing with multiple content types and languages.
Smartling vs. Lingotek vs. Legacy Tools
For all the technological advances we've seen over the past several years, the translation process, for many, has not kept up.
Many companies still copy and paste content into spreadsheets and send that — sans any context — over to an LSP for translation. That LSP then assigns the document out to a linguist for translation via email. The translator translates the strings as best they can, often relying on outdated or incomplete linguistic assets, before sending the translated document back. Throughout it all, there’s little, if any, communication between the key players, which doesn’t bode well for the quality of those translations.
A few select companies have sought to change that, including Lingotek and Smartling.
Both companies offer a cloud-based translation management system, where translation efforts are centralized: passing files back and forth via email is a thing of the past, and linguistic assets are stored in the cloud. Updating them is simple, and they’re easily accessible to all. Further, assignments and workflows can be automated, helping translations move efficiently from one step to the next.
Further still, both Lingotek and Smartling incorporate visual context, computer-assisted translation tools, and quality checks into the TMS, so all translation happens in the cloud. As a result, businesses can gain more visibility into the translation process and track progress easily.
There are, however, a number of differences between Smartling and Lingotek (and legacy providers) when it comes to delivering the flexibility and seamless experience many businesses need to truly take their translations to the next level. For example:
- With Lingotek: Workflows are customizable to a point. Lingotek uses fuzzy matching rules and deadline monitoring to determine if content can skip steps.
- With Smartling: Customers can configure dynamic workflows that automatically route content to different steps based on fuzzy matching score and inactivity, plus string tags, file URI, or website URL.
- With Lingotek: The In-Context Viewer is separate from the TMS Workbench and may require users to install separate browser extensions to work properly.
- With Smartling: Visual context is automatically captured and surfaced directly within the platform — no separate software, extensions, or permissions are required to translate with context.
The Highest-Rated TMS Award Goes to… Smartling
When choosing a translation management system, features and talk only go so far. You want a TMS that has a proven track record. With Smartling, that’s exactly what you get: G2 users have left 200+ reviews, scoring us a 4.5 out of 5 stars, and ranked our translation management system #1 in the space.
In particular, users love the easy-to-navigate and feature-rich UI, customizability and batching options, the visibility into the translation process, and our stellar customer service.
“The customer service is so excellent that I thought for a while that we were their biggest and most important customer before I learned they have much larger clients. The responses to our questions are practically immediate and very detailed, and nothing is left unanswered. If an answer doesn't exist yet, they will work hard to find what you need until you're happy.” - Rossi G, Digital Marketing Manager
The Typical Cost of a TMS: Lingotek vs. Smartling
Translation management systems are software solutions. They often operate on a subscription-based model — especially those that utilize cloud technology — and businesses typically pay an up-front licensing fee each year as well as monthly fees based on individual usage. Prices vary immensely and also can depend on the level of customization and support you need.
Even so, you still have to factor in the costs of actually translating your content. These are usually priced per word and per target language. Translators and LSPs also charge minimum word rates, so costs quickly add up.
And what does this not consider? The costs of any hiccups or delays to market you might experience due to suboptimal software or poor translation quality. Whether you focus on the costs of re-translating, or the opportunity cost associated with going to market later than you planned, these costs can make or break a budget.
Lingotek likely uses a combination of these two traditional fee structures.
Smartling, on the other hand, disrupts that model:
- There’s just a one-word minimum for translation
- Leveraging translation memory can cut down on translation volume and turnaround time
- You have the option of bundling software costs with language services, making both easier on your wallet
We realize that every business is unique, with different priorities and growth objectives. So we offer a few different ways to engage with the Smartling platform. If you’re in the beginning stages of localizing your content, we can offer a platform with just what you need and connect you to expert translators in any language you choose. And if you require a more robust solution that bundles our enterprise software with language services, we can provide you with advanced features and steep discounts to help you scale.
We also offer three ways to buy our services:
- Pay As You Go: New to translation? We'll help you get started quickly with usage based pricing
- Volume-Based Discounts: For larger localization projects, you can receive discounts as your usage grows
- Committed Use: Commit to a certain level of usage based on project scope and receive deeper discounts
What Differentiates Smartling from Lingotek?
Lingotek does offer useful tools and clearly recognizes the value of features that encourage automation and efficiency. But it falls short by offering a pared-down TMS that lacks the customizability Smartling offers.
With Smartling, you have at your fingertips best-in-class tools that work together seamlessly to streamline your translation workflows and supply linguists with everything they need right in the platform, thereby ensuring translation quality and accelerating your time to market.
Further, Smartling’s bundling of robust TMS and world-class translation services enables you to better balance speed, quality, and costs. Finally, stellar customer service throughout the process ensures businesses have everything they need to move the world with words.
There are also plenty of other benefits associated with combining a best-in-class translation management system and expert language services:
- Scale up more easily as your business grows and your localization needs become more complex
- Diversify your translation needs by leveraging a wide range of integrations while keeping your brand assets and translations organized.
- Connect with localization professionals that can help you navigate the translation process
- Access an already vetted pool of human translators that have experience in 50 business verticals and over 150 languages
- Leverage previously translated material, AI-enabled machine translation, and professional translation — seamlessly
- Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools provide visual context and minimize the risk of human error
- Take advantage of centralized communication and automated workflows so everyone can easily stay on the same page
- Rest easy knowing that our enterprise-grade security infrastructure is compliant with industry standards and regulations and works hard to keep your data safe.
What To Consider When Choosing a Language Service Provider
Language service providers (LSPs) are not all the same. They vary widely in what languages and services they offer and in the quality of their project managers and linguists.
Choosing the wrong language services provider can be costly and delay or even stall your expansion into new markets. The right language services provider, on the other hand, will work with you to maximize your ROI and ensure your content resonates with your target audiences. Consider the following when choosing which language service provider to partner with:
- Does the LSP offer services in the markets and languages you’re focused on now — and the ones you plan to focus on in the future?
- Does the LSP have experience working with your specific industry and with the types of content you’d like translated?
- Does the LSP vet their translators and how they evaluate work on an ongoing basis?
- Does the LSP’s approach to pricing strike a balance between cost and quality?
- Does the LSP have a “can do” attitude? — that is, whether they’ll offer realistic, flexible solutions that work with your timelines and budget
Localization is ultimately an investment in your business, and both language services providers and translation management systems can help you grow your business. To maximize your growth potential, however, it’s essential that you choose the right partner — both from a technology standpoint and from a linguistic one.