4 Easy Tricks for Saving Time on Your Next Localization Project

By Doug Bonderud


Localization projects are rarely simple. Finding a translation and localization service that understands your needs, brand voice, and tone—and can generate regionally appropriate content in a range of languages—can be challenging at best. And in many cases, translation cycles are far longer than marketers hope for or vendors promise, leaving companies with no choice but to press on despite the return on investment (ROI) not living up to expectations.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are four tricks for saving time with your next localization project.

1. Opt for Software

One of the biggest problems in localization arises from doing everything manually. Many marketers believe this is their only choice, mostly because they’re not aware how translation software can offer several unique features to help speed up things.

First is translation memory. This is a database of previously translated words and phrases. Whenever translators start on a new translation project, it automatically runs through the content and suggests re-use of content where applicable. It can significantly reduce the time it takes to complete new projects, especially if they include “fuzzy match” strings that are close but not identical to those in memory. Meanwhile, the glossary and style guide provide unique insights for translators working on your content. The style guide gives them information about the tone, syntax, and voice of your brand, whereas the glossary indicates the correct meaning of terms as used in your company or industry.

2. Coordinate with Your Language Service Provider

Your next trick to keeping localization projects on track? Meet with your translation company to discover what they really know about the business. What’s their level of expertise? How long have they been in business? Who do they hire to do their translating—contract or full-time staff? If a face-to-face meeting isn’t practical, consider a video chat or phone call; any kind of communication will help provide insight into overall competence and confidence. The best translation services are up front about their timelines, cost, and how their translators work. By extension, they should always understand the fundamental rule of translation content: all media, from untranslated files to mid-process versions and final documents, belongs to you.

3. Familiarity Breeds Good Content

To speed up the process even more, use the same translators as much as possible. Because they’re already familiar with your brand voice and tone, they can easily get on board with new projects. In addition, they’re better prepared to catch small errors or translation missteps, which might not sink a project but could make a native speaker feel like something is “off” about a website, app, or e-commerce solution. It may not be possible to use the same team for multiple languages, but it’s worth asking if they know talented translators with the expertise you’re looking for, given there’s a fairly tight-knit community of great professionals at work.

4. Make Time for Translation

The best way to make sure localization projects don’t take more time than they should is to provide your vendor with plenty of advance notice. Although translator speed or software efficacy can, in most cases, hold up the production of great content, marketers need to take responsibility for lead time when it comes to great translation. By giving vendors early copies of files in progress, translators can get to work customizing a style guide, glossary, and translation memory that puts you ahead of the game when crunch time comes.

Every brand wants to spend more time fine-tuning its localization project and less time buttoning up basic tasks. Use the right software, meet your content maker, rely on familiar faces, and always give advance notice.