One of the most important decisions that you will make during your website translation or app localization project is who will provide your translation services. Translators can make an enormous difference on how your brand is perceived in the target languages. There are many translation companies to choose from, but not all deliver the same quality and value. Here are some best practices to follow as you begin the process of evaluating translation companies.
Insist on Professional Translation Experience
Being bilingual is not the same thing as being a professional translator. In addition to direct text-to-text translation, professional translators are able to consider elements such as tone, content layout, commonly used local phrases, and context. The best results are achieved when a native speaker of the target language is selected. This is the ideal situation as they are able to produce a result that will be indistinguishable from locally produced content.
Determine if You Need Subject Matter Expertise
Depending on the subject matter of your content, you may need to look at translation companies with subject matter expertise. This can be necessary if your content is highly technical or specialized as in the medical and legal industries.
Get References from Translation Companies
If you don’t speak the target language it can be difficult to evaluate the quality of translation work. Reputable translation companies should be happy to provide you with reference clients who have completed successful projects with your source and target languages. Be sure to ask the reference about both the quality and the timeliness of the project.
Shop Value, Not Price
You certainly want to compare the costs of each of the translation companies you consider, but keep in mind what you are looking for is value, not necessarily the lowest price. In fact, if you’re quoted a very low price with a very quick turnaround, beware. Translation takes time and professional translators earn good wages, so if you are offered bargain basement pricing, chances are the service is using machine translation or human-assisted machine translation, neither of which produce sufficient quality for customer-facing content.
Bring Your Own Translation Management System
The translation and localization services company you select may have some kind of translation management system in place, but there are several reasons why you should supply that translation software that will be used for your project.
- Translation memory: Translation memory greatly reduces the number of words to be translated by remembering previously translated content and matching it against content not yet translated. This saves time and reduces the cost of translation projects. Even though it’s common for service providers to use translation memory, most translation agencies do not actually share these assets with their clients. Supplying the translation memory technology yourself ensures that you maintain control and ownership of this valuable intellectual property.
- Resource flexibility: You want to have the flexibility to change your translation resources if you are dissatisfied with the results or pace of the project. This can be extremely difficult to do if the project is being managed with technology provided by and controlled by the translation company. Supplying the translation management gives you the flexibility to add or replace translation resources if needed. It also gives you the ability to involve bilingual employees in the review process if desired.
- Content delivery: Translating your content is only one part of bringing your content to a new market. You must also consider how your translated content will be delivered to your customers. Selecting a software localization and translation platform like Smartling will simplify the task of delivering your content to a worldwide audience.
Selecting the right translation resource for your project is critical, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Following these best practices should make evaluating translation companies a straightforward process. Smartling is happy to connect you with our network of trusted translation partners. Just reach out and we’ll recommend a good match for your specific needs.