Dimitris Glezos

5 Common Reasons for Translation Delays in Localization Projects

You’ve decided to localize your software. Maybe it’s your website; or your mobile app; or both. You’ve devoted time to researching potential revenue-generating locales and have carefully decided which languages you’re going to translate to. Now you’re left wondering how long the translation process will take. While there’s no single answer to this question as translation speed is typically dependent on the amount of content being translated and the individual or agency that is translating the content, knowing the most common reasons translations are delayed can ensure that you ship your next localization project quickly – without sacrificing translation quality.

1. Not Having an Internationalized Code Base

If you’re new to localization, you may not be familiar with the term internationalization which, simply put, is making sure your code can be easily adapted for other languages. Internationalization usually takes place during the development phase, and can still be done if you’re launching software in a single language.

So if internationalization takes place during the design phase, how does it delay translations? What tends to happen is that organizations don’t know that their code isn’t internationalized. When they go to translate their content, the issue surfaces and developers are forced to go back and recreate the entire project from scratch, causing delays before translations have even started. Fortunately, for some projects, this can be avoided by using localization solutions like Transifex Live which allows you to auto-detect and collect strings for translation without changing your code. After translations have been completed, Transifex Live uses a small snippet of JavaScript to present the translated content to global users, meaning a lot less work and time lost.

2. Complicated Source Content

A Lionbridge study reports that “approximately 15 percent of all translation project costs arise from rework, and the primary cause of rework is inconsistent terminology.” You can minimize the potential for mistranslation and rework by keeping your original source content simple, consistent, and clear. This reduces possible ambiguity and ensures that your translators will be able to accurately translate your original marketing or product messages for new audiences at a reasonable pace. At the end of the day, the more complicated your source content, the longer translations will take.

Another way to ensure quality and consistency from your source language to your target language(s) is to create a translation glossary that your translators, translation agency, or Language Service Provider (LSP) can access as they work through your content. Glossaries are made up of a list of commonly used or company specific terms and their corresponding translations. They are especially helpful for organizations with highly technical terms that may not have a direct translation in other languages. To learn more about translation glossaries, check out our post on how businesses can make the most of their translation glossary.

3. Low Quality Translators

Professional freelance translators, translation agencies, and Language Service Providers (LSPs) charge anywhere from $.05 to $.20 per word (or more) which can make it hard for organizations to figure out the appropriate price to pay for translations. What should be mentioned is that, like many things, you get what you pay for. Translations on the lower end of the cost spectrum may benefit your bottom line, but may also be performed by individuals who do not have the skills or experience to adequately translate content from your source to your target language(s). Translations on the higher end of the cost spectrum will likely be done by professional translators who not only have the skills needed to do a great job, but the experience to understand the importance of finishing projects within stated timelines. If you’re working with a LSP, the cost will also include review by a trained translation reviewer, further ensuring a high quality result.

Taking the time to find the right freelancers or partner agencies isn’t always easy, but spending time to vet your translation team against your organization’s localization goals, timeline, and budgetary requirements can ensure that you don’t waste time and money on poor translations.

4. Manual Translation Processes

The traditional localization workflow relies heavily on manual processes. The person responsible for localization must identify and pull strings for translation, which typically includes copying the source content and pasting it into a blank document or spreadsheet. Once all the content has been copied over, the document or spreadsheet is sent for translation, to a single translator or a group of translators. Once translators have finished their work, they send back the document or spreadsheet and translations are manually copied out and pasted back into the product.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for this type of workflow to fall apart. For instance, if a string is missed in the initial collection phase, it won’t be sent to translators, leaving a single string untranslated in the final localized product. Similarly, a translator may copy and paste a translation into the wrong cell in their spreadsheet, causing duplicate translations to appear in the product or translations to appear in the wrong place. Going back to find these errors and re-sending translations can be extremely tedious and time consuming.

Today, the translation and technology industries have collided, producing localization automation platforms that replace the mess of documents and spreadsheets mentioned above with a single hub for collecting, managing, and translating your digital content. With a localization automation platform like Transifex, you can even communicate with translators, providing extra context, feedback, and comments to ensure translations are done on time. When translations are completed, the platform will notify you and can push your localized strings back into your product, facilitating localization that moves at the same speed as development.

5. Lack of Proper Translation Tools

Having the right arsenal of translation tools is key for increasing translation speed. And many times, there are secondary benefits, like increased consistency and brand messaging throughout your product. Along with glossaries which we mentioned above, here are a few other translation tools that can help you complete translations faster:

  • Style Guide – Your style guide is provided to translators and covers things like punctuation, branding elements, formatting, formal versus informal tone, and how to deal with localized currencies, addresses, and phone numbers. As translators read and learn your style guide, they’ll become more familiar with your tone and messaging, allowing them to quickly provide high quality translations.
  • Translation Memory – Your translation memory is a database that stores words and phrases that have already been translated. As translators work through your content, your TM database provides suggestions based on previously translated and reviewed strings, reducing costs because translators don’t have to keep translating the same content over and over, but also saving review time, getting translation jobs done faster.


    Check out our Translation Memory infographic and learn how to translate faster, improve translation consistency, and lower overall costs.

  • In-Context Translation – Translating in-context makes it possible for your translators to see exactly how finished translations will look on your website, while also giving them context to ensure that translations are appropriate for the given space – much better than having to simultaneously reference your product and spreadsheets to translate accurately.

Of course, things come up that may delay translations and the overall localization of your product, but with the right support services and resources, you can deliver new products and updates to users around the world efficiently and effectively. And if you’re interested in learning more about localization platforms, visit our website at www.transifex.com. We also have a multilingual translation plugin for users looking to translate their WordPress websites so don’t forget to check that out too!

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