Once you’ve completed foundational steps of preparing for localization — choosing the right translation resources, preparing your translation tools, and determining your site structure — you are ready to move forward with the actual content translation phase of implementation.
Nearly every company will need to engage external resources for content translation. Even large companies with multilingual workforces don’t have staff with the depth of bi- or trilingual language skills to effectively translate content. Several options do exist, though, and the route you choose will depend on your business requirements including target languages, quality requirements, special industry knowledge, and, of course, translation budget.
Choosing the right translation resource and methodology can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. Here are the five main ways you translate your content, and some tips for managing each.
For those new to working with agencies, make sure you do your homework before selecting a language partner. It’s important to keep in mind that the services and processes can vary significantly between types of service providers, so you’ll need to put in your due diligence to find the one that’s the best fit for your localization needs. There is one element that all translation agencies share — each will support a unique set of language pairs, so comparing your target languages to the supported languages of any firm you might choose is a great starting point.
All in all, if you are looking for an economical option, go in knowing that translation agencies on the lower cost end of the spectrum may provide services by training non-professional native speakers for translation, focusing on client scale and rapid turnaround at a lesser price point.
Language Service Providers (LSPs)
While a more costly source of translations, LSPs will provide the highest quality translations. Unlike translation agencies, LSPs provide translation services that are delivered by trained translators who have received extensive language education and potentially also professional certification. This ensures that translators are fully fluent in the languages covered and that they understand the nuances of translating content and ideas with respect to applicable cultural variances. A benefit of using LSPs is that they usually also include testing, in-country review, and QA as part of their internal translation process, ensuring quality.
LSPs are a great option if you are looking to localize in an industry that has special needs (e.g., use of highly technical language medical terms, or legal terms), and there are agencies who can offer the specialized support that is vital for your translations to be effective. Of course, make sure to research these needs specifically before choosing your translation provider.
If you have a large enough international user base, a great way to engage your community is to encourage crowdsourced translations. This approach is cost effective and generally faster, as your users already understand the use of your product or application and the local market culture and requirements. However, one major concern with crowdsourcing is the quality of the translations.
If you decide to crowdsource translations, you may want to have a LSP review the translations. This is called a Hybrid Translation Workflow (see below). In our experience, the most successful community translation projects are ones that have full moderation programs in place. This means there is an appointed individual that is responsible for organizing, openly communicating with, and managing all community volunteers. In cases where companies are translating content into multiple languages, multiple moderators may be required to effectively guide the crowd to produce high-quality translations that support specific business goals. Some companies even opt to assign one moderator per language.
Something to keep in mind as you are building your translation budget is that while you’re not paying for translations when you use your community, there are other costs involved in running a high-quality translation crowdsourcing effort. Make sure to consider these resource requirements before you opt to move ahead with crowdsourcing your translations.
Most people are familiar with Google Translate and may have even experimented with its functionality. So you may be wondering, why not just use a great tool like this, particularly since it’s free? When you’re translating in-depth content like your website, using machine translation can put your brand at risk because:
- It can’t account for certain phrases because of lack of context
- It’s difficult for machine translation to accurately translate nuances and slang
- Specific errors are hard to predict and difficult to correct
- Content in the target language can feel choppy or pieced together In the best case, improper translations make your website look unprofessional. In the worst case, improper translations offend users in your target locale.
If your budget is very limited, however, or you have a very large amount of content, a viable option may be to use machine translation via a free or very low-cost API followed by post-editing by professional translators. This hybrid approach can work very effectively.
Hybrid Translation Workflows
There are multiple options for creating hybrid translation processes that work for your budget and business requirements. Feel free to design the process and workflow that is right for your audience and pocketbook. And if you’re thinking about a localization platform, make sure to validate that the platform you’re considering easily supports the translation process that meets your business needs.
Explore the Full #TranslationMustKnows Series
This post is part of the #translationmustknows series, built to equip everyone in your localization process – from developers to localization managers – with the knowledge and resources necessary for achieving translation and localization success.
Explore the full #translationmustknows series to catch up on other posts and learn everything you need to know for translation success:
- 6 Things to Keep In Mind When Selecting Content to Localize
- 2 Simple Ways to Calculate Your Translation Budget
- How to Easily Automate Your Localization Efforts
- 3 Steps to Successfully Maintain Your Global Websites
- 3 Ways to Build an International URL Structure
- 5 Resources for Translating & Localizing Your Content
Achieve Website Translation Success
Website localization is a complex task. That’s why we’ve put together a guide that breaks down each key step of your software localization process from start to finish. Download our step-by-step website translation guide for action items and best practices for website localization, and an overview of the results that effective localization can drive for your business. Whether you’re a digital marketer responsible for all the facets of your company’s website or a webmaster responsible for the infrastructure and processes behind the scenes, this guide will walk you through all the critical steps of localizing your content.