Going global involves understanding target markets, preparing for multi-language translations, and understanding different locales. To successfully manage the expense of human translation services, it is important to think about the content and then design multi-language content in better ways to be effective in a global market.
If website localization is not part of the business plan for global expansion, it should be. Important considerations include ensuring that the content management system can handle multiple languages that work properly with critical business applications.
Working with a quality translation service such as InWhatLanguage as an integral part of the plans for global expansion reduces the difficulties and saves money.
InWhatLanguage reports that English is still the language used the most on the Internet. However, English is no longer the only language found on the worldwide web.
Around 33% of the Internet users speak English. This represents about 565 million people. This group of people is closely followed by 509 million Chinese speakers that represent about 30% of Internet users.
Spanish is another language found on the Internet. About 164 million people (10% of Internet users) speak Spanish. Then comes Japanese speakers of around 100 million (6% of Internet users) and Portuguese speakers of 83 million (5% of Internet users). There are 75 million German users (4% of Internet users).
Arabic speakers of 65 million represent about 4% of Internet users. Russian and French speakers represent about 60 million each (3% of Internet users for each language). Korean speakers are about 40 million (2% of Internet users).
When all of the non-English speakers are added together, this represents over one billion people that speak different languages who use the Internet. This ever-expanding global market is the reason why many companies are being sure their Internet presence is now offered in many languages.
Benefits from Using Translations
Translations allow businesses to reach more customers. These potential customers can be in foreign countries or non-native speakers in the domestic country. Customers are more likely to buy something if they can learn about it in a language that they are most familiar with.
Many companies sell into foreign markets through their online presence, through distributors and/or by using marketing representatives. They gain more exposure for their brands by having professional marketing materials produced in multiple languages
Customer support is enhanced by being made available in multiple languages. Customers appreciate being able to read things like instructional manuals, online help, and FAQs in their native language. Providing customer support in multiple languages can increase customer loyalty. Many potential customers become loyal to a company or brand because they find materials offered by them in a language that they appreciate.
In companies that have a diverse workforce, having information in multiple languages increase employee motivation. Opportunities to increase employee motivation come from translating handbooks, training manuals, and safety materials into multiple languages. By using translations of important documents, miscommunications can be avoided. This increases productivity improves safety and reduces administrative costs.
Save Money on Translation Services
Translation management is the area of expertise that improves translation processes. Modern translation management is highly effective in lowering the translation expenses, especially for firms that need continual translation services.
There are many proven techniques for translation management processes that reduce the overall costs of translation services. These include 1) content analysis; 2) document preparation; 3) working with multiple digital formats; 4) using a glossary of terminology; 5) creating a database of translation memory; 6) using UNITY for translation management; 7) proofreading; 8) outsourcing, 9) time management, and; 10) proper budgeting.
Here is an exploration of each of these issues:
- Content Analysis
Content analysis is necessary to make sure anything translated serves the needs of a company’s clients and/or customers. It is important to identify the critical things that are most useful for translation and avoid wasting translation services on items of lesser importance.
One good way to organize content, in terms of its importance, is to create fictional personas that help describe the different kinds of users of the content. By creating translations that answer the questions and concerns of these fictional personas, a company is better able to manage the translation process.
A fictional persona describes a typical customer. To do this a company need to know and understand their customers well. The exercise of knowing customers is beneficial for any organization. After all, if a company does not know what its customers want, how can it possibly serve them?
After developing a profile of the persona(s) of customers, the next step is to identify essential content. The goal is to deliver content that satisfies user needs, rather than to translate everything. For example, it is probably a good idea to translate the features and benefits of product/service offerings. However, it may not be necessary to translate the full product specifications.
By conducting content analysis first before engaging a translation service, this will reduce the translation needs and focus the efforts on what is considered to be most beneficial. After some of the translation work is done, it is important to conduct usability testing to make sure the assumptions made about the usefulness of the content are correct.
Some good general rules to follow for content creation include:
- Use language that is concise and easy to understand.
- Use the same terms for similar concepts found in all content.
- Avoid idioms, slang, cultural references, and country-specific concepts.
It is also important to start with one or two important languages for translation before expanding to other languages.
- Document Preparation
To make it easier to translate documents, use a text file or MS word format (instead of pdf or html files) and remove any excessive empty spaces. It saves time to make sure a document is ready for the translation team. If the formatting of the document is important, make sure to provide a document for translation that is properly formatted.
Editing documents down to the most relevant content is helpful in reducing overall translation expense. Prior to translation, some documents can be summarized. Less important information and/or documents can be removed. Any documents that have tables of numbers do not need a full translation. Instead, just list the keywords needed for the table descriptions so that only those words are translated.
- Digital Formats
The cost of translation is only part of the cost of presenting the content in a format that is accessible by users. Companies that used desktop publishing methods may experience significant additional costs to get the translated content ready for publishing.
Using a desktop publishing platform requires the formatting of every page. This added complexity is not necessary when using a publishing format based on XML protocols. If possible, switching to an XML-based content publishing model provides a good opportunity for saving money. With XML, the formatting of large amounts of content is managed by a single style sheet and not by each individual page.
Using XML reduces the amount of time and effort. With XML, the content can be created once and then can be used in multiple ways. One translation of the content can be displayed in many ways that are formatted by a style sheet. After the initial translation, only the future changes made to the content need translation. This saves considerable amounts of money for the translation services.
Some good general rules to follow in order to avoid problems with digital formatting include:
- Avoid hard programming code by separating the code from the content.
- Allow flexible space for translated text, on buttons and in dialog boxes, since it may use more or less space than the original language.
- Do not include text within the graphics. Use a text overlay for graphics instead.
- Glossary of Terminology
Every company has certain terminology that is used consistently to describe its products and/or services. To save money on translation costs it is important to create a glossary of common terminology. This also helps to make sure that the terms are translated correctly and consistently.
Using a text-analysis software tool can help identify the terms that are commonly used. The way text analysis works is the software counts the incidences of certain words and phrases in a batch of common content used by a company. These common words and phrases are then selected for specific translation. The translations are approved by the company and then they are added to the glossary of terminology to be used over and over again.
The investment in the creation of a glossary of terminology pays off when doing future translations. The glossary serves as a good foundation to make sure the overall costs of translations are less and that the translations of terminology remain consistent in all the company’s documents. The glossary includes all the commonly used words and more importantly the industry-specify phrases that are used over and over again.
Some good general rules to follow for a terminology glossary include:
- Make sure that the key terms and key phrases are translated consistently.
- Include “do not translate” terms, such as product names, brand names, measurements, and industry standards.
- Translation Memory
Creating a database of translation memory is an extension of the usefulness of having a glossary of terminology. Translation memory works by saving previous translations and then comparing new work that needs translation with previously translated work.
When the new work contains identical words and phrases, the translation memory software notices this and finds the previous translations. The previously translated words or phrases are then used for the new work. Repeated translated content has a lower production cost than newly translated content.
Over time, developing a significant translation memory database continues to reduce the translation costs of the new work. This is why it pays to find a good translation service and continue to use them for additional translation projects in the future.
Here is an example of the calculations showing the benefits of using translation memory:
- Files to be Translated: 1,000
- Words to be Translated: 1,000,000
- Word Reduction from Repetition: 200,000 (about 20%)
- Reduction from Translation Memory: 100,000 (about 10%)
- Words Needing New Translation: 700,000
In this case, the cost savings for the project would be about 30%. This is an example only. Each project is slightly different. However, it is clear that there may be significant savings from using a translation service that works with a translation glossary, reduces repetitive terms, and uses a translation memory database.
Besides lower costs, there is increased consistency of translations and faster project turnaround times. These considerations are part of the best practices for translation services.
A good translation service like InWhatLanguage uses proofreading editors to double check the work of translators. The best proofreaders are those who understand the language they are editing as their native language. They understand proper word usage and can correct the phrases that might be a technically-correct translation; however, do not make sense to a native speaker.
Proofreading editors come from all over the world. The rates charged may reflect where they are physically located. Some savings may be possible by using proofreaders that are physically located in places in the world with lower wages. This may be better than using locally-based proofreaders who charge higher rates.
7. The Benefits of Outsourcing Translation Services
It may be tempting for some organization to hire translation staff to work for the company directly. However, for most businesses, this is not a cost-effective solution. Professional translators spend many years perfecting their skills. When a person is able to be conversational in more than one language, this is not enough to become a translator. Having a basic understanding of a language is not the same as understanding the complex syntax, grammar, and terminology that may be very industry specific.
It is rare that a company has enough translation work to keep a worker employed full-time and permanently. The staff that does translation work may be taken away from other activities that are necessary for the business to operate. If the translation work is intermittent, the person may become distracted with other work that is considered more important for the company. In this case, the translation work is neglected. The reverse may also be true. If the person is focused on translation work, he or she may neglect other job responsibilities that they may have.
Besides needing the staff with the time and expertise to perform in-house translations, there are many software tools that professional translators utilize. Translation management systems make doing translation work easier. A single company may not have the ability to support a full translation management system (TMS).
InWhatLanguage offers the UNITY system that a company can rent on a monthly basis thereby reducing the investment required for a powerful TMS tool. For these reasons and many others, most companies prefer to outsource their translation needs.
8. Time Management
Certainly, there might be a time-critical element for a translation job. An example of this is when there is a set conference date or another event when the translation will be needed. However, needing a translation to be done quickly is more costly and less likely to produce the best result.
It is far better to manage a translation project by allowing sufficient time for the translation services. This gives the translators the chance to do a really good job and avoids the additional charges for doing a translation job as fast as possible.
Developing an ongoing relationship with a quality translation service, such as InWhatLanguage creates the time management solutions for these needs. It is best to work with your account manager to discuss future needs, well in advance, and to plan for them accordingly.
9. Budget Considerations
Having an adequate budget for translation services is an important investment in the future of any business. Making a long-term commitment to a company like InWhatLanguage lowers the overall cost of translations services. Dedication of a planned budget makes it easier to manage translation projects that deliver consistent results.
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Companies should focus their efforts on the things that improve the translation process. They should make strategic plans to present their content in multiple languages in order to capture a larger share of the global marketplace. Establishing a terminology glossary and using a translation memory database along with translation management software are the ways to improve the translation processes.
Working with an experienced translation service like InWhatLanguage means that a company can take advantage of the best software tools in order to enhance the translation results and save money. By following these best practices, a company will end up with high-quality translations that are created in the most cost-effective ways.