Best Practices

5 Ways to Improve Translation Quality

Sometimes, you may find that your translations are close to acceptable quality but not quite there. Maybe you’re getting complaints or you’re wondering why you’re not getting the response you were expecting in a certain market.
Gabriel Fairman
2 min
Table of Contents

Sometimes, you may find that your translations are close to acceptable quality but not quite there. Maybe you’re getting complaints or you’re wondering why you’re not getting the response you were expecting in a certain market. In any case, it’s time to talk to your vendor if you’ve determined you need to improve translation quality. If you’re working with the right vendor in the first place, it’s likely that you’ll be able to determine what more you both can do to bolster your localization progress.

Proactive Ways to Improve Translation Quality

There are numerous ways you, as the client, can help set and maintain high translation standards, working in partnership with your translation vendor.

1. Define in advance what quality means to you.

High-quality translation means something specific to your company, but it won’t be immediately apparent until you take the time to determine what that looks like. Maybe you need high technical accuracy, rather than a light and fluid style. Maybe the important consideration is that your product descriptions should appeal to customers in the context of their culture, and a word-for-word translation is far from the best way to do that.Whatever the details boil down to, deciding on what a good translation looks like is the first step toward expecting that level of quality from your vendor. The ability to discuss data and concrete performance indicators will also empower you to provide actionable feedback when issues arise and to set specific goals to resolve them.

2. Evaluate your translation assets.

If your vendor hasn’t given you a quality assessment of your translation memories (TMs), term bases (TBs), and style guides, ask for it now. Approach the question with the expectation that your team will have to participate in the assessment process. Maybe you need to create a style guide or a glossary to support the assets the vendor is using when you introduce new features in your product or make other changes. This is a process that will cost extra money as it will take time on the vendor’s part too. But even if your quality is “good enough” now, this step will go a long way toward improving your translation quality and your bottom line.

3. Consider an in-context review.

An in-context review looks at translations in their real settings to see how they work in captions, headings, lists, graphics, and everywhere else they appear. It takes into account the very subtle differences between languages and verifies that the word works the same in all contexts in the target language as it did in the source—or where certain translated terms need to be defined in advance. This fine-tuning can be slow and expensive because it is highly labor-intensive, but the advanced preparation goes a long way toward ensuring the efficiency and quality of your translation projects—and saving money you might otherwise have to spend on retroactive fixes.

4. Prioritize translator training.

Your translators will work with greater assurance and accuracy if they are well acquainted with your product—not just from screenshots but from actual use. If you let linguists loose on your app to evaluate the UI, there will be an added benefit. Not only will they be better prepared to work on it, knowing it inside and out, but they will also likely find linguistic and functional errors that may break the app in translation.Another way to support your translators is to set up a call for them with native-speaking reviewers to talk about details of translating in their own language. Besides working out thorny language issues, this real-time communication creates a mutual feeling of partnership and cooperation.

5. Develop a consistent process for feedback and asset updates.

One thing a centralized localization platform offers is robust workflow support. Automation, accessible resources, and easy communication channels allow your whole localization team to develop the workflow that works best all around. All stakeholders need to buy into a feedback process and take responsibility for their part. What may start as a lot of back-and-forth between translators and editors or reviewers will lend itself to important lessons learned when you can effectively leverage these lessons in your assets and your workflow.Fortunately, this same centralized platform can also manage assignments for keeping linguistic assets up to date, including translation memories, term bases, glossaries, and style guides. These moderate efforts along the way pay major dividends when updates effectively prevent expensive mistakes in the long run.

People and Technology Together Make Good Translations

The importance of clear, prompt communication is evident. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is the best way to improve translation quality. Whether a translator has a question for a reviewer on the fly or a manager wants to check on the status of a project, productive communication is best achieved on a comprehensive localization management platform where everyone and everything can be found at a glance. When your vendor is committed to transparency, quality issues are easily discoverable and solvable on your platform.Bureau Worksprovides translation and localization services tailored to fit your business. Our state-of-the-art automated centralized translation platform is designed for maximum transparency and efficiency, creating the conditions for truly great translation.Contact our teamtoday to find out how we can work together.

Gabriel Fairman
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