What Happened to Quality in Localization and Translation?

With the continuing assault on pricing in the translation – localization industry, we are taking a few minutes this week to ask some pertinent questions. What happened to quality in localization and translation? And how can one get a quality result without exceeding the budget?

This universal challenge has been the theme of our book Enabling Globalization. Part 4 of the book begins with two ready-reference compilations of tips for getting the best results and minimizing expenses. Here they are:

Reducing Localization and Translation Costs focuses on the initial effort – the first time a product is localized. This stage is critical because it will have reverberations through everything that lies ahead. You’ll find a brief summation of a few tips from other blog posts, plus a list of new suggestions.

Ten Tips to Reduce Localization and Translation Update Costs addresses a separate topic. It differs from the initial effort because you now have a new, very important question: How can I make the most of what I already have? We give you here the essential guidelines to help you minimize the expense of your next product update.

None of these money-saving measures can come at the cost of quality. And quality cannot be achieved or maintained without a solid quality assurance (QA) process in place. When you’re preparing your product for international release, QA isn’t something you leave to your vendor as you read the next two topics.

Localization and Translation QA: How Important? will help you gain an understanding of the steps involved in this critical process. Most importantly, you will discover the key role you can (and should) play in it to ensure that you’re getting the best result for your investment.

Ten Tips for Achieving Quality in Localization and Translation concentrates more intently upon what you can be doing in-house to obtain excellence along with value. We visit a few of the fundamental principles, such as strategies and processes, to help you make sure you’re on the right track. But the focus here is on the QA process: how it works, and how you can make it work for you.

When you partner with a localization and translation vendor, you have decided to work with professionals who understand all the nuances of localization and translation. You should expect professional results that your end-user will be thrilled to use. Quality comes at a price justifiable by its dividends–fewer support calls, wider product use, and satisfied clients. The cost of poor quality far exceeds its savings. Never accept anything less than a completely satisfied end-user.

10 Tips on Achieving Quality in Localization and Translation

This white paper presents applicable ten tips that will help you navigate through the requirements of your translation localization projects and deliver a quality product that your international end-users will thank you for.

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  1. I’ve written this on other blogs and I’m writing it here again in the hope that it reaches more people:
    1- the ultimate measurement stick for localization quality is user perception of the translation. As a translator, software engineer and user of countless software programs, I have never seen anywhere the possibility to give feedback on the translation/localization into France French of software. Ubisoft, HP, and especially Microsoft, make me laugh and cry about bad localization.
    2- the best way to reduce localization costs and improve quality at the same time is to integrate localization as a first-class concern as early as possible in the product development cycle. Programmers need to be aware of and educated to what will happen further down the line. Otherwise, bad things are bound to happen and the highest level of quality is forever out of reach no matter how good the localizers are and no matter how extensible the budget is. For instance, strings will be translated but date formats won’t be because the devs haven’t planned for that. Or currency symbols will be stuck in a prefix position. Or strings that are used just fine in multiple places when in English just feel awkward in another language because the string hasn’t been properly duplicated. In all cases, the end-result is a half-baked localization.

    I haven’t seen any of these two points in one or the other of the linked pages.

    And item number 3: the localizers need either the program or clear indications about the places where the strings are used. Otherwise, same thing, the 100 out of 100 mark cannot be attained.

    Last, as a freelance translator, I disagree with “If your translation vendor is not crediting you fully for repeated text or 100% matches, you should insist on it.” The reason is that we – the people who do the actual translating job – STILL have to check that the context is right. For instance, “Time” is not always translated to “temps” in French. IIRC, in my localization of EAC, I haven’t even translated “time” into “temps” once as this word means nothing in audio editing, but “time” has had different translations depending on the context (“durée”, “longueur”, etc.) As I wrote earlier, the ultimate criterion as to quality is how well the localized program “talks” to the user. And as a software creator, I’d rather have hundreds or thousands of users not hesitate or ponder over what something means than save peanuts. But of course, I’m defending the end-worker’s interests here, which should be obvious without the need for a disclaimer.

  2. Reducing Localization and Translation Costs focuses on the initial effort..Well the ultimate measurement stick for localization quality is user perception of the translation..

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