“If the slower economy is taking a toll on your budget, consider the below suggestions to reduce your localization and translation costs without impacting quality.” -Nabil Freij, President of GlobalVision International Inc.
Verbosity Is the Enemy
It pays to be concise and straight to the point, eliminating unnecessary text when translation is imminent. When writing technical documents, remember that simplicity is very much desired by the end-user.
Reuse strings and sentences whenever context permits it. Many technical translation vendors give credit for repeated text. This is because they can easily eliminate re-translation with the use of translation memory and search engines. If your translation vendor is not crediting you fully for repeated text or 100% matches, you should insist on it.
When updating documentation versions, resist the urge to make non-technical or cosmetic changes. Changes often prevent the translation memory’s search engine from making exact matches, resulting in increased costs and time due to translation updates.
Minimize Text in Graphics
Eliminate unneeded graphics-based text in the docs and help. Remember that if the user is reading online help topics, he or she has the software running in parallel. As such, there is no need to include all pertinent dialog boxes in the help. He or she will already see them displayed by the software. In addition, when authoring with a desktop publishing tool, place all graphics-related text in callouts, instead of embedding that text in the graphics.
If you are shipping hardcopy English documentation, consider reallocating dollars from printing and shipping to localization. PDF, HTML and other online documentation formats are becoming a more common and feasible alternative to printed documents. International users would much rather print and use a manual in their native language than receive a printed one in English.
Quality 1st, then Translation Costs
Your primary goal is to help the end-user better understand and use your product. The above practices should not deter focus on the fact that it is the end-user who must benefit the most from the released documentation.
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