Why The Correct Localization Methodology Matters!

Technolgoy IndependenceLast week, we received the following email:

“Primarily we are trying to identify new, changed, deleted material.  Any leveraging of prior translations is a possible side benefit in a small number of cases, not the main goal.  At this point I am reconsidering and may just go to something like compare differences between the two branches in a CMS tool.

Now that we have just finished the huge task of getting all translated material synced with English we want to create a workflow that keeps us synced but does not involve a huge project every release.  

In the past we would only update a few books each release.  Books were selected which seemed most out of sync with English versions.  We were guided by user complaints but no hard data.  I’m looking for a more exact and sustainable methods that will keep our localization costs steady but give higher quality non-English documentation.  I imagine most of your software vendor customers face a similar problem. 

Since you are the experts your opinion is most valuable to me.”

With the advent of Translation Memory software and Hybrid Top-Down and Bottom-Up localization methodologies, technical writers and developers no longer need to keep track of what changes take place on their software and documentation. Instead they can focus on delivering the best content possible for their local and international end users, leaving the finding and retrieving of previously translated text to diff tools and search engines.

We recommend authors and technical writers focus on:

  1. Clarity: Make sure that the source documents are clear and accurate, keeping them simple and straight to the point.
  2. Efficiency: Eliminate obsolete and redundant information and minimize changes when unnecessary. Obsolete and redundant info is detrimental to the user’s ability to use the product and increases the cost of the initial localization. Unnecessary changes will increase the costs of future localization updates.
  3. Consistency: Accurate and consistent use of terminology, particularly when there is a software component that is also localized, will greatly improve the quality of the product and expedites the process of localization. Both your users and translators will thank you when your text and terminology are broadly consistent.

In our 16 years in business we’ve translated all sorts of documentation, from the well written to the mangled. At times, our translators find themselves in the position to clarify, correct and edit the source text before they can correctly translate it, a task best performed by a technical writer once, than by an entire translation team multiplied by the number of needed languages!

Follow these three simple rules and you will be doing a great favor not only to your local users, but also to international ones. Meanwhile, delegate the challenge of keeping track of changing document translation to your localization’s team tools, processes and methodologies. And by the way, if they won’t handle text reuse efficiently, hire someone that will!

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