Category Archives: Localization Tips

How to ensure the quality of your translated content

by Katerina Pippou, Linguist at Commit

Translating your content into multiple languages can help you expand your business to global markets and increase your brand prominence abroad. Quality is key to your global success, therefore you should make sure the translations you get are accurate, error-free and clearly understood by your target audience.

Although there is no specific formula you can use to measure quality, especially in a language that you don’t speak, there are several ways to ensure a positive outcome before, during and after the translation process. Use this checklist of quick tips and you’ll be able to effectively speak to your customers in their native language.

  • Be willing to invest in translation: If you think translation quality is not important, then think again! Low-quality translations may not only damage your company’s reputation but may also cost you a lot of time and money. If you want to get high-quality, professional translation, you need to have a budget for it.
  • Choose your translation provider wisely: With so many translation agencies out there, it’s hard to know which one you should trust. But if you do your homework, you can find some useful information that will help you pick the right translation provider for your organization. Make sure this provider has expertise in your industry by checking their current clients.
  • Plan ahead: Once you decide to have your content translated, you should contact your translation provider as soon as possible. Remember, a good translation takes time – it may take the same time as creating the content. If you expect large volumes or short turnaround times, you should inform your translation provider in advance, so they can plan their resources accordingly.
  • Prepare your content for translation: A great translation starts with a great source text. You cannot expect the translation to improve upon the poor quality of the original. Ask from your copywriters to be concise and clear, and to double-check the content they create for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. When it comes to software strings, try to include comments and/or screenshots, so as to provide the translators with as much context as possible. This will help you prevent back-and-forth communications and speed up the translation process.
  • Collaborate closely with your translation provider: Translation is a difficult process. Providing precise instructions, reference material, glossaries and style guides, not only could make this process easier, but it could also ensure high-quality results from the start. In case of queries or clarifications, try to answer to all questions promptly and clearly and, what is most important, listen carefully to your translators’ concerns and be open to their suggestions.
  • Use third-party evaluation services: A great way to assess the quality of your translated content is to have a third-party provider review it. Third-party reviews add value to your content if they are performed by experienced, in-country linguists who have a good understanding of the local market and your brand, are not focused on mere error detection, and approach the initial translation in a collaborative and not competitive way.
  • Ask your audience: The best way to evaluate the quality of your translated content is to ask feedback from your users. Consider adding a feedback/rating feature to find out whether your content is clearly understood. This way you will get useful information about the quality of your translations directly from your customers, and you will be able to improve your content.

8 tips for creating global eLearning content

by Eftychia Tsilikidou, Project Coordinator at Commit

According to a recent report, the corporate eLearning (or eTraining) market is constantly growing and it seems that this tendency will continue in the coming years. This comes as no surprise given that the business world is already lead by new-generation employees who are more independent and like to do everything in their own way, and the fact that eLearning is a cost-effective solution compared to the in-class training.

In our internationalized era, where content can reach global audiences in the blink of an eye, the choice to localize eLearning content is self-evident. Therefore, if you are considering creating an eLearning course that will be subsequently localized in one or many foreign languages, there are certain points to take into account:

  1. English is the main language most organizations choose to create their eLearning courses and thus International English is the recommended variation to adopt for the development of your online course. At this stage, it is very important to create culture-neutral content. Avoid idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms and country-specific references, extracts from literature or poetry as this may pose certain restrictions in the translation process. Use humor cautiously as it is very culture-centric. What is considered humorous in one country might be offensive in another.
  2. Carefully examine your target audience and consider issues related to their geographic location, customs associated with the audience, certain language requirements or possible restrictions that may occur in the localization process (for example, right-to-left languages and their support in various platforms, various language variations and the appropriateness of the translatable content for these languages).
  3. A picture is worth a thousand words. An image is, in many cases, a strong means to back a certain theory or illustrate an idea in a clearer way. So, it is essential to choose culturally appropriate and acceptable images for the target audience. Try to opt for neutral images of people, humanoid images or vector images. The aim is always to have a natural target result to achieve the desired purpose. It is also advisable to avoid adding text into images. Texts within the images may increase cost and time, as there is a certain amount of extra work involved in the extraction and import of the text.
  4. Audio: choose the right narrator for your audience. It is very important to know that in some cultures, as in the Middle-East and South Asia, people expect the voice of the narrator to be very authoritative and firm. In other cultures, as in Western countries, people would expect a friendly, informal tone. Make sure your narrator sounds professional for the intended audience.
  5. Use the appropriate authoring tools to create your eLearning courses (Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora Inspire to name a few), as they provide a choice to export the course content into an MS-Word or XML document with just a click. These formats are easily supported by the software used by translators and translation service providers and once translated, they can be imported back with yet another click.
  6. Keep in mind that some languages are wordy and the translated content may expand by 30 to 50% compared to the English original. This means that you need to provide ample space in your course for this purpose and possibly provide more time for reading before releasing the next text block in the screen.
  7. Make sure the content can run in most platforms, including mobile devices, which appears to be the most widely used means for viewing eLearning content.
  8. Hire professionals. Professional native translators who are subject matter experts (SMEs) possess the skills required to incorporate appropriate cultural variations and terminology into the translated version. Choose to work closely with your translation partner sharing meaningful information for the correct understanding of your intended message.

The 6 Laws of Translation Project Management*

by Effie Salourou , Customer Operations Manager at Commit  

  1. Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will

First of all, you need to embrace the fact that this risk is real. Be proactive at the early stages of project planning and try to accurately interpret project requirements. Adopt a risk management methodology and try to spot any future problems, needs and setbacks. Whether that is poor scope stability, time consuming processes or insufficient project prep time, you need to identify and eliminate all major shortcomings. Setting clear goals from the start will help you avoid extra work and possible delays.

  1. Lakein’s Law: Failing to plan is planning to fail

Quite often, when project managers receive tight-turnaround projects they rush into execution without doing the proper preparation and planning first. But it is exactly in those cases when we lack time to plan, that we should take the time to plan. Very often, at the early stages of a project, when no one is doing actual project work, rather they are engaged in project preparation, analysis and planning, this is often wrongly interpreted as doing nothing. Yet when it comes to project planning, you should take the time you need. Do not give the go-ahead unless you are certain that you have gathered all the necessary information and covered all aspects of the project.

  1. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available

You have a week to finish a proposal, and yet you wait until Friday afternoon to finalize it. You have two months to work on a localization project and you make the last QA checks 2 hours before delivery. Do those scenarios ring a bell?

Another example of Parkinson’s Law is cases when you have a whole week to complete a 2-hour task. When you have all this time on your hands, there is a good chance that this task will creep up in complexity and become more intimidating so as to fill a whole week. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s extra work that will fill up all the extra time, it might just be the stress and tension about having to get it done. These situations can be nerve-racking and mentally challenging. To avoid them, set clear deadlines for all project stages, from vendor hand-off to QA, DTP, LSO and final delivery to client. Impose strict but reasonable time constraints for every project step and make the whole team stick to them.

  1. Cohn’s Law: The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything

Avoid long, unproductive discussions and meetings. A successful meeting should be all about sharing ideas, asking the right questions and finding the right answers and should only be held if it adds value to the project. Pick the right team members to attend the meeting, assign responsibilities, focus on solutions and end the meeting with action items.

The same goes for written reports. Avoid long, extremely detailed reports. Nobody has the time (or actually wants) to read a 10-page report on the progress of a project. Make sure it’s accurate and contains all the right information but keep it short and simple!

  1. Constantine’s Law: A fool with a tool is still a fool

Software tools are meant to make our work (and life) easier. But with the vast range of translation management programs, CRM software and CAT tools that are offered in the translation market, sometimes we get so overwhelmed that our work ends up being more complicated than it should. Primarily, try to leverage the software you already have at your disposal and make sure you are using all the features it has to offer. If you are experimenting with new tools, do your homework first, then choose the ones that fit your business and make sure you get a proper and thorough training.

  1. Kinser’s Law: About the time you finish doing something, you know enough to start

Do a post-mortem after every major project or in defined intervals for ongoing projects. Sometimes that would be a simple “What have we learnt doing this?” and other times it will be a complete report on time, cost and performance.

Part of it is also measuring the success of your project. A project constitutes as successful if it results in profit, if it brings new knowledge to the organization, if it helps the business expand to new markets or if it improves the existing processes.

Also, try to have your post-mortem directly after a project concludes, while the details are still fresh in your mind. After a while, we tend to forget the things that went wrong in a well-executed project and vice versa. If a project doesn’t go that well, we lose sight of successes as we try to figure out what the problems were.

*This article was part of the 1st edition of “The Elia Handbook for Smart PMs” published by the European Language Industry Association

4 tips for getting started with Machine Translation

by Dimitra Kalantzi , Linguist at Commit  

There is no doubt that Machine Translation (MT) is nowadays one of the major trends in the translation and localization ecosystem. Everyone is talking and debating about it in social media, blogs, newspapers and at conferences and almost everyone, including businesses, government bodies, translation agencies, technologists and even freelance translators, is trying their hand at it. If your business or translation agency is also considering getting on the MT bandwagon, you might find the following tips useful:

  1. Remember that MT is an investment and should form an integral part of your localization and overall business strategy. That is, unless you have your own IT/NLP (Natural Language Processing) department or are big enough to set up such a department, you’ll have to turn to the pros, in this case MT providers. With their experience, they‘ll help you determine what your needs are and how best to fulfill them in terms of system (rules-based, statistical, neural, hybrid), languages, types of texts, confidentiality, availability (onsite or in the cloud) and pricing, among other things.
  1. Make your market research as thorough as possible. You might be surprised, but as you’ll find out the market is rather huge with lots of alternatives on offer. Ask around and more importantly, ask from each MT provider you contact to provide you with a list of criteria they consider the most important in choosing an MT solution. This way, you’ll be able to collate the information you gather into a single list of criteria that are important to you and make an informed decision based on your own needs, capabilities and aspirations.
  1. Set realistic expectations. No MT system will work out of the box, no matter the amount of initial training it receives. You’ll have to invest time and money in order to reap the benefits of MT. In addition, be realistic regarding the adoption of post-editing by your freelance translators and beware of losing your most valued partners. Putting aside the gross generalisation that translators dislike MT and technology in general, many translators are indeed reluctant to take on post-editing tasks for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is the fact that because of the way they are currently practiced by some in the translation industry, MT and post-editing are often viewed as tools mainly targeted at lowering translation rates.
  1. Bring in the translators and/or agencies you work with from the outset, even before committing to MT and a particular system. Their collaboration and input might make all the difference to the success or failure of your MT venture. Bear in mind that although the role usually reserved for translators as far as MT is concerned is that of the post-editor, translators can also be of immense help in other related areas, such as MT evaluation and the maintenance and clean-up of translation memories (TMs) used in the training of MT engines.

Hopefully, these tips will help you in your first exploratory steps with MT. But remember, adopting MT is by no means obligatory and you’ll be able to review your circumstances and decision further down the road. And whether you decide to go down the rabbit hole or not, rest assured that your trusted Commit linguists are here to help you deliver your products and services, as well as market your brand in the local language, and who knows, accompany you on your MT journey.

A look back at your favorite posts from 2016!

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Now that 2016 has come to an end, we thought it would be a good idea to do a round-up of our most popular content from last year. So here it is:

The contribution of linguists in times of crisis

Refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, so many unfortunate crisis situations seem to have happened last year that affected everyone in our globalized world: civilians, governments, businesses. However, how often do we think of the importance of communication in times of crisis?

How glossaries improve the quality of your translations

This post explains exactly what a glossary is, what we should include in it and how and why we should create one.

10 tips on expanding your business globally

Are you considering taking your first steps in the global market, in an attempt to reach international audiences with your products or services? With the use of social media and the Internet, the world has become a much smaller place. Our society is globally connected and many people around the world can now access your products or services. But going global is no easy task! It requires time, effort and money. Read our 10 tips and make sure you’re on the right track.

ISO 17100: Ensuring quality translations for your business

This blog post explains exactly what the ISO 17100 standard is, what are its main differences from the EN 15038 standard and what are its added benefits.

Localizing mHealth apps: Do special regulatory terms and conditions apply?

As mHealth apps are changing the standards of healthcare services and open up new possibilities for patients and doctors alike through a constant evolution of innovative technologies and brilliant ideas, the regulatory standards and localization processes are called to take a step further and grow in tandem, putting the spotlight on the safety and accessibility of mHealth app users. In this post, we take a look at all the special regulatory terms and conditions that apply to the localization of mHealth apps.

What is machine translation and how can your business benefit from it

In this post, we take a deep dive into the world of machine translation explaining exactly what it is and how it can help businesses all around the world.

Crowdsourcing translation: Pro or Con?

An important advantage of the “connected world”, apart from the unlimited access to all kinds of information, is that it brought together previously “disconnected” people, groups or crowds – giving them the opportunity to become more active and engaged in the world around them. Read this post and learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of this method.

How to find the localization partner that is right for your business

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Finding the right localization partner can be a challenge, but is also crucial for your business as it reflects on the quality of your products. But, how can you ensure that you’re buying top quality services when you are not familiar with a language and cannot evaluate the results yourself? Below you can find a few tips that will help you streamline the whole process and make the right choices.

  1. Set specific criteria – Determine your budget, the languages you’ll need localization services for, the overall volume of your project, the timeframe etc. Once you have a clear understanding of the requirements and expectations your localization partner should meet, it will be much easier to narrow down your choices.
  2. Ask for references and information – After selecting a couple of potential providers based on the above criteria, ask them for references and detailed information on their experience in the specific field (e.g. translated volumes, end clients from the same industry, type of translated content). It is also advisable to ask for a sample translation and have this checked by a third-party; it is a small additional cost that can save you a lot of time and money in the future.
  3. Look out for hidden costs – Cost is always a decisive factor when making a business decision, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Although lower prices can be attractive, they can prove to be really expensive at the end. A higher rate that includes not merely translation, but editing and proofreading as well, or even project management, e.g. file preparation and formatting, may actually represent a more reliable and cost-effective solution for your business, as it will not only ensure high quality but it will also help you save time and resources.
  4. Take value-added services into consideration – If you have difficulty choosing between two equally qualified providers, with similar financial proposals, the value-added services they offer can play a decisive role. For example, if you’re looking to localize a software application, it would be best to work with a partner that can handle both linguistic and functional testing. Or, if you’re localizing your product brochures, why spend your time and effort looking for a DTP expert, when your localization partner can offer you the same services?

In short, while it may seem that finding the right partner can be a time-consuming and arduous task, it is well worth it. Consider it an investment that will keep on giving for many year to come, offering you all the benefits that come from a successful partnership!

10+1 tips to prepare your software for the world!

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Many companies seek to localize their online, desktop or client-server products for the worldwide market. But due to lack of appropriate preparation and planning, many localization attempts are met with frustration once the software is built: the encoding doesn’t look right, the text is corrupted, sentences are cut off and in general, the software does not work as initially designed.

Here are some tips to help you avoid these problems, save time and money and produce a quality product for the global market.

1. Analyze the situation and plan ahead

Many companies do not think about software localization until the last minute before a product release. Scheduling and planning should be made well in advance and it should take into account all the necessary steps of the process: translation, review, testing and regression in order to deliver a quality product.

2. Externalize all translatable content

Taking the text out of the code and placing it in resource files is the first step towards a properly internationalized application. Separating the text to be localized from the code helps to avoid code duplication issues and also lets translators and engineers work on updates at the same time. Furthermore, it removes the possibility of damaging code during translation.

3. Invest in a style guide and glossary

The style guide defines the style, terminology and conventions from the beginning and provides uniformity in style and formatting throughout your software and documentation. It improves the quality of your translations, minimizes inconsistencies, adds professionalism to your work and saves time and money.

4. Understand translation tools

Learning more information about how translation tools work will help you take maximum advantage of this technology. Translation Memory is a tool that stores all translations into a database in real-time as the translator works. This database stores “segments”, which can be sentences, paragraphs or sentence-like units (headings, titles or elements in a list) that have previously been translated, in order to aid translators. These segments can be reused when the same segment is repeated elsewhere in the project, or in updates. These tools greatly diminish the time and cost of translation.

5. Provide room for text expansion

Translated text in most languages takes up to 30 percent more space than the English text. Leave enough room on your layout for expansion or program dynamic UI expansion into your software. If there are strings that cannot exceed a certain size, you should include comments in the resource file for those items.

6. Use Unicode/UTF-8 encoding of strings

Make sure to always source your string tables or software resources in Unicode/UTF-8 encoding. These character sets are created to enable support of any written language worldwide. Having just one way to process text reduces development and support costs, helps to avoid extra conversion steps, improves time-to-market, and allows for one single version of source code.

7. Avoid concatenation and overuse of single strings

Most languages do not follow the English syntax and word order. Concatenated strings and strings that are used in multiple contexts end up having awkward grammatical constructions and gender agreement issues.

Concatenation only works when content is written for a specific language. Now, when it comes to localization, concatenation makes it difficult – even impossible in certain cases.

8. Internationalize dates/numbers etc.

This step is very important because it enables dates, numbers, and other region-specific data to appear in a familiar way to users all around the world. Such data may differ even between regions that speak the same language. For example, while the US use MM/DD/YYYY for date, UK use DD/MM/YYYY.

When writing code, engineers should always keep in mind that countries might use different date and time formats, they might use a different calendar system, they might be in a time zone with partial-hour offset, they might use different currency, they might have different phone number formats and they might use a different measurement system.

9. Provide comments in software resources

The use of comments in software resources can be very helpful for translators because knowing the context and use of certain strings can help them choose the right translation from the beginning. Most translation tools will let translators see these comments while translating.

10. Localize help (UA) and software (UI) at the same time

Many non-English users around the world have noticed when Help or a User guide prompts them to click on a button that it is worded differently in the software itself. Try to localize the user’s manual, online help files and graphical user interface (GUI) at the same time to ensure consistency.

10 + 1. Test your software

Testing the software before its release is an integral step in the translation process. It should be performed by trained localization QA professionals and it will help to expose possible technical issues related to UI sizing, text truncation, hard-coded strings, character corruption and over- translation. This final step also gives the linguist the chance to actually see his translation in full context, often resulting in necessary changes to the translation.