Translation quality plays a particularly important role in certain fields (such as the pharmaceutical industry, medicine, contract law, etc.), and can be improved significantly with the help of CAT tools. On the other hand, CAT tools favor the emergence of a new type of error which, in the worst-case scenario, can have dramatic consequences for all parties involved. This article describes the possible causes of this new type of error.

The advantages of CAT tools

Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine modern localization without the use of computer-aided translation, or “CAT” tools. The main benefits of CAT tools are well-known. They include: 

  • Improved consistency of translations
  • Shorter delivery times
  • A larger volume of translations at a quicker turnaround time
  • Greater quality assurance capabilities
  • Cost-saving due to differential pricing.

The disadvantages and problems caused by CAT tools

There is one specific type of error that should have actually been completely eliminated via the use of CAT tools. During my professional career as a translation manager on the buyerside, I have encountered many different translation errors in the delivered documents. These errors ranged from minor mistakes to severe safety-critical faults.

Different error types

Let’s consider the following three incorrect translations from the area of human medicine:

  1. English source text: 
    Do not leave missing or broken-off components inside the patient.
    French translation:
    Ne jamais laisser de pièces manquantes ou brisées dans l’animal.
    Meaning of the French translation:
    Do not leave missing or broken-off components inside the animal (instead of the patient).
  2. German source text:
    Geeignete Handschuhe tragen (Wear suitable gloves).
    Chinese translation:
    Geeignete Schuhe tragen (Wear suitable shoes).
  3. English source text: 
    ATTENTION: The pressure compensation cap must not be in place on the vent port.
    Meaning of the Finnish translation:
    ATTENTION: The pressure compensation cap should be in place on the vent port.

Error analysis

When we take a closer look at the above mentioned examples, we see that they are similar to a certain extent.

The first error can be attributed to the fact that the translation memory (TM) contained two different translations of the English word “patient” into French: one in the context of human medicine (“patient”) and one in the context of veterinary medicine (“animal”).

Although the translation suggestion was incorrect due to the different subjects (human vs veterinary medicine), the translator overlooked this. 

In the second example, the error arises from the fact that there was already a translation in the TM which used the word “shoes”. Again, the translator seems to have mistakenly accepted the CAT tool’s suggestion which resulted in a faulty Chinese translation. 

The third case has very serious consequences for all parties involved. The very hazard which the source text warns against is recommended in the translation. Again, the TM already contained a version of a translation with “should be”. While the CAT tool’s suggestion is inappropriate,  the translator accepted the suggestion without making any necessary changes.  

An issue of compliance

One might conclude that the language service provider did not work according to the requirements of the ISO 17100 standard. These errors should have been detected at the latest during the revision stage, i.e. during bilingual editing. However, all these translations were produced by well-known translation agencies with ISO certification. As the examples show, the use of CAT tools in the translation process does not preclude human errors.

The CAT price grid

Nowadays translation costs are calculated per word using a so-called CAT price grid. This means that costs are weighted, depending on the TM match level, that is, whether existing segments match the new translations fully (100% matches), partially (fuzzy matches) or not at all (so called “new words”). 100% matches usually cost about 10% of the full word price, because even 100% matches should be checked for potential context adjustments that may be needed.

In practice, many companies exclude 100% matches from the packages sent to translators, either to avoid these revision costs, or because time constraints do not allow translators to fully check those segments. Therefore, as a consequence of the use of CAT tools, there may be a number of TM suggestions that are correct but inappropriate in specific contexts. Errors arise from accepting these suggestions without checking or adapting them accordingly. 

A possible solution

Some argue that translation has come to resemble the industrial mass production process, straying away from its creative origins. However, this need not necessarily be the case. We can use the full power of technology and industry standards to arrive at a translation process that is both efficient and retains its essential human element. One solution that has been discussed recently is rethinking the pricing logic for the industry: what if translators were paid by the hour instead of by the word?

This would mean a shift from a quantitative, word-based approach, to a quality-focused framework where the larger context of the text is considered. This might prove beneficial for everyone:translators and editors would see their working conditions improve and translations managers and users would receive fully adapted, less error-prone translations. Renato Beninatto (Nimdzi Insights) highlights this subject by explaining how crucial it is to renegotiate translation rates for the translation industry.

Join the discussion! Let us know what you think in the comments. And if you’d like to know more about how CAT tools are used, visit our blog.

Finding the right translation agency isn’t easy. This article outlines some of the do’s and don’ts of picking the right language service provider and helps you get the most out of their service.

So you’re in need of a translation agency: you’ve decided to launch a product line internationally, your website needs to be multilingual, legal stipulations require you to provide help instructions in multiple languages, or for any reason whatsoever you’re in need of translation services…

What now? There’s a large number of translation agencies out there, or ‘language service providers’ (a.k.a. LSPs), as they’re sometimes called. As a first-time buyer, what are the things to keep in mind when picking the right translation agency?

What Can a Translation Agency or a Language Service Provider Actually Do for You?

Well, firstly, you need to know what you require from them. Some agencies just offer basic translation services, whilst others can provide you with practically everything on the linguistic front: from extensive proofreading, subtitling and copywriting services to localization, that is, adaptation of your entire product line to specific cultures. Additionally, some agencies specialize in a specific subject matter: software, legal documents, marketing texts… Depending on what you need, you will need to decide if you’ll go for a ‘one-stop shop’ solution or for a specialized agency. 

Do’s 

  • Make an overview of all the material that needs to be translated, including the required languages, word counts, subject matters, and required quality per product.
  • Get different quotes from different agencies.
  • Ask about the agency’s experience with similar clients.
  • Research the LSP online to find out how their translation process is organized and whether it is using the latest translation technologies.

Don’ts 

  • Expect high quality for low prices; beware of offers that seem ‘too good to be true’
  • Hire your colleague’s nephew who happens to know a specific language – translation is a whole different process.
  • See translation as a ‘cheap’ commodity: low-quality translations will definitely have a negative impact on your ROI.

You’ve Picked a Suitable Translation Agency — How Do You Get the Most Out of Our Cooperation?

Now is the time to make sure the agency – in particular their project manager – gets all the information it needs to create effective translations. Mind you, this is definitely not a ‘sit and stare process’: you will need to actively monitor the progress of the translation project and make sure proper translation project management guidelines are being followed. Here are a few tips on streamlining the translation process: 

Do’s 

  • Make sure your material is optimized for translation: if possible, avoid local cultural references and use of material (images, colors, etc.) that might be seen as inappropriate in other cultures, but also make sure your material is readable and understandable to your intended audience.
  • Provide the agency with any helpful reference or training materials that could help translators understand your product better. Should you have any standardized terminology within your organization, make sure to send your glossaries or term lists to the agency.
  • If you’ve hired translation services in the past, make sure to provide your new agency with a ‘translation memory’. If you don’t yet know what that means, read  this article for more information on the language technology that is being used by translation agencies.
  • Hire or assign a single contact person in your organization that can uniformly respond to questions from the translation agency’s project manager.

Don’ts

  • Be unavailable for questions or give ambiguous responses to their project manager. This will directly impact the quality of the translation.
  • Forget to make sure both parties have a clear understanding of the deliverables. To avoid misunderstandings, make sure to agree on things like: does the project include proofreading or DTP services to make sure all layout issues are solved? How many rounds of revision are allowed? Does the agency send you the translation memory upon request?

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. To find out more about the translation and localization industry and check out tips from experts in the field, visit the TCLoc Master’s blog

With software still “eating the world”, as Marc Andreessen was already describing back in 2011, it is very necessary to facilitate software localization so you can sell your products in countries across the globe. One of the most common ways to do this is to engage a language service provider (LSP). So, you choose a reputable LSP and hand your source files over to them. Does that mean that your multilingual software localisation project will be a success? The answer is no. Unfortunately, many technology startups have fallen into the trap of starting software localization without doing essential preparation work, something that is vital to avoid extensive revisions later on. One major aspect of this advanced preparation work is terminology management using an appropriate terminology management system. Using a terminology database helps ensure consistent translations.

Without terminology management, terminology errors will find their way into the end result, meaning that many corrections will need to be done. This costs a lot of time and money compared to cases where terminology management is applied from the beginning. What’s more, this correction work will increase exponentially if your software is going to be translated into multiple languages. Not only is this costly, it can also lead to a loss of trust among customers – a sloppy translation is not a good look for your company. Terminology is therefore key to successful software localization.

The Function of Terminology in Software

The biggest difference between software documentation and literary works is that software documentation places a lot of importance on consistent terminology. For example, if you are reading a novel, the main character might be sometimes described as a loving father and other times as a tyrant. In software, however, a system administrator must always be a system administrator. If you change the name of the person who performs a certain operation, then readers might think that the operation is performed by someone else. Thus, the role of terminology is to provide consistency so that readers know exactly which concept a given term is referring to.

Choosing Software to Manage your Terminology Database

So, what kind of software should you use for your terminology database? Here are some of the most commonly used ones:

If you’re already using a CAT tool such as SDL Trados or memoQ, you may want to use its integrated terminology management system. These offer translators and translation project managers many more features than something like an Excel file, which was unfortunately the common solution in localization for a long time.

How to Add Terms to a Terminology Database

When you add terms to a terminology management system, make sure you follow these best practices:

  • Store terms in their base form.
  • Remember that terms should remove ambiguity.
  • Save terms with as much metadata as possible to guide linguists in deciding which term to use and when.
  • Ensure that you keep the termbase up to date.

Some LSPs will help build your terminology database for you, so it is a good idea to ask them for assistance.

Conclusion and Next Steps

You now know that terminology preparation is not something that needs to be tedious and costly – it is an investment in establishing a process that will maintain translation quality and reduce rework in the future. If you want to learn more about terminology management, check out this free online training from Trados. In addition, the TCLoc Master’s program has experienced instructors who can teach you what you need to know about software localization, terminology management and many other topics. Read more about the application requirements and the program format. Submit your application now! Intakes are available in January and July.

In today’s global market, it’s not enough to have your content available in only one language: from marketing materials to product catalogues, multilingual content is becoming the standard. But there’s more to translating your text than just transforming it from one language into another. In bringing your content to the correct audience, the secondary stages in the translation process, proofreading and editing the translated text, are what ultimately make the text ready for its intended purpose.

Why is editing translations important?

Wherever humans are involved in a process, there will be a certain number of errors. This is as much the case in translation as in any other industry – and, in fact, even machine translation has its limits in terms of accuracy. Even a text that is translated by a highly specialised, experienced and qualified translator using the most sophisticated of computer-aided translation (CAT) tools can contain errors or mistranslations, which, if not reviewed, could slip through to the final product. This can result in an inaccurate text and a disappointed customer. To avoid this, the translation industry now recognises the TEP process (translation, editing, proofreading) as a standard in ensuring the highest translation quality. These two subsequent review phases mean that the translated text has been read by at least two additional language experts before being returned to the client.

What is TEP? Translation, editing, proofreading

As explained above, translation is not a single step, but a multi-stage process, consisting of Translation, Editing, and Proofreading (TEP). Following the TEP process ensures both that the text will have the highest quality possible and that it will be most suitable for your target audience.

Translation is the first step in the translation process: bringing the original text into the target language. This should be carried out by a qualified translator with the target language as their mother tongue. Professional translators generally work with the aid of a CAT tool. This powerful software provides the translator with access to translation memories, ensuring accuracy and maximum efficiency in terms of time and cost.

Editing and proofreading are the next tasks in the process. These are usually carried out by the same language vendor that produces your translation; however, if these services are not offered, you should consider seeking help from another external source. Editing takes place after the text has been translated into the target language. Proofreading is the final stage in this process before your text is considered ready to be released. Below, you will learn more about the work carried out in these two steps and the differences between them.

What is the difference between proofreading and editing in the translation process?

  • Editing is the process performed immediately after translation. The translation is edited by a second qualified translator with the target language as his or her native tongue so that the source and target text can be compared. This means that the editor can ensure that the translated text is true to the source and that no changes in meaning have been introduced. Editors may also be experts in a particular field and so will be able to spot errors in terminology or word usage. Additionally, he or she will make certain that the text is appropriate for the intended target market, such as checking that the spellings or measurement units used in the text are appropriate for that country, or that certain phrases will be understood correctly. Finally, an editor is responsible for ensuring that the translated text flows correctly in the target language: if it doesn’t read as though originally written in this language, a native speaker will find the text jarring and hard to read.
  • Proofreading is another highly skilled job that should not be confused with editing. It is the final stage in the process and is carried out by a third qualified person. As this step only makes use of the target text, this person may not be a translator, but will be an expert in, and mother-tongue speaker of, the target language. After all the changes from the editing stage have been implemented, it is the proofreader’s task to ensure that there are no lingering errors that either have been missed by, or introduced during, the editing process. Proofreaders also look for errors or inconsistencies in grammar, style, punctuation and spelling, as well as checking for repetition of words or punctuation, correct line spacing and overall appearance.

Conclusion: Translation and TCLoc

When all three of these processes have been completed, your translation should be both as error-free as possible and appropriate for your target market. To ensure the highest quality standards in your translated text, look for a language vendor that uses TEP in its translation process and adheres to the ISO 17100 translation standard. For other information on the translation and localisation industry, take a look at the TCLoc Blog and follow us on Twitter.

A quarter of Americans have at least one smart speaker device. But what languages can these devices speak? In this article we will discuss the challenges that the localization of smart speakers may entail.

What Is A Smart Speaker?

A smart speaker is a speaker with an integrated virtual assistant that enables human-machine interaction. We can ask our smart speaker trivial questions about the weather or latest news, or make it the central hub for our smart home to control our electronic devices, be it a fridge or a TV. In the past few years, smart speakers have entered many homes all over the globe. According to The Smart Audio Report, in 2019, 24% of adult Americans were using at least one smart speaker device. But what about other countries? How hard is it to localize a language for a smart speaker?

What Languages Can You Speak with Your Smart Speaker?

The most popular smart speakers that support multiple languages include Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod. The big market players are working hard on introducing more and more languages to their smart speakers to reach a bigger audience. Currently, the number of languages supported by virtual assistants is as follows: Amazon’s Alexa – 8, Google Assistant on Home devices – 13, Apple’s Siri on HomePod – only 6 languages. These smart speakers also speak some dialects of English, French and Spanish. However, overall these numbers do not seem that impressive. Why do the global market players not localize their smart speakers in more languages?

Localization Challenges for Smart Speakers

Language localization for a smart speaker is a costly and elaborate development process, as it requires the collection, analysis and testing of a vast amount of speech data. We cannot just take the strings of information used to generate the input and output for an English-speaking smart speaker and translate them word-for-word into, say, Russian. The goal of a virtual assistant is to imitate natural human conversation, so we expect our smart speaker to have not only grammatically correct speech, but also some knowledge about our local culture. For example, we may want it to tell us the local news or a joke that will be understood in a given cultural context.

In 2018 Google announced the localization of its virtual assistant into 30 languages. As of 2021, Google has not even reached half of this goal. This can be explained by the fact that it takes the same amount of effort and money to teach a virtual assistant to speak languages with only a few million native speakers as it does to introduce a much more commonly spoken language. It is no surprise that many smart speakers can speak Spanish (483 million native speakers), but not Latvian or Slovenian (1.3 and 2.5 million speakers respectively). It is therefore sensible to assume that it will probably take some time until languages with fewer native speakers become available on smart speakers – not so much because of their linguistic complexity, but due to their lack of potential profitability.

The big smart speaker producers have not only been slow in localizing the less widely spoken languages, but also some of the more widely spoken ones, such as Chinese and Russian. This delay opened the door to local tech companies to introduce their monolingual smart speakers. For example, the Yandex.Station smart speaker with its integrated virtual assistant Alice has literally no competition on the Russian-speaking market as there is no other smart speaker supporting the Russian language. The advantage of such monolingual smart speakers is that local companies may concentrate on developing a product specifically designed for their own market. This allows them to create a product which sounds more authentic and is better able to reflect the specific local cultural nuances than its international counterparts.

Future Prospects of Smart Speakers Across the Globe

Artificial intelligence technology is constantly developing, giving us reason to believe that the costs for smart speaker localization will decrease with time. This will allow smart speakers to speak more languages and acquire more functions, making them increasingly useful for many households all over the world.

What is your experience with smart speakers? Do they speak your native language yet? Let us know in the comments. 

Do you want to learn more about localization? Apply to the TCLoc Master’s Program now!

Managing multilingual translation projects in an international organization brings with it exciting but also challenging tasks for translation managers. For example, when the translation volumes required go beyond internal capacities and possibilities, you will have to consider external translation services. Even if  there are countless options for translation services out there, which one should you choose? 

How you can profit from translation services

First of all, your requirements should be clear. Here are some typical questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you need a wide variety of languages covering a broad range of subject areas? 
  • Do you need translations in different languages at the same time, or do you need translations into one specific language? 
  • What is the estimated translation volume you manage per year? 
  • What role do time and costs play in your translation projects? 
  • Do you want to connect with the translation company or translator via a CAT Tool or Translation Management System? 
  • Do you need graphical or advanced technical support? (e.g., text embedded in figures, layout-oriented files, tagged HTML and XML files).
  • Do you need additional support such as proofreading, editing, transcription, transcreation (e.g. for SEO keywords), advanced localization services for Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) and software products? 

As soon as you have a good idea of what you really need in terms of translation services, you can start sorting out the possibilities and comparing them carefully.

Know your benefits: translation company vs. freelance translator

Let’s continue with one of the basic decisions when choosing translation services. Selecting a translation service provider involves advantages and limitations, whether you go with a translation company, a freelance translator, or even a mix of both.,

Most translation companies can select suitable translators from a large database. What this means for you is increased flexibility and availability. When you have to deal with many source and target languages, you can be sure that a translation company will quickly find a suitable translator. Imagine that your manager asks you to organize a translation project for a language you’ve never worked with before. Here you can save energy and leave the choice to your translation company. Or worst-case scenario: the translator has fallen ill, and your project is on ice. A crisis-proof translation company knows what to do and will find a suitable replacement. 

On the other hand, the documents to be translated will pass through many different hands, from a project manager at the translation company to the translator and, depending on the standards applied, an editor and/or a proofreader. Last but not least, a graphics designer might be involved if you ordered desktop publishing services. This means indirect communication with many different people via the project manager, which affects the time and cost factors. 

So if you prefer direct communication with your translators and other team members, and you have a manageable order volume, you can also opt for a freelance translator provided that they can offer all the services you require. Of course, you can match both options, but don’t forget: the more partners you choose for external translation services, the more resources you will use, considering aspects such as translation memory exchange and management, glossary maintenance, and internal costs required for managing external resources.

How to get both affordable translation services and high quality

Normally, pricing is one of the crucial factors when looking for translation services. High quality translations do not always mean very high word prices. When you opt for a larger translation company rather than a single freelance translator, don’t be surprised that this will become visible in the costs. As mentioned earlier, many more people are involved when you choose a translation company, and they all need to be paid. The larger and more complex the processes of your translation service provider, the higher the word pricing is likely to be. 

Beware of huge translation agencies offering dumping prices. You can imagine who will have the smallest share of the fee – the translators. And unmotivated translators are not what you’re looking for. An exception to this rule: translation companies applying Machine Translation combined with a post-editor rather than conventional human translation processes can offer extremely favorable word prices. But don’t forget to first check with the project manager that your source texts are suited to MT processes in terms of language, subject area, quality and complexity.

Among freelance translators, you may also encounter big differences in pricing. Experienced translators with a large customer base can often afford to work for higher prices than translators who are only just starting to run their business.

Learn more and become an expert in translation & localization

If translation management seems a bit overwhelming at this point,don’t despair! Join the TCLoc Master’s study program to get to know the world of translation, localization and technical communication. Benefit from the expertise of industry professionals and master the skills needed to manage your translation projects successfully. Take a step in the right direction: apply today! 

Most language professionals might be working as translators, interpreters, or technical writers. But there is another relatively unknown profession: terminologist – the person who works with terminology. Terminology management comprises a variety of processes and tasks. It is the systematic collecting, storing, managing, importing, exporting, publishing, and maintaining of terminology in dedicated software, a so-called terminology management system.

I have been working as a multilingual terminologist in the medical technology industry for five years. Sharing my experience will give you an insight into my exciting work that goes beyond the benefits of traditional terminology management.

What Skills Does a Terminologist Need?

Although there are many paths to becoming a terminologist, a background in linguistics or translation qualifies you best for this demanding work. Furthermore, being a terminologist requires an eye for detail and the ability to research, analyze, and evaluate potential terms. As writing definitions comprises an important part of the daily work, being a clear and concise writer is a plus.

Broad expertise in the subject matter is not mandatory, as there are enough subject matter experts in the company. Your strength is language. During onboarding and employment, you will be trained on the subject matter.When managing terminology in multiple languages, a terminologist of a particular language must have excellent language expertise, know the cultural conventions, and involve subject matter experts in the corresponding country or language.

The Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament published a professional profile for terminologists and a list of universities where terminology is taught.

Broader Applicability of Terminology Data

Traditionally, terminology management has been closely related to technical communication and translation. Hence, state-of-the-art CAT tools support the integration of termbases into a translation or localization project.

For more information on CAT tools, read A Beginner’s Guide to CAT Tools.

Progressive terminology management goes beyond traditional technical communication and translation. Terminologists have to offer more than that if they want to rise to prominence and be successful in a company as well as find new ways of using terminology data and their expertise.

Advanced help authoring tools and content management systems support the import of your terminology data. Check which format works best. Computational linguists on the team can write scripts to automate processes, for instance, for various termbase exports or data cleanup.

There is a trend towards machine translation and post-editing in the localization industry. Multilingual terminology data facilitates to train a machine translation engine and to achieve better quality. Although off-the-shelf solutions have significantly improved over the last years, they do not include specialized vocabulary. For further information on machine translation post-editing, please read this blog post.

Provide your multilingual terminology data to improve the search functions of user assistance, internal knowledge bases, or internal search engines. Thanks to prescriptive terminology management – stating which term is preferred and which is deprecated – users will find the right result, even if they entered a “forbidden” term in the search field.

The creation of glossaries is often in demand. A development team might ask you for the collection of all terms that apply to a certain product. Adapt the metadata model for your terminology management system according to your needs. This allows you to create specific glossaries to serve different target groups.

Terminology data is useful when creating digital learning content. If the responsible colleagues are graphic designers and non-professional writers, they will be glad if you support them by providing them with a glossary or by performing a terminology review. Keep in mind that not everyone who creates content is using a powerful help authoring support tool like professional technical writers would

Ideally, software developers should also use the agreed and approved terminology when writing code. Encourage them to use what is already available. Ask them in which format they would like to receive the terminology data. Include them in the approval process of software terms.

In the past, terminologists just maintained flat lists with the established terminology. Nowadays, advanced terminology management systems allow maintaining multilingual terminology data in complex, hierarchical structures. There is a tendency to combine taxonomy and terminology to share knowledge. You can define hierarchical and non-hierarchical relationship types between terms. The most common hierarchical relationships are between broader and narrower terms (e.g., a bread knife is a kind of knife, a steering wheel is part of a car, German is a language). A non-hierarchical relationship can be the one between antonyms (e.g., enable and disable).

Other departments might approach you because they are looking for a repository that displays a navigable tree view for hierarchically structured data.

If terminologists offer this visualization of terms through classification and proper relationships, they contribute to knowledge management in the company.

Exemple of a navigable tree for hierarchically structured data.

Tips for Successful Terminology Management

  • Familiarize yourself quickly with the subject matter and deepen your knowledge.
  • Involve colleagues in other countries and language regions in the approval of multilingual terminology. They are generally happy to contribute to the improvement of translation quality.
  • Publish the terminology data internally. Make it accessible to all employees in all countries.
  • Provide a feedback channel for terminology-related requests within the company.
  • Be competent, friendly, and persuasive. Give a rationale for your proposals. There will always be people that are very resistant to change, even if the change is an improvement.
  • Listen to other people’s opinions and remain open to criticism.
  • Make yourself visible across departments and engage in networking.
  • Develop your knowledge of language technology.
  • Learn XML, especially TBX for termbase exchange and TMX for equivalents research.
  • Hire a terminologist that knows natural language processing with Python. This enables automatizing numerous tasks, which increases efficiency.
  • Gain competence in knowledge management.
  • Stay curious and be willing to learn new things.
  • Stay current with the latest tools and technologies.

For more articles on a variety of topics, visit the TCLoc blog.

If you are interested in the latest news, follow Master TCLoc on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

In today’s information-democratized market landscape, localizing your company website isn’t enough. 

Customers engage with brands via multiple channels, primarily online, at any time. Such multifaceted interaction is particularly intricate for companies that serve people around the globe. Indeed, customers from different locales take different paths and interact differently through different channels, while holding the same expectation for an immersive digital experience that seamlessly integrates their languages of choice and supports their preferences. Localized customer experience, therefore, is imperative for global business success.

Consequently, localization strategy is not simply about content and translation. If you are looking for best localization practices to help your company access and win global markets, one important task on your to-do list should be to integrate localization efforts across the entire customer experience. And the first step to help you achieve that is to understand the customer journey.

So what is the customer journey map and why does it matter in localization?

A customer journey is a tool that helps businesses identify the different touchpoints to engage their prospective and current customers with the right messages, at the right place at the right time. It can be represented in so-called customer journey maps. 

It’s important to tell the difference between the term “touchpoint” and the term “channel”. A touchpoint is defined as any interaction that happens between the customer and the business, while channels are where touchpoints take place. By recognizing those touchpoints and channels, localization experts can gain an essential understanding of the target customer behaviors to build up a much-needed context for content creation and UX design.

Below is an example of a simplified customer journey map that describes a common purchasing process of household appliances e.g. an airfryer or a washing machine that has just become available on the market.

Customer journey map example

A complete customer journey map is usually more complex, and the typical mapping process involves several steps from segmenting customers to building personas. If you want more details about this process, check out this article for a step-by-step guide and examples

You may now be asking yourself: what exactly is the impact of NOT using a customer journey map on overall localization success? Well, there may be no impact at all if your localization strategy focuses on a single touchpoint, such as a website. However, if the touchpoints are omnichannel, which is often the case for digital-driven businesses, this could make all the difference. Imagine this scenario: you launch your products in South America with perfect website localization in local languages and ready-to-use translated user guides, but the target audience still receives your promotion emails in English. This may confuse the audience or make them feel uneasy, since customer experience is not consistent, and content in a language that they do not master may make them distrust you and your product offering. Likewise, a customer’s interaction with your brand might be negatively affected by the lack of a localized Facebook page in a market like Vietnam where Facebook is the dominant channel for information search and online customer support.     

In a broader context, the customer journey map can also be a powerful tool during times when the customer experience is disrupted. Take the recent global coronavirus pandemic for example: buying behaviors shifted dramatically and the communication channels involved in certain locales changed significantly. An overall picture of the evolving customer–brand engagement will then be a convenient base for companies to quickly re-identify all the touchpoints, sort out any hiccups and adapt business strategy, including localization efforts, to stay relevant in the context of  a changing situation.

How to craft localization strategy that integrates your customer journey

First of all, you need to understand the customer journey. You can’t provide great localized customer experience if you don’t understand your customers. Educate yourself about existing and new target audiences, be sensitive to their cultures, develop your customer journey map and refer to it regularly.

Identify localization requirements at each touchpoint. Different stages of the journey might need different approaches to tone or voice for the channels and content involved. Your content localization strategy and UX/CX design should then address those requirements. 

Be mindful that different locales may have different customer journeys. Two locales that speak the same language can be very different from one another in terms of culture. And it’s not often the case that your branding translates perfectly from one country and one culture to another. Consider rebranding and transcreation strategies in your localization planning, and get expert advice from local service providers when needed. 

Be prepared to embrace change. Any customer journey map is a work in progress that needs reviewing regularly. That means your localization strategy needs to be flexible, especially in today’s uncertain world where customer experience is constantly evolving.

Conclusion

Customers won’t engage with brands or buy a product they don’t connect with. If your company is a business driven by customer experience, understanding the customer journey is undoubtedly one important step to ensure overall localization strategy success. 

Are you interested in learning more about localization strategy? Follow our blog for more articles on the latest localization trends. If you want to master the art of localization, you should definitely check out our intensive online Master’s degree.

SEO becomes more and more important in a localization process. On the border between digital marketing and localization, SEO is a set of techniques needed to reach your audience and appear in the top search engine results.

But its use is much more complex than simply adding keywords to your content. Localization management can become a strain on your project management team without proper organization. Here are our suggested techniques for building your strategy.

The SEO approach

When you run a business on the web, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important aspects to think about. It could be defined as the process of increasing the traffic to a website using organic search results. To do that, you will work on the keywords and relevance of the website content in order to increase the quality traffic on your webpages because users tend to visit websites that are closely related to their targeted search queries.

Most of the time, the traffic will come from people residing in your area. But you might want to target global traffic. It is therefore very important to identify each target locale and attract local consumers in those markets. Let’s discuss how SEO could be integrated into your localization process.

How to use SEO in a localization process ?

Simply translating your website into other languages will not guarantee it achieves good rankings in the local search results of your target markets. That’s why integrating SEO in the localization process is really important.

Translating keywords directly does not work, because keywords are the fruit of a language, and are rooted in the local culture. Their relevance will vary from country to country. You will have to do some research to identify the highest searched and most lucrative keywords that your website should contain according to your target audience, so that you rank highly in major search engines.

Some of the standard localization tools can be used to streamline the process that includes content optimization. For example, Translation Memories (TM) could help you to have a clearer view of what has been changed in the optimization process and to track keywords performances.

Titles, meta descriptions, URLs and alternative text tags should not be neglected either. The title is the first thing anyone sees when searching for something on the Web. That’s why it needs to be accurate and interesting according to the local culture of your target audience. It’s not necessarily going to be the same title as the original article. A simple translation is often not enough. Well-written and catchy meta descriptions are more likely to attract readers. Also, you have to make sure that your URLs contain keywords and be careful not to make them too long.

Furthermore, let’s not forget that colors and images go hand in hand with the editorial strategy. Graphic standards can vary enormously from one culture to another: for example, a site will not have the same look if it addresses an Asian audience or if it targets Western sites. What seems commonplace or obvious in one culture can take on a completely different meaning in another.

All in all, it is important to understand that the translation of your site alone will not be enough to be well positioned on the various search engines according to the countries you are targeting. You have to ask yourself these questions: should 100% of the content of my site be translated? Do I need to adapt certain parts of the site to fit the local culture? Then, once the content is adapted to the audience, you can use the different SEO techniques suggested above to improve your SEO ranking.

How will SEO and localization techniques evolve in the future?

In the future, more importance will be given to the mobile version of your site rather than the desktop version. It is therefore important to optimize with a focus on mobile.

On the other hand, having a responsive site will not be enough to satisfy the search engines. It will be necessary to clean up the pages of the site and make the content stand out. Banners, pop-ups and sliders will be less appreciated and should be limited.

In terms of localization, it will be necessary to research the usage habits of your target audience in order to improve their user experience. The versions of your site may be completely different visually.

We can also imagine that in a few years, voice search will have become more important. Voice searches are often longer than simple keywords, so it is possible that article titles will have to be modified to attract more people.

Companies will have to focus on so-called “long tail” phrases rather than short keywords and put even more emphasis on interrogative forms.

This study shows us that SEO and localization techniques are still evolving. As the web and new technologies change, SEO and localization professionals will have to constantly adapt to new market requirements. 

And you, what do you think about integrating SEO in your localization process? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts below and read our other articles about SEO and localization!

Machine Translation is getting more and more advanced but will it be able to replace human beings in the future? Let’s find out in the article below.

In the wake of Keywords Studios’ acquisition of machine translation provider KantanMT, Neural Machine Translation (NMT) has become a hot topic among language professionals and service providers specializing in game translation. Are we getting closer to the point where machines  will be able to translate games with little or no human intervention? I believe that day is still a long way away, but NMT is here to stay — and it is already proving useful in some applications.

Context is everything

Gone are the days when the often nonsensical output of Google Translate was an endless source of hilarity for professional linguists. NMT is a huge step up over earlier machine translation efforts, but it still has considerable limitations, including the fact that it is not context-aware — and context is everything in game localization.

In software, even more so than in general translation, words may completely change meaning depending on where they appear. An innocuous term like “save” may refer to saving the game in a system menu, to saving money in a promotional message, or to saving a character in a mission prompt. Each of these meanings would be rendered differently in most non-English languages. Dialogue is even more challenging: when they translate games, localizers need to know who is talking to whom and how the characters relate to each other in order to achieve the right tone and make the dialogue flow naturally.

Human translators can gather this contextual information from notes and loc kits provided by the development team; when this information is not available, they can make educated guesses based on their familiarity with the game and clues found in string IDs, file structure, etc. In contrast, NMT systems lack the ability to make such inferences, and more importantly, since they are unaware of the limits of their knowledge, they will not think to ask the developer before making incorrect assumptions.

Game localization poses unique challenges

Creativity is key in game localization: games are meant to be immersive experiences, and their spell is easily broken by an incorrect or unimaginative translation. Particularly in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, games often feature made-up names for characters, locations, and concepts, all of which need to be adapted to suit the genre conventions and players’ expectations. This demands a native speaker’s knowledge of the target culture and a kind of creativity that is beyond the ability of current machine translation systems. In fact, there is little scientific consensus on whether general artificial intelligence that is capable of proper creative thought will arrive in our lifetimes.

The ability to think creatively also comes into play when dealing with variables or “tokens”. These are often used by developers to create messages that change dynamically depending on the in-game situation. However, every language is structured differently, and messages using variables often need to be adjusted to ensure that the translation respects the target language grammar and syntax. This requires sound linguistic judgment and the ability to think outside the box, skills that remain solely in the purview of human translators.

Neural machine translation also struggles with terminology: generic NMT engines use generic terminology and cannot be forced to adhere to a specific glossary. You can influence an engine’s term choices by training it with carefully selected text, but you will rarely have a large enough corpus to train a franchise-specific engine. Besides, platform owners often require compliance with their own system-specific terminology; otherwise, they may refuse to clear the game for release, so this can be a major hindrance to the use of NMT.

Fitness for purpose

Is NMT entirely useless for translating games, then? Far from it. In fact, in a recent article for MultiLingual magazine, Cristina Anselmi and Inés Rubio, from Electronic Arts, identify several good use cases for neural machine translation in games.

For example, a properly trained, platform-specific NMT engine can make short work of repetitive system text, although post-editing remains necessary to ensure compliance with platform requirements. Post-edited NMT can also provide good quality documentation at a low cost. Even “raw” (unedited) machine translation is proving useful in first-line customer support for companies lacking the resources to operate a multilingual support center.

In the long run, NMT offers exciting opportunities for game design — from translating procedurally-generated content in real time to making customer-created content available to an international audience — situations in which players may be willing to trade some quality for an endless supply of fresh content.

Machine translation is a tool

At the end of the day, NMT is just one more tool in the localization arsenal, hugely powerful if used properly, but with equally important limitations. For the foreseeable future, professional human translators must remain at the center of the localization process, but there is no reason why NMT cannot be used to translate ancillary content or to boost localizers’ productivity in the less creative aspects of game translation.Intrigued about the possibilities of NMT and its applications in localization? You may want to check out other blog articles on machine translation in the TCLoc blog, or you may even want to consider signing up for the TCLoc Master’s degree, which covers this and many related topics.