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11 Tips to Save on Translation/Localization Costs





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One very common argument I hear from direct clients considering multilingual translation of their content is that the costs are too high. While the translation of a company's products in several languages represents an investment, there are lots of rather simple ways to keep the budget under control. Here are a few examples to get you on the right track:

  1. Prepare your documents for translation/localization: Very often, my clients will send unedited source files and leave strings they don't particularly need to be translated in the localized versions of their documents or apps. Produce translatable versions of your documents and remove everything that doesn't need to be translated.
  2. Choose a simple file format for translations: If your translators need to spend time preparing your text for translation, you may have to pay for that time. Make it as simple as possible for your provider. Office files are usually relatively straightforward. If you have source code or more complex file types, consider extracting the translatable bits in an Excel file or similar bilingual format.
  3. Avoid graphical text whenever possible: Localizing images can take time and generate extra costs, or you may simply forget to include them in the document to translate. If it is important for design purposes to keep graphical strings, write down the text in question in a separate file (ideally with references to provide context) and produce the localized images in-house, using the templates you already have.
  4. Use (text-free) visuals when possible: Most of the time, icons don't need to be localized from a language to another. It can be as simple as replacing "Help" with a "?" icon. You save on both linguistic and implementation costs, for example by avoiding space limitation issues.
  5. Avoid repetitions: Most language service providers will charge at least a portion of their rate for repeated text. If you know two identical strings are going to be used in the exact same context, you probably don't need to include them twice in your source files. Sometimes, entire chunks of text can be repeated, for example if you are localizing web pages with recurring headers, footers or sidebars. In this case, put these elements in a separate file and have them translated just once.
  6. Adopt a simple writing style: Verbosity will cost you extra money. If necessary, consider preparing simpler versions of your original texts. Adopt short sentence patterns. You may even want to write an entirely new, shorter piece of content for your translation needs. If you localize your content in several languages, the total savings can be very significant.
  7. Localize only the necessary content: There may be pages on your document/web page that you don't particularly need to be translated. Start with what is strictly necessary and scale up later if needed. Following up on the point above, it can be an interesting idea to have a new website altogether, focused on the pages that generate sales for your business. Blog and news pages can probably wait until you are established in those new markets.
  8. Keep track of text changes: Avoid being charged several times for the same strings. A lot of free and paid tools are available to help you track changes in documents or source code. Use them wisely. Compile a list of strings that need to be edited (with context when possible!) and have them ready in a new file.
  9. Update by batches: Sending out text update requests takes time and your provider may have a minimum fee system for small updates. What system works best will depend on the planned frequency and degree of importance of such updates. You can generally consider a batch ready when a critical update comes in or when you are absolutely sure there are not going to be any further changes.
  10. Update only if necessary: If you proofread your document/website but the core content remains the same, you probably don't need to update and pay extra money for your localized pages. Issues such as typos or grammatical mistakes most likely didn't affect the translation in the first place. It may sound like a tedious effort to check each change individually to determine whether it could affect the translation, but once again, the savings can be massive if you are working in several languages.
  11. Give your providers ample time: When ordering translation services, it is natural to want the target files "as soon as possible," and tempting to ask for the "best" deadline. However, language service providers typically charge an extra fee for urgent translations. If you can give them more time, you may be able to get more competitive rates, or at least avoid such fees. Here again, organization helps. Sorting your documents by urgency can make a big difference.

Bonus tip: Don't go for the cheapest provider. Translation mistakes can prove extremely costly. They turn customers away and damage your brand image. The lost opportunity costs can far outweigh the little extra money that professional translator was asking you for. Thinking long term, the best way to save money on translation is to hire the right provider the first time.

 

About the Author

Anthony Teixeira is a professional French translator and proofreader working from both English and Japanese. He has been working in the industry since 2009, both in-house and as a freelancer.



Published in February 2017









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