No matter what type of translation project you have, finding a reputable and reliable translation company is pivotal – your business may depend on it. You may even want to learn more about the vocabulary used when searching for the right translation services. While the type of translation you need is a crucial consideration, here are three other key factors to keep in mind when you seek out a translation agency.
Translations Services: What Kinds of Translations Are Offered?
The translation company you select will largely depend on whether it offers the type of translation you need. A translation agency should boast a range of services that go beyond basic document translation; the best companies provide language translation of web content, multimedia and standard documents. Any translation service you consider should be well versed in the industry your translation falls under. For example, if you need a translation of technical documents, such as manuals or product specifications, the service should have experience translating these types of documents. Likewise, a service should have extensive experience in legal translation if you need legal or certified translation.
Most business translation services offer certified translation of official documents, such as birth certificates and adoption papers. This type of translation is accompanied by an official certification from the translator or translation company certifying that the translation is an accurate and precise translation of the original source document.
The best translation agencies also provide services such as desktop publishing, software localization and language-specific search engine optimization (SEO). Desktop publishing refers to turnkey translation services for printed materials. In addition to actual text translation, the service handles all design elements, such as typesetting and formatting. With desktop publishing, the source files are sent to you complete and print-ready.
Software localization refers to adapting a software application into a different language for a different culture, and language-specific SEO means that the service can help optimize webpages for your target international markets. Additionally, many services provide localization testing and cultural consulting to ensure that your translation makes sense both linguistically and contextually in your target country.
Accreditation: What Helps Determine Quality?
There is no primary governing body over the translation industry, but there are specific industry certifications and affiliations that are relevant to these services. Certifications that are indicative of top-notch translation services include the ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038 certifications. The ISO certification specifies requirements for quality management systems within an organization. The EN 15038 certification is also a quality standard, but it is specific to translation service providers and set forth by the European Committee for Standardization.
It is equally important to evaluate a translation service's internal quality assurance procedures and translator qualifications. The service should employ translators accredited by the American Translators Association or another professional association. The translators should be native speakers of their target language to ensure both technical and cultural competency. To ensure accurate translations, the service should have multi-level quality assurance procedures and be transparent about what its processes entail.
Many renowned translation services are also compliant with the open standards set by the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA). While LISA has officially ceased operations, the organization has released its portfolio of copyrighted standards for open use. These standards help promote consistency, interoperability and quality management within the translation industry.
Support Resources: What Kind of Help Should You Look For?
All translation services provide contact information, but what support resources do they offer that are truly beneficial? If you're looking for a long-term relationship with a translation company, it should assign you a project manager to ensure the service meets your company's specific needs.
Another capability you should look for in a translation service is translation memory technology. Translation memory refers to a linguistic database that captures and saves repetitive phrases for future use. It enables translators to work faster and can lower the cost of your translation projects by eliminating the need to translate repetitive phrases. It is important to note that this technology does not replace human translators; it simply augments translators' skills to provide faster and more accurate translations.
Look for services that also provide an online customer portal where you can track the progress of your translation project and contact your project manager. Other resources you should consider include the speed at which the translation service returns your quotes, customer references that are posted or available on request, and informational articles or blog posts to help you become more familiar with the company's translation services.
The Services on Our Lineup: How We Tested, What We Found
Unlike machine- or computer-generated translations, human-powered translation services understand the subtle cultural nuances of local languages that can alter the meaning of your translation. To assess the companies on our lineup, we ran multiple tests to determine the accuracy of translations. For example, in one test, we took a 250-word page in English and asked for a translation into French. In another test, we asked for a 275-word page written in Spanish and asked for a translation into English.
We also asked for quotes for these translations. Quoted prices varied widely, with an average of around $50 for a 250-word English to French translation. Gengo, EDGE Professional and InWhatLanguage offered the most reasonably priced quotes at less than $40, while Dynamic Language was the most expensive, at over twice the average price.
However, the results of our tests concluded that price did not predict translation accuracy. Straker Translations, while priced lower than our average cost, scored highest overall in accuracy. Gengo also did well in accuracy, speed and overall value, and One Planet was right behind them. We also combined translation price and service to form a Translation Value score. We scored for how many sets of eyes checked or edited our translation and how many services, like desktop publishing for instance, were included in the quoted price.