Why Website Translation Quality Is Critical During the COVID-19 Crisis

Find a great vendor to accurately localize your important online content with this helpful guide.

Jessica Rivera's avatar
Jessica Rivera

April 07, 2020


The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has revealed critical shortcomings in the way many organizations communicate with their constituents.

  • These businesses are successfully serving their core audiences with urgent, accurate information
  • However, they aren’t providing this information to their multilingual customers in the customers’ preferred languages
  • Even companies that do offer localized content are now uncertain if the messages are translated accurately
  • This is often because their translation vendors have inconsistently translated content in the past, or other technical and operational complexities

Organizations have an ethical—and often, legal—responsibility to provide accurate information to all of their constituents in times of crisis. Those who fail to translate (or regularly mistranslate) their content risk losing brand credibility among multilingual customers … and may face fines or more severe legal penalties.

But how does a company with little, if any, experience with localization find a translation vendor that meets its needs for accuracy, professionalism and expertise? Here are some key characteristics to look for in a website / digital-content translation solution.

World-Class People

Translation accuracy—particularly during sustained emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic—rests largely on the shoulders of linguists. The more seasoned and versatile they are, the better their translations often tend to be.

Rigorous Requirements

Ask vendors about their hiring processes. The best companies use the highest standards to bring on, and continually train, their personnel. For instance, one industry-leading solution’s linguist application exam is so thorough, only 5% of applicants pass it. Even fewer of those finalists are hired.

Subject Matter Expertise

And there’s more to great translations than linguistic fluency. Great vendors also provide translators who have expertise in the nuanced lingo and business practices of specific industries. Companies that offer these linguistic specialists ensure quality, accurate localizations during crises—and during normal business conditions, too.

Cultural Fluency

Linguists’ abilities should also include a thorough familiarity with the preferred phrases and cultures of specific markets or geographic regions. This, combined with their industry expertise, ensures they can craft authentic translations that improve customer education, engagement and brand credibility. These are all critical to sustain, especially during a crisis like COVID-19.

Versatile Skillsets

Ideally, linguists should have other skills that help handle the truly unique aspects of website and digital translation. This includes the ability to conduct keyword research and apply culturally-relevant SEO terms to translated content. This practice increases a localized site’s rank in local search results—a must-have when conveying critical, accurate information in an emergency.

World-Class Processes & Resources

Fluency in languages and industries provide a great bedrock for great translations, but it also takes a robust system of certifications, resources and processes to help deliver accurate information.

ISO-Certified Translation Processes

Many organizations won’t work with vendors that aren’t using ISO-certified translation processes. And with good reason. These processes meet strict rules mandated by the International Organization for Standardization, with a keen focus on providing excellent pre-production (pre-translation), production and post-production processes. This ethos is especially important for localizing sensitive content, such as COVID-related, other healthcare or technical information.

Look for vendors that use processes that are ISO 9001- and ISO 17100-certified.

Localized Glossaries and Style Guides

Two key resources for ensuring consistently excellent and accurate translations are:

  • A translation glossary
  • And a localized style guide

These resources identify important phrases (such as industry-specific terms) and provide guidance for localizing a brand’s editorial style or voice. These linguistic tools help expedite the translation process, and ensure accuracy and consistency in word choice.

Dedicated Teams

World-class vendors provide dedicated translation teams to their customers. This means the same linguists localize your website and digital content, day in and out. The practice ensures that the linguists become fluent in your brand and communication goals … and can accurately localize COVID-19 content in ways that match the voice (and the pace) of your business communications.

Rigorous Editorial Processes

Look for vendors that conduct rigorous editorial reviews as they translate and publish your website content. Ask about their process. Best practices include post-translation review by an additional linguist, and another review/approval by an editor for publication.

World-Class Technology

A final consideration is the maturity and quality of the technologies a vendor leverages to further ensure accuracy—especially at the speed and scale needed to keep pace with a crisis.

Streamlined Tech and Processes

Great vendors use robust content-detection technologies that quickly spot new untranslated content and route it to linguists for immediate translation. This technology and others, complemented with the right workflows, enable one industry-leading vendor to translate, edit, QA and publish content in about one business day.

These linguists can also translate and launch localized websites in as little as 30 days, regardless of the site’s size or complexity.

Customer Empowerment

Look for vendors that also provide software that empowers their customers to provide direct feedback to linguists—or directly revise the translations themselves, if they wish.

Powerful tools like these enable you to:

  • Review and revise translations for ultimate control and accuracy
  • Review edits performed by your own team, further guaranteeing linguistic quality
  • Review localized glossaries and style guides
  • View how text and image translations appear on-site in a “live view” interface, ensuring all translations are accurate, and make sense in relation to all other on-page content


In the midst of an ongoing crisis like COVID-19—in which communication with all constituents is key for practical, ethical and legal reasons—organizations shouldn’t leave their mission-critical content in the hands of underqualified linguists, or vendors that don’t use best-in-class technologies and processes.

Make sure you’re asking prospective vendors tough questions about the expertise and versatility of their linguists, and the processes, resources and technologies they use every day to ensure world-class translation quality and accuracy.

Last updated on April 07, 2020
Jessica Rivera's avatar

About Jessica Rivera

Jessica Rivera brings an expert understanding of global business, executive leadership, and holistic team and culture building to her role as MotionPoint’s EVP, Global Sales and Corporate Affairs. She has over 15 years of experience collaborating with C-suites at leading SaaS and fintech companies.

Jessica Rivera's avatar
Jessica Rivera

EVP, People & Performance / Chief Legal Officer


Keep Learning

Here is some related information that you might enjoy

International Ecommerce: A Guide to Digital Global Expansion

International Ecommerce: A Guide to Digital Global Expansion

6 Challenges Of Translation & Localization To Prepare For

6 Challenges Of Translation & Localization To Prepare For

Fluency That Transcends Translation

Fluency That Transcends Translation

Use Spanish-Language Experiences to Attract Employees

Use Spanish-Language Experiences to Attract Employees