|4 Min. Read
|April 07, 2020
The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has revealed critical shortcomings in the way many organizations communicate with their constituents.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two key resources for ensuring consistently excellent and accurate translations are:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.