If you have a software product that is used in more than one country, you know how important localization is. Incorrect translation, misinterpretation of cultural finer points, wrong design – all these are examples of low localization quality that leads to poor user experience.
High-quality localization implies not only seamless translation but attention to the tiniest details such as to design and use of the right metrics (for example, kg vs pounds or cm vs inches). At Alconost, we place the primary focus on localization quality, so we decided to share our best practices for ensuring the highest quality of translation and localization projects.
High quality translation basics as defined by Alconost
Throughout our work, we came up with a certain checklist that helps us ensure the high quality of our work. This checklist can set a good start for quality assurance of your localization project and contains the most important things to pay attention to.
Select the best professional translators
Let’s start with the basics: to ensure the success and quality of your future project, you need to assemble a professional team to carry out the tasks. And here is the first trap that many clients fall into: they hire native speakers but do not pay attention to their professional experience. As a result, the project fails or has severe mistakes because native speakers do not equal good translators by default.
When it comes to choosing professionals to work with, Alconost has several criteria for them:
- To be a native speaker of the needed language.
- Have at least two years of experience in professional localization.
- Specialize within a certain domain (games, mobile apps, web software) and should have a corresponding portfolio of translated projects.
These are the minimum criteria that we request from our translators and we highly recommend hiring experienced linguists instead of native speakers with zero experience. One more thing about hiring translators: if possible, try to assign translators with specific experience to specific projects. For example, if a translator is a pro within a certain domain (IT, fintech, gaming), it makes sense to assign them to projects with corresponding themes.
Always provide translators with context
Context is an absolute must when it comes to high-quality translation. Without context, even the best translator will not be able to provide proper translation simply because one word may have several meanings (and don’t even get us started on idiomatic expressions!).
Therefore, it is essential to always provide context either in text and/or image format. In Crowdin you can add screenshots and images to strings, thus providing the needed context for every piece of information to be translated.
A glossary can be referred to as a unique vocabulary of specialized terms that are used in a software product (i.e. in a game). As well, a glossary might include:
- industry-specific terms
- words that are commonly used in the product
- words that are not to be translated
We recommend having a glossary, as it provides consistency and you can always refer to it in case there is an issue with translating a certain term. As well, a good glossary significantly speeds up the translation process and helps to adhere to the brand’s voice.
In case you do not have a ready glossary, your translation vendor can help you create one. And if there are no approved glossary terms yet, it can be easily done in Crowdin.
Another great asset for successful localization is a style guide. A style guide typically reflects the desired tone of voice and the brand image. It is important to discuss the style guide with the client before starting to work on localization as it will serve as a base for future selection of terms and expressions.
Use specialized localization tools
A localization platform is your go-to tool if you plan to localize your product. Especially, if your content is regularly updated or added creating a continuous localization workflow with the help of a platform is a great solution. The key features you’ll be using, typically include:
- opportunities for collaboration
- support of various document formats
- real-time translation and preview
- translation memory and glossary
- support for various integrations
Of course, this is a very generic list of the capabilities of a good localization platform. At Alconost, we prefer to work with Crowdin as it fully satisfies our requirements in terms of functionality and ease of work. As for the need to work with a localization platform, we think it’s a must simply because it speeds up the work and ensures nothing is missed.
Crowdin for localization: what makes it so good?
While there are different LPs out there, Crowdin remains our favorite. And it’s not only our pick but our clients love it too!
As Egor Fedorov, the COO at inDriver said, “Task monitoring has become transparent: each person in the company can track the localization process using the unified platform Crowdin. This enabled inDriver to freed up a tremendous number of resources for the future development of the app and the company”.
As for the app itself, work on the inDriver became quite a challenge for Alconost. The app was targeting Latin America and then extended its services to cover Central and South Africa. Needless to say, these countries have a great number of dialects so our translation team had to make sure everything was translated into the proper dialect by native speakers. Crowdin helped a lot by automating a number of tasks and providing a clear and easy to use translation space for everyone involved.
In addition to the rich functionality, Crowdin also has a very clear and intuitive interface. Let’s now have a look at its most distinct features and the way they facilitate translators’ work.
Crowdin places a great emphasis on providing context and makes it as easy as possible. For instance, there is an option of requesting context if it’s lacking: translators can do so simply by clicking a Request context button.
Here are a few ways to add context to the project in Crowdin:
- Text comments to the source file.
- Screenshots or text comments to the corresponding string.
- By uploading screenshots to the project and letting Crowdin “match” the screenshots with strings by using the automatic text recognition function.
- In-context translation preview and translation.
Crowdin provides automated QA checks that serve as a primary method of quality assurance before the system begins an advanced check.
These checks ensure there are no glossary mismatches and spelling mistakes and that placeholders are present and correct. And if there is a critical error being present, the system will not allow translators to save the translation until they correct it.
Real-time preview for mobile apps
In order for the translators to better understand where and how their translation will look in the app, Crowdin has a real-time preview feature. When a translator types in the translation of a string in the Editor, they will immediately see the corresponding string changing in the app emulator or on the translator’s device. In this way, it’s easier to correct the translation if it doesn’t fit, for example, as well as double-check whether it fits the context. Note that this feature is part of the Crowdin Mobile SDK and is suitable for certain file formats only (such as xls/doc/html).
Comments as issue trackers
It can be easy to miss a single comment in a large localization project – this is why Crowdin introduced the “comments as issue trackers” feature. It’s simple: you can add a comment to any string and mark this comment as an issue. In this way, everyone will see it and not a single comment will go unnoticed as it’s the loc manager’s responsibility to keep track of all issues.
Setting string character limits
In order for the design to remain appealing and user-friendly, it is important to limit the number of characters that can be used in a string. In this way, the translated text does not go beyond the designated space and fits within the established design standards. In Crowdin, you can set the string character limits to ensure your translation does not go beyond them and remains UX-friendly. As well, Crowdin displays source chars and translated chars so translators can always see the number of symbols for needed strings.
Best practices for working with translators
It’s important to make sure that the translation team working in your localization tool has all the needed features and support to do their best work. Because Alconost translators work remotely, it is essential to have a well-organized process of evaluating their performance. In addition, we have an educational system for translators that helps them improve their skills constantly. Having vast experience of working with translators from different countries, we’ve assembled a list of best practices that helps us retain the consistency of translators’ work.
Spot checks are regular performance checks that we do every month. For this check, we randomly select a piece of text that a translator worked on and thoroughly check it for any mistakes and inconsistencies. With this approach, any mistake is instantly spotted and it serves as an additional motivation for translators to keep up the level of quality. And in case anything goes wrong in terms of the quality of the selected text, we have an established process of how to address an issue and make sure it won’t happen again.
Evaluation by localization managers (loc managers)
In addition to spot checks, translators also go through monthly evaluations by loc managers. Managers use three evaluation criteria:
- adherence to deadlines
Translators then receive a score based on these criteria. Points can be taken off for such issues as a missed deadline or quality problems. We rather see them as manageable risks and always investigate the root of the problem. It may happen that a translator is not comfortable working in a certain domain (for example, fintech or gaming) and we assign this person to projects of a different kind. Also, we’ve developed a system of continuous education for translators (more on this below). If despite educating the translator, the problem repeats several times, it means we stop working with this translator.
Performance charts are one of the reporting methods that we use at Alconost. As the name implies, these charts display the performance of all our translators and managers can view performance during certain time periods (current month, last month, last 3 months). The use of such charts is an easy way to see the overall performance dynamics and identify any issues.
Education for translators
Continuous education is a must if you want to have a strong and reliable team of professionals. With this in mind, Alconost developed an educational process for our translators that is aimed at recognizing their achievements, providing them with educational templates, and helping them improve their flaws. The core of our educational program lies in constant communication between managers and translators.
As well, we encourage our managers to always acknowledge the good work of translators and to provide feedback, either positive or negative. We believe that translators are an integral part of our company and we are highly interested in motivated and enthusiastic specialists who share our vision. This is why constant communication is so important: it helps us timely identify any issues and successfully resolve them.
Translation quality is critical when it comes to localization as poor translation may lead to huge problems on the user side. There are numerous cases of negative reactions from users when the translation went wrong and in these cases, companies can lose not only customer loyalty but a significant share of revenue too.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of a localization agency to organize quality assurance processes and closely monitor the work of translators. And in addition to the above mentioned methods (use of localization tools, creation and use of glossary, provision of context, and more) it is also important to treat your translators not as freelancers but as part of the team. By investing time and effort into establishing reliable and long-lasting relationships with them, you can rest assured that their work will be highly rewarding both for you and for the client.